Geisinger Opens Doctors’ Notes To Patients

Posted on May 15, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Geisinger Health System is kicking off a new program under which more than 100,000 patients will have access to their doctors’ notes. Patients will access the notes through the secure MyGeisinger online patient portal, reports Healthcare Informatics.

The initiative grows out of a pilot, funded by a $1.4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The OpenNotes project, which lasted 12 months, brought together 105 primary care doctors with more than 19,000 of their patients, in an effort to see how both patients and physicians were affected by the sharing of doctors’ notes after each encounter, according to Healthcare Informatics.

The study group included 24 Geisinger primary care docs and 8,700 patients.  The rest of the patients and doctors  were drawn from Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Wash., and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Results from the pilot, which were published in the October 2012 Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that patients strongly favored seeing their physician’s notes.  Also, tellingly, no doctors asked to opt out at the study’s end.

Findings showed that patients did indeed read their notes and felt more a part of the care process when they did. Roughly 11,200  patients (or about 82 percent) opened at least one note found in their EMR.

Of patients who opened at least one note, 77 to 87 percent across the three study sites said that OpenNotes made them feel more in control of their care.  Doing so also helped them adhere to their medication regimens, the magazine said. Only a few patients reported higher levels of worry, confusion or offense due to seeing the notes.

Patients liked having the notes access so much that 85 percent reported that it would influence their choice of providers in the future.

It seems that opening up a patient portal isn’t quite the pandora’s box that some thought it could be.