Geisinger to expand patient access to docs' notes

Geisinger Health System, buoyed by the success of its experiment to provide patients with access to their physicians' electronic notes, has decided to expand the program to more than 500 of its physicians and 100,000 patients, it recently announced.

The one-year experimental program, called OpenNotes, involved 105 primary care physicians and 13,564 patients at Geisinger, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Harborview Medical Center in Washington. Twenty-four physicians and 8,700 patients were from Geisinger. The program alerted patients by e-mail every time their physician posted a note about them into their electronic health record. The patient then could access the note through a patient portal.

Ninety-nine percent of patients in the experiment recommended that the transparency continue, citing an increased sense of control, a greater understanding of medical issues and improved recall of their care plans. Physicians found that the note sharing strengthened their relationships with some patients, and may have improved patient safety and satisfaction.

The expansion will include not only all primary care physicians and those in general pediatrics, but also selected physicians in other specialties, such as cardiology and dermatology.

"One of the great challenges in medicine is getting patients involved in their own care," Jonathan Darer, M.D., Chief Innovation Officer for the Division of Clinical Innovation at Geisinger and the lead investigator on the project, said in a statement. "It's clear that providing patients access to their doctors' notes can be a powerful tool in accomplishing that goal."

Other studies have shown that patients appreciate access to the data in their EHRs. Such access has been shown to boost loyalty and improve patient safety. 

To learn more:
- here's the announcement