‘OpenNotes’ may unnecessarily bother doctors

‘OpenNotes’, a new software that enables doctors to keep their notes online for the easy access by their patients could lead to unnecessary worry, suggests a preliminary report on the new project.

The project, allowing 25000 patients from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts, Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center in Washington state (Neergaard), is not considered safe by some doctors and medical practitioners.

Patients might not be able to comprehend the notes efficiently and fall in an unsafe situation.

On the other hand, it might lead to editing of the notes in a more patient friendly tone by the doctors.

This can lead to performance negligence as doctors ought to record their patient’s notes in the same format that they are accustomed to.

Confuse patients
Some doctors are of the view that the notes are meant only for the doctor and could confuse or upset the patient.

The researchers write, “Opening documents that are often both highly personal and highly technical is anything but simple; the implications are broad and filled with uncertainty,” adding, “Doctors’ notes can also stifle or fuel the fires of litigators”

Under the project, the researchers will monitor the patients’ use of the notes, which will be available on a secure website.

It could make patients anxious on finding notes which are based on mere speculations of developing a serious ailment.

Moreover, obstacles like an additional fee or the monitoring of the portal are other challenges the program might face in future.

The project details
The yearlong OpenNotes project, funded through a $1.4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to assess the effects of providing patients with access to the notes their physicians make during consultations.

Under the project, the researchers will monitor the patients’ use of the notes, which will be available on a secure website.

Doctors’ habits also will be monitored to determine whether they are censoring themselves or writing more patient-friendly notes.

The patients and doctors would then fill out questionnaires and reports about whether the project helped or was useless.

Enabling patients to read the doctors’ notes would surely help them better understand their condition and improve communication and shared decision-making between the doctor and patient.

A patient’s medical record belong to the patient and he has the right to ask for copies of everything health professionals enter into their files, suggest some experts.

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