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Patient’s View of OpenNotes

8 October, 2012 (10:27) | EPR, Information needs, Initiatives, Patient-Centered Care, workload | By: Helga Perry

There’s an interesting opinion piece in Annals of Internal Medicine by Michael Meltsner, about his experience as a patient of the OpenNotes project. OpenNotes is an American initiative inviting patients to read the notes written about them by their healthcare professionals during consultations, and it works with any electronic or paper-based systems.

Regarding the actual note-writing, Meltser comments:

Doctors are concerned that writing notes patients can read may take up valuable time and stimulate questions that in turn will take time to answer. Such concerns are serious, but data from the OpenNotes project strongly suggest that they are overblown. Doctors already have to take notes and answer questions. The key here is not more or less time, but best practices. Is it not better in most cases to have an informed patient, one who can correct errors, clarify confusion, understand the effects of medications, and be able to discuss specific treatments with family and friends? If a greater flow of information is a valuable adjunct to improved care, including patient adherence to instructions, then using terms laymen can grasp is worth the effort. Obviously, it’s an effort that must engage medical educators who will have to help free future doctors from jargon and technobabble.

And on the subject of  accessibility:

For notes and records to be truly open, ways must be found to include patients who are not computer-based.

Well worth getting hold of the full article.


Meltsner M. A patient’s view of OpenNotes. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Oct 2;157(7):523-4. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-157-7-201210020-00012. [PubMed link]

Suggested further reading:

Leveille SG, Walker J, Ralston JD, Ross SE, Elmore JG, Delbanco T.  Evaluating the impact of patients’ online access to doctors’ visit notes: designing and executing the OpenNotes project. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2012 Apr 13;12:32. [free full text]




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