OpenNotes

Enabling patients to see their doctors' visit notes is a simple idea that has the potential to transform the way patients engage with their health care. OpenNotes helps us move toward an era when patients have the information they need to become true partners in discussions and decisions about their care.

Supported by RWJF, researchers undertook a year-long trial of OpenNotes in which 105 doctors shared their notes with more than 19,000 patients in Boston, rural Pennsylvania, and Seattle. They found that when patients have access to their doctors’ notes, they feel more in control of their health care, better understand their medical issues, and report they are more likely to take their medications as prescribed. Virtually all participants supported the idea of seeing their medical notes, and no doctors elected to stop sharing visit notes with their patients once the study ended.

With this evidence in hand, OpenNotes is working to make sharing visit notes with patients a routine part of care. Both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Geisinger Health System have expanded OpenNotes, with more doctors and other clinicians sharing notes with patients. Milwaukee’s Columbia St. Mary’s health system and The Department of Veterans Affairs have adopted OpenNotes. Expansion plans are under way at other health systems across the country.

Contact

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Boston, MA

Tom Delbanco, MD
Project Director

Janice D. Walker, RN, MBA
Project Director

Series//Patients Support, Use and Benefit from Open Visit Notes

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  1. OpenNotes set out to answer a simple, but revolutionary, question: What happens when we give patients access to the notes their doctors write about them? The answer: Patients become more active partners in their health care.

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OpenNotes set out to answer a simple, but revolutionary, question: What happens when we give patients access to the notes their doctors write about them? The answer: Patients become more active partners in their health care.

OpenNotes set out to answer a simple, but revolutionary, question: What happens when we give patients access to the notes their doctors write about them? The answer: Patients become more active partners in their health care.

OpenNotes set out to answer a simple, but revolutionary, question: What happens when we give patients access to the notes their doctors write about them? The answer: Patients become more active partners in their health care.

OpenNotes on Pioneering Ideas

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The Doctor Will Share With You Now

April 17, 2014

Seinfeld character Elaine Benes saw her doctor visit notes by accident, and the outcome was less than satisfactory. Under RWJF national initiative OpenNotes, Elaine wouldn't have needed to sneak a peek. And the outcome would have been better.

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A Toolkit for Implementing OpenNotes

March 10, 2014

We know that patients with easy access to their doctors’ notes feel more in control of their care and better understand their medical issues. A new OpenNotes toolkit guides providers and health systems in adopting this transformative practice.

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Recent Journal Articles

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Electronic Health Records Empower HIV/AIDS Patients

April 11, 2014

See how electronic medical records can play an important role in helping patients manage their care.

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99

Percentage of @myopennotes patients who want access to doctor notes to continue past study

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Zero

Number of doctors who stopped sharing visit notes with patients when @myopennotes pilot ended

FINAL REPORT

Evidence that OpenNotes Works

OpenNotes was tested in three health centers around the country: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Boston; Geisinger Health System, a rural set of clinics in Danville, Pa.; and Harborview Medical Center, a safety net hospital in Seattle. 

OpenNotes was tested in three health centers around the country: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Boston; Geisinger Health System, a rural set of clinics in Danville, Pa.; and Harborview Medical Center, a safety net hospital in Seattle.

After 12 months of note-sharing, doctors and patients reported on their experiences. Having easy access to their doctors’ notes helped patients feel more in control of their care. Patients also reported a better understanding of their medical issues, improved recall of their care plan, and being more likely to take their medications as prescribed.

Doctors who participated in the study reported that most of their fears about sharing their notes with patients—greater demands on their workload and confusing or worrying patients—did not materialize. Many reported that note-sharing strengthened their relationships with patients by enhancing trust and transparency, improving communication, and increasing shared decision-making.

Read the Annals of Internal Medicine study, accompanied by a patient editorial, as well as commentary from a doctor working in the Department of Veterans Affairs.