Inviting Patients to Read Their Doctors’ Notes

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By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP™

In an OpenNotes study, researchers examined the impact on patients and doctors when patients were allowed access to their doctors’ notes via a secure Internet portal.

Through the use of surveys, patients’ benefits, concerns, and behaviors, as well as physicians workload, were measured.

The Study

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, Geisinger Health System (GHS) in Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center (HMC) in Seattle were selected for this quasi-experimental year-long study.

The study included 105 physicians and 13,564 of their patients. Patients were notified when their notes were available, but whether or not to open the note was at their own discretion. The authors analyzed both pre- and post-intervention surveys from the physicians who completed the study; 99 physicians submitted both pre- and post-intervention surveys. Of the patients who viewed at least one note, 41 percent completed post-intervention surveys.


Physician Executive


Almost 99 percent of patients at BIDMC, GHS, and HMC wanted to have continued access to their visit notes at the completion of the study; no physician elected to end this practice.


Although a limited geographic area was represented, the positive feedback and clinically relevant benefits demonstrate the potential for a widespread adoption of OpenNotes.

Moreover, it may be a powerful tool in helping improve the lives of patients.

Citation: Inviting Patients to Read Their Doctors’ Notes: Author(s): Delbanco, T; Walker, J; Bell, SK and Darrer, JD et al: American College of Physicians, Annals of Internal Medicine, October 2012

Open Notes, a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was developed to demonstrate and evaluate the impact on both patients and clinicians of fully sharing (through an electronic patient portal) all encounter notes between patients and their primary care providers.


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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:





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