Open Sesame! Your Medical Records Now Available Post-Appointment

Admit it.  Wouldn't you love to know what your doctor's saying about you when he taps away on his iPad? Is it that you need to lose weight?  Or see a therapist? Or, God forbid, you smell?  Or is he secretly just checking his email?

Well, now, in some parts of the country, you can.  According to, a new app, OpenNotes, allows doctors to share their notes with patients as part of treatment.

If you're a patient at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, rural Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System and Seattle’s Harborview, you're one of the lucky ones.  These medical centers recently completed the first trial of OpenNotes and 14,000 patients got to see immediately after their appointments the electronic notes penned by their doctors and nurses, the story notes.

Here's the best news of all.  The study found that 60% of patients reported they took medications more regularly (up to 30% of prescriptions are usually not filled and up to 50% not taken), and 77% said they felt more in control of their care.  

Michael J.Coren writes that it's not all wine and roses just yet.  In the past, there were many failed attempts, and some patients now, impossible to know ahead of time who, may not do well with this kind of access.

"OpenNotes is like a new medicine that is beneficial to most patients but will harm some; how can we identify those patients and then address the situation openly and honestly?" Coren quotes Jan Walker, a principal investigator of OpenNotes and medical researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Would you want to know what your doctor's written about you?  I think back to my own cancer experience and I'm not so sure I would have wanted to see the notes that, though it was Stage 0, the growth of my abnormal cells was at the most aggressive stage, very close to becoming Stage 1.  Did I need to know that? With my PhD in worry and anxiety, I'd probably be stringing beads in an institution by now!

Yet, it can't hurt us to have all the facts because that makes us better-informed patients, who have choices about our care.  Doctors were just about ending house calls when I was growing up, and you no more questioned a doctor than you pulled your fingernails out with pliers (they kind of made you feel that way when you did).

But knowledge is power and it's hard to imagine how having it now wouldn't be a good thing.


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