Shared access is an underused strategy that may bridge patients’ health literacy deficits and lack of technology experience and that helps but does not fully resolve concerns regarding patient and care partner identity credentials.
As millions of patients nationwide increasingly gain access to clinicians’ notes, explicit email invitations to review notes may be important for fostering patient engagement and patient-doctor communication.
Health information technology has been embraced as a strategy to facilitate patients’ access to their health information and engagement in care. However, not all patients are able to access, or are capable of using, a computer or mobile device. Although family caregivers assist individuals with some of the most challenging and costly health needs, their role in health information technology is largely undefined and poorly understood. This perspective discusses challenges and opportunities of engaging family caregivers through the use of consumer-oriented health information technology. We compile existing evidence to make the case that involving family caregivers in health information technology as desired by patients is technically feasible and consistent with the principles of patient-centered and family-centered care. We discuss how more explicit and purposeful engagement of family caregivers in health information technology could advance clinical quality and patient safety by increasing the transparency, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of patient health information across settings of care. Finally, we describe how clarifying and executing patients’ desires to involve family members or friends through health information technology would provide family caregivers greater legitimacy, convenience, and timeliness in health system interactions, and facilitate stronger partnerships between patients, family caregivers, and health care professionals.
Patient access to online electronic medical records (EMRs) is increasing and may offer benefits to patients. However, the inherent complexity of medicine may cause confusion. We elucidate characteristics and health behaviors of patients who report confusion after reading their doctors’ notes online. We analyzed data from 4,528 patients in Boston, MA, central Pennsylvania, and Seattle, WA, who were granted online access to their primary care doctors’ clinic notes and who viewed at least one note during the 1-year intervention. Three percent of patients reported confusion after reading their visit notes.
Availability of notes following PCP visits was associated with improved adherence by patients prescribed antihypertensive, but not antihyperlipidemic, medications. As the use of fully transparent records spreads, patients invited to read their clinicians’ notes may modify their behaviors in clinically valuable ways.
Objective To explore the experience of early patient adopters who accessed their clinical notes online using the Blue Button feature of the My HealtheVet portal.
Methods A web-based survey of VA patient portal users from June 22 to September 15, 2013.
Results 33.5% of respondents knew that clinical notes could be viewed, and nearly one in four (23.5%) said that they had viewed their notes at least once. The majority of VA Notes users agreed that accessing their notes will help them to do a better job of taking medications as prescribed (80.1%) and be better prepared for clinic visits (88.6%). Nine out of 10 users agreed that use of visit notes will help them understand their conditions better (91.8%), and better remember the plan for their care (91.9%). In contrast, 87% disagreed that VA Notes will make them worry more, and 88.4% disagreed that access to VA Notes will be more confusing than helpful. Users who had either contacted their provider or healthcare team (11.9%) or planned to (13.5%) primarily wanted to learn more about a health issue, medication, or test results (53.7%).
Conclusions Initial assessment of the patient experience within the first 9 months of availability provides evidence that patients both value and benefit from online access to clinical notes. These findings are congruent with OpenNotes study findings on a broader scale. Additional outreach and education is needed to enhance patient awareness. Healthcare professionals should author notes keeping in mind the opportunity patient access presents for enhanced communication.
The move to offer patients online access to their clinicians’ notes is accelerating and holds promise of supporting more truly collaborative relationships between patients and clinicians, say Jan Walker, Michael Meltsner, and Tom Delbanco
For decades clinicians have experimented with making medical records available to patients.1 2 3 4 5 6 Now electronic medical records and associated secure internet portals provide patients the opportunity to view test results, medications, and other selected parts of the medical record on line.7 But few patients are offered full access to their records; clinicians’ notes are rarely visible. After a demonstration project showed the acceptability of OpenNotes (www.myopennotes.org) in the US,8 several prominent healthcare providers decided to make clinicians’ notes available to patients online before further formal evaluation. We describe the OpenNotes movement in the US and how sharing notes with patients is spreading. We also underline the case for research to assess the long term effect of sharing notes and the potential to foster improved and truly collaborative care.
Historically, radiologists’ official written reports have functionally been proprietary communications between radiologists and referring providers. Although never secret, these reports have traditionally been archived in the medical record, with tightly controlled access. Patients rarely viewed reports directly. As patient-centered care, transparent communication, and electronic archiving have converged, however, radiologists’ reports, like many other medical record components, are increasingly accessible to patients via web-based “portals.” Many radiologists harbor justified anxiety about whether and how radiology reports should change in response to these portals.
Should we health professionals encourage patients with mental illness to read their medical record notes? As electronic medical records and secure online portals proliferate, patients are gaining ready access not only to laboratory findings but also to clinicians’ notes. Primary care patients report that reading their doctors’ notes brings many benefits including greater control over their health care, and their doctors experience surprisingly few changes in workflow. While patients worry about electronic records and potential loss of privacy, they vote resoundingly for making their records more available to them and often to their families.
Patients who were given access to their physicians’ notes reported having better recall and understanding of their care plans, feeling more in control of their health care, and adhering better to medication regimens. Doctors reported little effect on their work lives.