OpenNotes helps to improve misunderstandings between docs, patients

One of the biggest benefits of the OpenNotes initiative has been clarification of misunderstandings between patients and clinicians, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

A new post describes some of the findings of a study published last month by the organization for which chronic patients at OpenNotes facilities were interviewed, face-to-face, to determine the impact on care quality of the effort. While "several thousand patients" in and around Boston were interviewed, the study's authors focused on 500 patients who viewed at least seven notes within a year's time, defined as "heavy users."

Some patients determined that their doctors misunderstood something they had said, while others indicated that simply being able to read their notes gave them a sense of increased control over their health.

"It's hard to be a [chronic] patient, and we as doctors are not always as clear as we might be," Diane Brockmeyer, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told the Commonwealth Fund. "Instead of telling people two to three things during a visit, we commonly tell them five or 10 or even 15 things they're supposed to change."

Brockmeyer added that OpenNotes has not led to a dramatic increase in workload, but has caused her to alter some of her note-writing habits to clear up potential confusion for patients.

In a recent interview with FierceHealthIT, Homer Chin, a physician champion for the Northwest OpenNotes Consortium, said that OpenNotes is looking more into how to ensure patients using multiple EHRs in multiple systems can easily access their information. He also talked about how the Vancouver Clinic in Washington state allows adolescents to view their notes.

OpenNotes research published in February in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found electronic reminders essential to keeping patients engaged in reading their physicians' notes.

In December, four nonprofit organizations recently pledged $10 million to expand the program to 50 million patients.

To learn more:
- read the Commonwealth Fund post