OpenNotes' benefits extend to care partners

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The ability to view doctors’ notes electronically benefits not only the patients, but their care partners as well, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Geisinger Health System surveyed adults before and after 12 months of exposure to OpenNotes, a service to allow patients to see all clinician notes from their care visits. That transparency was found to improve the doctor-patient relationship in previous research.

Geisinger’s portal, MyGeisinger, allows patients to designate care partners who also can view medical records. The health system polled 323 patients and 389 care partners in a baseline survey and 184 patients and 252 care partners again at 12 months.

Patients and care partners said they were more likely to agree about the patient’s treatment plan, had more productive discussions about the patient’s care and were better able to formulate questions for the doctor by using OpenNotes.

They cited benefits including better understanding of patient health conditions, better ability to remember the patient’s care plan and feeling more in control of care. About 1 in 10 patients and care partners reported concerns about privacy.

The most-cited reason for not viewing the notes was forgetting or not knowing about them. Previous research found reminders essential to keeping patients involved.

At 12 months, 94.3 percent of patients wanted continued access to OpenNotes for themselves and their care partners, and 98.1 percent of care partners did, the study found.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the Open Notes announcement