The “OpenNotes” Story: Helping Doctors Communicate with their Patients

stethoscope and clipboard

“What happens when we give patients access to the notes their doctors write about them?”  This is the question OpenNotes set out to answer. The goal of the study was to demonstrate and evaluate the impact on both patients and clinicians of fully sharing all encounter notes between patients and their doctors, through an electronic patient portal.

A DeSantis Breindel subsidiary, DB Productions, recently developed and produced a film project for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which has been featured on their website as part of their Pioneer Portfolio series. The subject of the film is “OpenNotes,” a grantee of the RWJF.

Part of the film shares the story of two elderly participants, Led and Mary Ellen Sexton. They said of their experience with OpenNotes, “Before we got involved with OpenNotes, we hadn’t remembered everything we were supposed to…and this way we can go back and check it.” The film shows the unanimous agreement among patients and their doctors–sharing these notes allows people to take a more active role in their health care and lead healthier lifestyles.

As media coverage of the program increases, RWJF is using the film to help communicate the message of the OpenNotes program. The findings were astounding—at the end of the study, 99% of patients wanted to have continued access to their doctor visit notes. Dr. Tom Delbanco of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said of the technology, “OpenNotes creates partnerships toward better health and health care by giving everyone on the medical team, including the patient access to the same information.” Social innovations that are able to occur through new technologies such as OpenNotes will make for a society that is more mindful of maintaining healthy habits.

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