The blog of Burness Communications

The Year of OpenNotes

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Have you ever wondered what your doctor is writing down about you during your visit? What do you think would happen if doctors shared visit notes with their patients? These questions (and more) were answered on Monday, October 1, when results from the year-long OpenNotes study were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study revealed findings from what its researchers are calling a “simple intervention” in which 105 doctors shared their notes with more than 13,000 patients at three health centers across the country- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston; Geisinger Health System  in Danville, PA; and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The study uncovered overwhelming support for the model and found that when patients have access to their doctors’ notes, they feel more in control of their health, better understand their care plan and say they are more likely to follow their prescribed medications. Similarly, doctors reported that note-sharing strengthened their relationships with patients.  In fact, since the OpenNotes trial ended, no doctor has opted out of sharing visit notes, and 99% of patients want OpenNotes to continue.

“The [OpenNotes] findings do more than shed light on what patients want. They make our current ideas about transparency in the patient-doctor relationship a quaint artifact of the past.” -Pauline Chen, MD New York Times 10-4-2012The research has sparked a storm of consumer and media  interest, including articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and CNN Health. On the heels of releasing final study results, the OpenNotes team also convened healthcare leaders and advocates in Washington, D.C. on October 11th for a day-long event to discuss findings and plans to move OpenNotes forward as a universal model of care. Farzad Mostashari, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Office of the National Coordinator, was among the guests who spoke of the need for transparency and engagement in healthcare today.

No matter how uneasy or uncomfortable the idea of OpenNotes may be for some, it is clear that transparency in healthcare is here to stay, patients like it and we need more of it. OpenNotes is spearheading an idea that works and is making patients across the country ask for a model like it.

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