Survey Finds Patients Excited, Physicians Hesitant About Open-access Medical Notes -- AAFP News Now -- American Academy of Family Physicians
"Patients want to see their doctors' notes. Some doctors aren't so sure that's a good idea... Researchers at the three sites participating in the OpenNotes pilot -- Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and the Geisinger Health System in central and northeastern Pennsylvania -- surveyed some 173 primary care physicians and nearly 38,000 patients during the sign-up phase of the 12-month pilot, which launched in summer 2010... The survey findings, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine...show that patients ‘expressed considerable enthusiasm and few fears (about viewing the notes), anticipating both improved understanding and more involvement in care.’ A recent release from the study authors indicated that although many of the primary care doctors who volunteered to participate in OpenNotes predicted possible health benefits, the balance of those who chose not to participate voiced doubts about positive impacts... ‘Among the 173 doctors completing surveys, the majority expressed concerns about confusing or worrying patients with the content,’ the authors said. ‘Doctors also anticipated that they would write their notes less candidly and that responding to patient questions might be exceedingly time-consuming...’ But to family physician Douglas Iliff, M.D., of Topeka, Kan., the study physicians' trepidation is just ‘silly.’ Giving patients access to their medical notes not only keeps him honest, said Iliff, it also engenders trust and calms patients' fears by offering proof that he is ‘shooting straight with them.’ In an editorial (excerpt) that accompanied the results of the baseline survey, co-authors Thomas Feeley, M.D., and Kenneth Shine, M.D., point out that although privacy concerns are important, patients have a legal right to see their own medical records and share them with whomever they choose. With the yearlong pilot study now over, researchers have begun to evaluate data from follow-up surveys completed by participating doctors and patients and analyzing other metrics, including how often patients reviewed their notes, shared them with others or corrected errors their doctors may have made. No date has been given for the release of final results from the pilot, which is being funded, in part, by a $1.4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio."