Opening the curtain on our patient notes

Daniel RosenbergDaniel Rosenberg, M.D.
Physician champion, OpenNotes
Providence Medical Group-Gateway

July 16, 2014

Providence soon will participate in the national OpenNotes initiative, which allows patients electronic access to their clinician progress notes.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients who opened at least one note are more likely to take their medications as prescribed. They're also more in control of their health when they can read what their clinicians wrote about them.

Traditionally, progress notes were thought to be the private domain of doctors, too confusing or potentially embarrassing for patients to read themselves. But the results of this study and others have shown that patients are rarely upset by the physician's comments, nor do they need additional resources to explain the notes.

Pilot studies took place at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Seattle's Harborview Medical Center and Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. Nearly all participating patients wanted notes to remain open after the pilot and no doctor asked for the notes to be turned off.

Most of the large health systems in the Portland area are going live with OpenNotes in a statewide collaborative in the coming year. Providence Medical Group's pilot is anticipated to start in 2015 among interested providers. You can email me if you’d like to volunteer. To learn more about how this affects clinicians, read the FAQs from OpenNotes.