Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Patients and doctors see benefits of accessing notes online

Recent research has shown that patients want their doctors to give them more access to online self-service tools and educational information. Here’s another tool both patients and physicians would like to see made available: 

Online access to doctors’ notes after an office visit.

Being able to read doctors’ notes can help improve patient satisfaction and help patients understand their health more and take better charge of their own care, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Patients have a right to see their medical records, including the doctor’s notes, though they aren’t always easy to access and often aren’t included in a record request, researchers said. Often it’s because doctors are worried about interrupting their workflows

However, 105 doctors and 13,564 patients at three different hospitals involved in the study saw positive results. For the study, patients were given access to an online system where the notes were available. After 12 to 19 months (the length was different for each hospital) of using the system, doctors and patients were surveyed.

One important result: Most people took advantage of the online access to doctors notes, with close to 87% opening at least one note. And among the 5,391 patients that answered the survey:

  • 99% said they want to continue accessing doctors’ notes online
  • 77% to 87% said being able to easily see those notes made them feel more in control of their own care, and
  • 60% to 78% said they adhered more closely to medication plans.

Likewise, doctors saw many benefits of using the system with only a minority experiencing problems. Among the 99 doctors who answered the survey:

  • 85% to 91% said giving patients online access to their notes is a good idea
  • 63% to 77% said medical care was delivered more efficiently because patients could easily access their notes
  • Just 21% to 32% said visits took longer because of the system, and
  • Just 23% to 32% said they were less candid in their notes than before.

Providers that aren’t offering online access to notes may want to consider doing so — 86% to 89% of the surveyed patients said online access to notes would affect how they choose providers in the future.

If they do, despite the benefits, there are some concerns organizations will need to address. For example, 26% to 36% did have worries about privacy. Doctors and administrative staff can help allay those fears by explaining what steps are taken to keep private information safe and secure.

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  1. This is looks like a so-called high leverage activity where patients, physicians and even operational efficiency benefit from simply making the work we do with patients more transparent.

    Appreciate the brief, timely, data rich organization of the article. Thanks very much.

    Sue Houck