Concerns linger amid OpenNotes success

While recent research shows the OpenNotes initiative has helped improve patient-doctor relationships and clarify misunderstandings, some concerns remain, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) outlines.

For instance, Hastings Center Research Scholar Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., in the article, points out that many patients struggle to speak English. What's more, not all patients have equal access to the technology needed to participate. And simply providing Internet access is not enough to equalize access to online health information for some, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

In addition, the JAMA article notes, some doctors not used to or comfortable with having to share their notes with patients are becoming "less candid" with their in-record remarks, which often serve as internal prompts for recalling important details. Internist Steven Malkin told the author that if he knew patients were going to read his notes, he would alter his habits.

"My notes are for me," said Malkin, who also expressed concern about patients reading notes before any diagnoses are made.

Previous research has found that OpenNotes participants better understood their treatment plans, felt more in control of their care and were more likely to take their medications.

In December, four nonprofit organizations pledged $10 million to expand the program to 50 million patients. In addition, in January 2015, the initiative announced it would use a $450,000 grant from the Commonwealth Fund for the OurNotes project, enabling patients to contribute to their own medical data.

To learn more:
- read the JAMA article