Experts say that ensuring access to notes written by doctors, nurses, and other clinicians can prompt patients to be more active in their own health and healthcare, and greater patient engagement can contribute to better outcomes and reduced cost throughout the system.
OpenNotes is a national initiative that urges doctors and other clinicians to offer patients ready access to their visit notes. Neither a software program nor a new technology, experts say this basic change in practice represents a major step in the movement toward greater transparency in healthcare.
Experience suggests that giving patients access to their clinical notes holds considerable promise for engaging them in their own care. For example, more than two-thirds of patients who took medications during an OpenNotes study reported improved adherence to these medications, a finding that was further validated by researchers at Geisinger Health System in a rigorous scientific study published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The investigators showed that patients being treated for high blood pressure who were offered open notes were more likely to fill their prescriptions than those without open notes.
By dramatically expanding the scope of the OpenNotes initiative to reach 50 million patients, the Center, along with the Cambia Health Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are asserting that this innovation in the delivery of care, if spread nationwide, can improve the performance of the U.S. healthcare system.