Study: Patients Like Reading Their Doctors’ Notes

Captured by the Chicago Tribune

Both doctors and patients gave high marks to a program allowing patients to access their primary care physicians’ office notes online, in a new study.

Researchers at three U.S. practices found doctors’ initial concerns about the extra time it would take to write out notes and answer patients’ related questions didn’t pan out.

And almost everyone who got access to their notes for the study wanted to keep seeing them, even if some patients were concerned about privacy issues.

“We were thrilled by what we learned,” said Dr. Tom Delbanco, who worked on the study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“We had no clue that so many patients would read their notes, and that they would be both as enthusiastic and report so many clinically important changes in their behavior.”

Delbanco led the study with Jan Walker, a nurse at Beth Israel.

They and other researchers implemented the program at Beth Israel, Geisinger Health System in Northeast/Central Pennsylvania and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The current study involved 105 primary care doctors and more than 13,000 of their patients who participated in the trial of the system, called OpenNotes.

Over the course of a year or more, 87 percent of those patients opened at least one note and four in ten responded to a survey about their general experience.

Most patients said having access to their doctors’ notes gave them more control over their care and helped them take any prescribed medications more reliably. That was all based on surveys; the researchers didn’t track how often patients actually filled their prescriptions, for example.

Between one-quarter and one-third of patients still had privacy concerns about having the notes online, but 99 percent wanted to keep their access after the study ended. Read more…

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