Access to doc's notes can improve patient medication adherence

Providing patients with access to their doctor's electronic notes can improve medication adherence, according to a new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers, from Geisinger Health System and elsewhere, conducted a retrospective comparative analysis at one site of Geisinger's OpenNotes quasi-experimental trial, involving 2,147 patients on either antihypertension or antihyperlipidemic medications. All of the patients had access to their records via a portal; however, the interventional patients also had access to their primary care physicians' notes and were invited twice to view them.  

The researchers found that patients on antihypertensive medications and invited to review their doctor's notes were more likely to adhere to their medications, 79.7 percent vs. 75.3 percent for the control patients. However, there wasn't a significant difference in adherence from those on antihyperlipidemic agents, with 77.6 percent adherence for those with access versus 77.3 percent for the control group.

The study authors suggested that the difference between the two drugs was possibly because the guidelines for hypertensive medications are more universally accepted by physicians; to that end, the physician notes may have been more convincing to patients.

Even so, the results of the study, which the authors call the first large scale report on the subject, were promising.

Other studies have found that patient access to their records can improve the accuracy of the records, as well as the care provided. However, there is still confusion regarding their entitlement to their electronic records. The Office for Civil Rights is planning on issuing guidance on this issue to hopefully clarify the matter.

To learn more:
- read the study

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