Ever wonder what your doctor is typing during your appointment? Or what they are writing about you after you leave? Are you curious to see what is in your medical records? You should be! There are many benefits of of OpenNotes, including access to your doctors’ notes and test results.
This access can help you engage in your care, identify errors in your records, and clear up any misunderstandings between you and your doctors. These notes also provide written reminders of issues discussed and recommendations made.
What exactly is OpenNotes?
OpenNotes is a national initiative to give patients access to notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians. It is primarily funded by foundations and CRICO (a medical malpractice insurance company with a mission to help doctors provide safe healthcare).
Although most doctors and hospitals use Electronic Health Records software, not all programs provide easy patient access. OpenNotes allows patients complete access to their medical records, including appointment notes and test results.
In 2010, OpenNotes started with more than 100 primary care doctors across the US at 3 diverse medical institutions. In 2017, 12.7 million patients in the US had access to OpenNotes.
What are the benefits of OpenNotes?
Each of the 3 original sites was part of a 12-month study to explore how sharing doctors’ notes may affect health care. The study found that providing patient access to visit notes may make care more efficient, improve communication, and most importantly may help patients become more actively involved with their health and health care.
A study conducted in 2015 found that OpenNotes helps deepen trust between doctors and patients, while improving both patient’s understanding of their health and their ability to take care of themselves.
Who uses OpenNotes?
The program, initially for primary care doctors, has been so successful that other doctors have enrolled. Specialists, mental health professionals and physical therapists are using OpenNotes.
Do you review your doctors’ notes?
You should regularly take review your doctors’ notes and test results, whether through OpenNotes or other electronic health records software. Review your notes after each appointment – if you see errors or read something you don’t understand, notify your doctor. It may seem like an unnecessary task, but it is well worth your time!
The widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) has many advantages and disadvantages. For more information, read:
- 6 Dangers of Electronic Health Records.
- Are Your Medical Records Accurate?
- Tips for Getting Copies of Your Medical Records.
NOTE: I updated this post on 8-20-21.