You’re sitting in your doctor’s examination room and watching as she enters information you are relaying into the ever-present EHR. You crane your neck to get a better look at the computer screen and you notice that a blood pressure drug you are currently taking isn’t on your list of medications. You mention that to your doctor who apologizes and quickly types in the important addition so that your medical record is accurate.

Fortunately, your doctor is one of the growing number of providers who are sharing their examination notes with their patients in a relatively new initiative called OpenNotes. The program calls for the sharing of the patient’s medical record to foster communication and collaboration in developing a diagnosis and treatment plan.

OpenNotes began in 2010 when Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Geisinger Health System and Seattle-based Harborview Medical Center participated in a demonstration study in which patients were given access to their doctors’ notes. Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center among others have since adopted the practice.[1] The pilot involved more that 200,000 patients and 100 primary care physicians. Following the pilot, patients were surveyed, and the results were eye-opening.

  • Eighty percent of patients chose to read their notes.
  • Patients reported feeling more empowered and knowledgeable about their medical conditions.
  • Seventy percent of patients taking medications for ongoing illnesses reported improved adherence to their medications.

Moreover, 86% of patients reported that the availability of clinical notes would determine their choice of a future practice or clinician and 99% of them wanted their current practice to continue offering this feature.

According to a July 2019 OpenNotes press release, more than 40 million patients at 200 health systems across the U.S. and Canada can now access their clinicians’ notes using secure online patient portals.

Using OpenNotes, patients can now review exam information like:

  • Findings on physical examination
  • Interpretations of these findings
  • Conclusions about a patient’s current condition
  • Thoughts about future evaluation of the patient’s condition
  • Prognosis for the patient

Significant step in improving communications

Sharing information with patients represents a significant step in providing transparency and involving patients in their own care. This open communication and sharing can improve the accuracy of information entered and even the efficiency of notetaking and data entry.  More importantly, allowing patients to read their notes improves their understanding of their medical condition, empowering them to take control of their care and motivate them to follow physician instructions.

In our recent post “Effective Communication Key to Improving the Patient Experience,” we discussed how patient choice and loyalty plays a key factor in turnover and can significantly impact the bottom line. Allowing providers to easily share information during the exam improves the communication process and is an important element in ensuring positive feedback, patient satisfaction, and patient retention.

How can StableRise help drive the acceptance of OpenNotes?

Although many patients are accessing their provider’s exam notes through on-line patient portals, sharing notes in the exam room can also be beneficial. This can be difficult with traditional, fixed position workstations where the EHR computer is not easily seen by the patient.

StableRise solves that problem with its flexible monitor mounting technology. The arm of the monitor mount provides infinite positional flexibility and creates a “weightless” effect so that the monitor is easy to move and pivot into position for any patient to easily read the notes the doctor has entered in the EHR. Able to accommodate monitors up to 32” and 16 pounds, StableRise allows for maximum patient viewing capability while provider and patient communicate.

Patients increasingly want and need to be involved with their healthcare. Accessing the information their provider is gathering will provide the patient access to a more complete medical record, offer insight into their treatment plans, and make them a more effective partner in their healthcare journey.