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Sharing medical notes has doctors cautious, patients enthusiastic INFORMATION ACCESS

Enabling patients to see their doctors’

medical notes is a simple yet radical idea that could change the way people engage with their health and healthcare. But will it fl oat? OpenNotes, a project funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, is a program that encourages doctors to make their electronic medical notes available to patients. The “Annals of Internal Medicine” has released key fi ndings from a new study about OpenNotes, showing that patients are embracing the use of online access to their medical notes regardless of demographic or health characteristics. For the past year, patients in nine practices in Boston, rural Pennsylvania and Seattle were given access to their medical notes through secure electronic patient portals. Findings show patients are remarkably optimistic and enthusiastic about having online access to this once-secretive medical information. Participating primary care physicians (PCPs) appreciate the potential for sharing notes with patients, but many remain cautious and worry about the impact on their patients and their own workfl ow. Key fi ndings:

• Nearly all patients (92 to 97 percent) across

the three sites thought open visit notes were a good idea.

• Most (69 to 81 percent) participating PCPs across the three sites thought open visit notes were a good idea, compared with only 16 to 33 percent of doctors who declined participation. • More than one-half of participating doctors (50 to 58 percent) and most nonparticipating doctors (88 to 92 percent) expected that open visit notes would result in greater worry among patients. In striking contrast, far fewer patients concurred (12 to 16 percent).

The next step is to examine what difference the information access has made in the way patients have engaged with their health and how healthcare is delivered. The research also aims to measure how perceptions for both doctors and patients have changed regarding the benefi ts and risks of open notes and help identify what steps are needed to overcome doctors’ concerns. Find out more about OpenNotes and read the Dec. 20, 2011, “Annals of Internal Medicine” study at

New initiative seeks to accelerate advances in health IT INNOVATIONS

An internationally known health information technology (IT) leader

and a top nonprofi t health IT organization are collaborating with the Georgia Institute of Technology on a new public-private initiative designed to accelerate the use of health IT to benefi t patients and providers – as well as improve personal and population health. Open Health Tools, Inc., is a multi-stakeholder open-

source community in which member organizations collaborate to create the shared platforms and tools necessary to build affordable and easy-to-use interoperable health IT solutions. Joining the effort as its senior strategic advisor is Robert M. Kolodner, M.D., who is chief health informatics offi cer for Open Health Tools and former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The new initiative will include participants from government, healthcare providers and provider organizations, patient and personal health advocacy organizations, open- source and commercial vendors, public health organizations, academic and non-academic researchers, start- up companies and entrepreneurs. Kolodner will serve in a planning and participant coordination role, making use of his 30-plus years of experience in health IT. Learn more at

Robert M. Kolodner, M.D. Robert M Kolodner M D


February 2012


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