One compelling reason to give patients access to their medical records is that they can help correct errors and catch omissions, potentially reducing medical malpractice liability. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, the VA, Geisinger Health System and Kaiser Permanent are all giving patients access to physician notes.
Geisinger’s chief of innovation, Jonathan Darer, says the goal is to link patients and physicians in a relationship of “shared accountability” for their health.
Research by a University of Chicago research organization has shown that patients with access to their medical information are more likely to ask questions, identify mistakes and provide additional relevant information. In a pilot study conducted by the researchers at Geisinger, patients with chronic disease were invited to go online to update medication lists and 90% of them requested corrections.
Darer acknowledges that there may be some uncomfortable moments when patients question inaccuracies, but suggests that physicians will benefit by reduced medical malpractice liability. Geisinger is broadening the medication review initiative as well as its Open Notes project, which gives more than 150,000 patients the ability to access physician notes online through a patient portal.
A Geisinger physician, Richard Martin, MD, who expected younger patients to be the most active users of Open Notes, but he was wrong. “It really turned out older folks use it the most and get the most benefit, because they are the sickest and taking the most medication,” he told the WSJ.