Study: 4 reasons patients value reading physician notes

Many patients whose providers adopt OpenNotes — a project in which providers share medical notes with their patients — report the option is helpful, according to recent research out of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The researchers — led by Macda Gerard of the hospital's department of medicine — developed a patient feedback tool linked to OpenNotes to investigate patients' motivation to engage with the EHR. The researchers invited patients who had appointments with one of two primary care teams to write comments about what they liked about reading physician notes.

Their findings, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, determined almost all of the comments (98.5 percent) said the reporting tool was valuable. The majority of respondents (68.8 percent) also provided feedback as to why they liked reading physician notes.

The researchers identified four key themes explaining why patients valued OpenNotes: to confirm and remember next steps; to access test results more quickly; to ensure confidence in their care plan; and to share information with care partners.

"Aspects of what patients like about using both notes as well as a feedback tool highlight personal, relational and safety benefits," the study authors concluded. "Future efforts to engage patients through the EHR may be guided by what patients value, offering opportunities to strengthen care partnerships between patients and clinicians."

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