Online Access to Doctors’ Notes Improves Patient Adherence to Care Plans, Patient/Doctor Relationship

A study just published in a major medical journal showed that when patients were offered the opportunity to view doctors’ notes online, 90 percent did so, and most reported that as a result they were more likely to take medication as prescribed. For one year, primary care physicians in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington provided patients with online access to doctors’ notes, with the objective of determining the effects on both doctor and patient activity.

The results of the program, called OpenNotes, were published October 2 in the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. The study included 105 doctors and 13,564 of their patients. The results were encouraging: more than 11,700 of the patients checked the notes at least once. The authors wrote that the program encouraged adherence to care plans, and patients reported “an increased sense of control, greater understanding of their medical issues, improved recall of their plans for care, and better preparation for future visits.”

Some participating doctors were anxious about the project, expecting increased work and offended or confused patients. However, at its conclusion, 74 percent of doctors responded that there were no difficulties associated with allowing patient access to notes and that they experienced no changes in their practice. Some doctors reported that they spent more time writing, editing, or explaining notes to patients, though this observation was often framed as one respondent did: “better documentation – a good thing.” Doctors also frequently commented that sharing their notes strengthened their relationships with patients.

Because 99 percent of the patients who viewed the notes wanted the practice to continue, and doctors did not report more than a modest effect on their work lives, the authors concluded that open access to notes is worthy of adoption.

Read the study here:

Read another article on OpenNotes here:

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