Most patients want to see notes, some MDs want to share

By Brian Dolan
01:46 pm
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Female Doctor with TabletPatients overwhelmingly want access to the notes their physicians take during visits, according to one study that was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. About 95 percent of patients who participated in the twelve-month study (and the survey that followed it) said that giving patients access to the notes was a good idea, while between 69 percent to 81 percent of those participating primary care physicians agreed.

The survey results were from a survey conducted before the start of OpenNotes, a year-long study that began in the summer of 2010 with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio, Drane Family Fund, and Koplow Charitable Foundation. OpenNotes included participation from more than 90,000 patients and 114 primary care providers (PCPs) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Only about 110 of the participating PCPs answered the survey questions, while about 42 percent of the participating patients did.

Between 74 percent and 92 percent of participating PCPs expected the OpenNotes initiative to improve communication and patient education. Only about half of those non-participating PCPs felt the same way. More than one half of participating PCPs and a vast majority of nonparticipating PCPs expected that sharing visit notes would lead to greater worry among patients. Only about 14 percent patients felt that way. Less than half of participating PCPs figured the sharing of notes would lead to more questions between visits, while more than 80 percent of the non-participating PCPs expected that. Less than a third of the PCPs thought the practice would increase risk for lawsuits.

Last year, researchers said their main question was: Will doctors and patients want to continue the trial after the 12-month period is over? While the official results from the OpenNotes study have yet to be published (the metrics above are just from the original expectations survey), one of the lead researchers told The Atlantic that the team is encouraged because all of doctors who participated in the study have decided to continue using it.

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