Majority of patients with access to doctors' patient notes are not confused, find it useful

Researchers polled 23,710 patients or their caregivers and found that 62% consider having access to clinician-documented visit notes via a web-based portal as an important factor in their search for a new health provider, and 98% said it was a good idea to have web-based access to clinical visit notes. The findings, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, also showed that 72% of patients cited the importance of note reading in their health management, while 65% remember their care plans by accessing clinical notes.

Background: Following a 2010-2011 pilot intervention in which a limited sample of primary care doctors offered their patients secure Web-based portal access to their office visit notes, the participating sites expanded OpenNotes to nearly all clinicians in primary care, medical, and surgical specialty practices.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the ongoing experiences and perceptions of patients who read ambulatory visit notes written by a broad range of doctors, nurses, and other clinicians.

Conclusions: In this first large-scale survey of patient experiences with a broad range of clinicians working in practices in which shared notes are well established, patients find note reading very important for their health management and share their notes frequently with others. Patients are rarely troubled by what they read, and those traditionally underserved in the United States report particular benefit. However, fewer than half of clinicians and patients actively address their shared notes during visits. As the practice continues to spread rapidly in the United States and internationally, our findings indicate that OpenNotes brings benefits to patients that largely outweigh the risks.