Try to remember your last doctor’s visit. How did it go? You discussed your reason for being there (check up, illness, etc.), they provided recommendations and, if need be, provided proscriptions, and then the appointment was done. Or so you thought. Did you know that after you leave, your doctor is writing notes on how the visit went? This information helps them to track stress levels, blood pressures, symptoms, prescriptions, etc. from visit to visit. Shouldn’t you get access to that information too? A new study set out to see just what would come of sharing those notes with patients.
The study, published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine, held an experiment at three separate medical centers across the country, where 105 primary care physicians and more than 13,000 of their patients participated to help track the benefits and concerns of doctors sharing their notes with their patients. During the course of one year, patients were provided with an electronic notification when they could view notes from their physician via a private online portal. Of the 13,000+ patients participating, just over 5,000 accessed at least one doctor’s note and completed a survey.
Based on these results, researchers found that most of the patients who accessed their doctor’s notes were better about taking prescribed medications and were noted by their doctors as seeming more empowered in maintaining their health, and felt that their relationships with those patients grew significantly stronger. Where as most patients tend to forget a lot of the information provided to them during their initial visit, or even why they were prescribed certain medications, allowing them access to the notes allowed them to not only better remember the details of that particular visit, but to keep tabs on their own health over the course of several visits. It also empowers the patient with the choice of confidentiality. They have the option to share their information with whomever they wish, or they can keep it private. Giving them that choice also helped to provide them with more of a sense of control over their health information.
After the experiment had ended, an astounding 99% of eligible patients indicated that they wanted the open notes program to continue, though roughly 33% did mention certain concerns about privacy. The results of the study are being presented to the likes of the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and more to try and make this more of an accepted practice for healthcare providers across the country.
Dr. Boone has long supported the concept of sharing notes and other vital information directly with his patients. He makes sure to write out detailed step-by-step plans for each and every executive patient, and helps them along the way where needed. He is always open and willing to answer any questions the patients may have about past visits, as well as next steps for them to take following treatment. Dr. Boone strongly believes that the more information his patients have about their health, the better prepared they will be to maintain and even improve their health and ultimately their quality of life.