For patients to be active partners in their own care, they need quick access to their personal medical information.
in three very different settings: an urban teaching hospital and associated communitybased practices (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston), primarily rural practices (Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa.), and clinics at a safety net urban hospital (Harborview Medical Center in Seattle). We are learning that patients are overwhelmingly interested in gaining rapid access to their notes and that many doctors appreciate the potential for open records to improve care.
The enthusiasm of patients appears to cut across all lines of age, health status and education. And while many doctors turned down our invitation to join the one-year project, citing fears that their notes would adversely affect their already onerous work flow and frighten or confuse patients, only one doctor who signed up for the study later dropped out, and that was for personal reasons.
Moreover, hallway conversations indicate that doctors have not experienced significant disruptions to their work, an impression consistent with several earlier, albeit smaller studies focusing on subspecialists caring for patients with diabetes or heart failure. One doctor who was initially very hesitant told us recently that she feels “much safer” with her patients reviewing what she writes, and others Dr. Tom Delbanco and Jan Walker are clinicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and teach at Harvard Medical School.