As hospitals transition to electronic health systems, information sharing is designed to be easier between providers. A recent post on this blog looked at the benefits of physicians sharing EHR information with community pharmacists. Patients are also looking for access to this information, which many physicians are hesitant to deliver for fear of malpractice. However, a new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that when patients are given access to their primary care physicians’ visit notes, which are routinely stored in the EHR, their medication adherence may increase.
The “OpenNotes” study gave patients full visibility into physician notes through an online portal. Over 2,000 patients were involved in the study, with about a third of them having access to these notes and the remaining patients having access to the online portal that did not contain any notes. Not only did patients who had access to the notes report feeling more in control of their healthcare, but they were able to better prepare for future visits and reported higher levels of medication adherence.
Sharing Physician Notes Is Good First Step
It is important to note, however, that while adherence rates of antihypertensive medications did improve when patients had access to physician notes, adherence rates for antihyperlipidemic medications was about the same in both groups of patients involved in the study (the intervention and the control). Furthermore, average adherence didn’t surpass 80%.
What this indicates is that in addition to providing access to visit notes, physicians need to take a more active role in improving patient behaviors. If patients read in their physicians’ notes that they need to improve their adherence or they’re going to develop heart disease, they may be inclined to change their behavior but not have the tools necessary or know where to begin.
By providing this information directly to patients, or directing them to a community pharmacist who can offer ongoing chronic condition management support, physicians will have better success in changing patient behaviors and improving health outcomes.