Recording notes about a patient is standard practice among physicians and has often left patients curious about what is written down about them.

While federal law guarantees patients the right to examine and get copies of their medical records, it hasn’t always been an easy process to go through.

In fact, there has been some reluctance on doctors to reveal this information in a timely manner. Misunderstanding the notes is a concern for doctors. Many clinicians are troubled by the prospect that patients may get confusing news without a healthcare provider available to explain the context of the information.

Despite this, a recent survey published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that the public has a desire to see them. In fact, most patients thought open visit notes were a good idea.

“The study surveyed 173 doctors and nearly 38,000 patients at three primary-care practices about sharing information with patients. After the survey, the practices joined a project called OpenNotes, in which patients were give electronic access to their files.”

The OpenNotes project demonstrates and evaluates the impact of sharing encounter notes between patients and their primary care physicians (PCPs) online.

“The project involves 3 diverse settings– Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and its associated primary care practices in Boston, MA, Geisinger Health System (GHS) and its primary care practices in rural Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center (HMC), a county hospital and safety net provider in Seattle, WA.”

The options for sharing information with patients doesn’t end there. In 2010 Quest Diagnostics released a free smartphone app called Gazelle that lets patients in 33 states including DC download their lab test results directly to their phone. Though, patients using Gazelle can’t get direct results on HIV, cancer or genetic diagnostic tests.  All other test results have a 48-hour delay on them in order to give physicians time to contact the patient first about the findings.

“No one wants to see their diagnosis of cancer on their own without a medical professional,” says Jonathan Darer, chief innovation officer for Geisinger Health System, which makes most patient information available online. “We try to manage that.”

Source: Washington Post