For almost as long as electronic health records have been in existence, patients have been expressing a strong desire to view them and modify or correct the information within them.  Especially with earlier programs where mistakes abound due to reliance on templates for input, the ability to amend one’s own chart is not only appealing, but crucial for future care.

Introducing OurNotes

The Commonwealth Fund has bestowed a $450,000 grant upon Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to launch a pilot program giving patients the ability to input their electronic health records.

OurNotes is the program allowing patients easy access to their physicians’ entries online.  This unprecedented process allows patients to write directly into their own EHRs.

Honing in on primary care to start, healthcare providers will also be involved in the design and entry process. Each physician will be questioned as to what type of information they think would be helpful to receive from patients.  Likewise, they will be asking patients what kind of information they would like to add themselves in the interactive process.

According to Jan Walker, RN, a member of the research faculty of BIDMC’s division of general medicine and a co-director of the OpenNotes project:

“We believe that OurNotes, which will enable patients to contribute to their own medical records, has the potential to further enhance communication and engage patients in managing illness more effectively and efficiently, leading to improved patient safety and quality of care and potentially, to lower healthcare costs.”

HIMSS Media Patient Engagement Summit 

This conference will take place on Feb.10th at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando.  Melissa Anselmo, the National OpenNotes Program Director will discuss the salient features and why patients rave about it.  Physicians will be looking at this program for future use as well, overcoming an initial resistance.

“We envision the potential capability of OurNotes to range from allowing patients to, for example, add a list of topics or questions they’d like to cover during an upcoming visit, creating efficiency in that visit, to inviting patient to review and sign off on notes after a visit as way to ensure that patients and clinicians are on the same page,” said Walker.

5 Sites to receive grant  

Boston Deaconess is not the only facility to implement OpenNotes.  The Commonwealth Fund will give grants to:

  •       Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Mo.
  •       Geisinger Health System, Pennyslvania
  •       Harborview Medical Center, Seattle
  •       Group Health Cooperative, Seattle

“We know that increasing patient engagement is a critical component of improving health care, and we hope to build on BIDMC’s well-established work in this area,” said Anne-Marie Audet, MD, Vice President at The Commonwealth Fund. “This research will explore the potential for OurNotes to help improve care among the most medically complex patients-those with multiple chronic health conditions.”

Information from each site will contribute to the development of prototypes, leading to formal clinical trials.

“We envision OurNotes as a therapeutic intervention that will prove effective over time for a wide range of patients, especially those struggling with chronic health concerns,” said Jonathan Darer, MD, chief innovation officer at Geisinger Health System, in a statement.

“We expect this process to enlighten our understanding of patient and family engagement and its role in reducing healthcare costs, increased shared accountability, improving the health of those with chronic illness and multiple comorbidities and, most importantly, enhancing the overall patient experience of care,” he added.

It seems to me that this program enabling patients to contribute toward their records as well as their care is very exciting and important in paving the way toward interaction between patients and physicians.  OurNotes and others to follow give real meaning toward patient engagement and not just lip service.

Adding to your EHR records and adding data takes Patient Portals to the next level.  We are watching the system evolve based on trust and need.  It’s time has come!

How receptive are you to using this program?  Please add your views in the comment box below.