BIDMC expands e-access to mental health notes

Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a pioneer in providing patients with access to their electronic health record data, has decided to take its policy on transparency a step further by allowing patients to access mental health notes, according to a recent Boston Globe article.

As of March 1, 40 providers are sharing their mental health notes with more than 650 patients. Patients can correct mistakes, and the providers are using more objective language in their notes. Patient interest in reading the notes varies.  BIDMC expects to expand the program to more patients receiving mental health services in the future.

BIDMC, along with Geisinger Health System and Harborview Medical Center in Washington were initial participants in the OpenNotes initiative, in which patients were alerted by email each time their physician posted a note about them into their EHR; the patient then could access the note through an online portal.  

Fully 99 percent of patients in the experiment recommended that this transparency continue, reporting an increased sense of control, greater understanding of their medical issue and improved recall of their plans of care. The physicians found that the note sharing strengthened their relationships with some patients and may have improved patient safety and satisfaction. The concept has since been expanded to other hospitals.

Currently only the Veterans' Administration allows patients to view their mental health notes. However, Geisinger plans to follow in BIDMC's footsteps in the near future, according to the article. It has been predicted that patient access to their e-records may become the standard of care.

To learn more:
- read the article