OpenNotes: Taking Patient/Provider Communication to the Next Level

For Dr. Susan Woods, one of our clinical advisors, a personal health record is one of the key ways to forge a deeper relationship between patients and providers. As a practicing physician with the VA of Portland and Oregon Health Sciences, Dr. Woods is well acquainted with the value of patient engagement and has been a longtime advocate of medical records transparency.

While plenty of Dr. Woods' colleagues share a belief in transparency as a means to patient empowerment, few were as quick to embrace Open Notes, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative designed to gives patients easy access to their physician's notes.

As Dr. Woods points out on her blog, more than 40 years have passed since Shenkin and Warner predicted, in the New England Journal of Medicine, that patients given a "complete and unexpurgated copy of all medical records" would improve patient/provider communication and overall patient satisfaction. As RWJF reported last fall, they were right: More than 70% of patients in a two-year study of Open Notes said that seeing notes helped them better manage their own care, including medication adherence. And a whopping 99% of patients said they wanted to continue with open notes.

As is often the case, this infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation speaks volumes about the implications of open notes for patient participation in their health care. With results like these, we look forward to the day when a physician's notes will be an integral part of an individual's personal health record on Dossia.