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Customer Experience and Design

Connected Health Trend Countdown: #8 Sharing Notes with Patients

Top TenOur Countdown of the Top Connected Health Trends of 2014 brings us to:

#8: Sharing Notes with Patients

The more obvious driver of this trend is Meaningful Use. However, there is a separate market push for patient record access, which is being driven by consumer engagement. As luck would have it, there was a Healthcare IT News article on this very topic that surfaced yesterday entitled “Consumers now calling for Meaningful Use” by Eric Wicklund.

Where the general trends of the marketplace are concerned, the participatory care movement has been a big catalyst of this trend. For those not in the know, this movement is being driven by patient advocates through the Society for Participatory Medicine. This group is driven towards an industry where:

“networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health, and in which providers encourage and value them as full partners”.

Quite an admirable cause, indeed.

The Results are In

Back in October, the Journal of Participatory Medicine published a study documenting patient perception of increased data access. This study surveyed Kaiser Permanente members who had viewed at least one test result online in the last year. There were a total of 1,546 respondents. The findings showed:

  • Patients that were able to view their lab results online overwhelmingly reacted positively to being able to do so
  • Survey participants reported high levels of satisfaction, appreciation, calm, happiness, and relief
  • Few were confused, upset, or angry at being able to see lab results online
  • After reviewing results online, the most common actions were discussing results with family and friends, looking up information online, or making a graph of results over time

What provider wouldn’t want to own survey results like these?

Opening the Book on Doctor’s Notes

What do you think would happen if doctors handed their notes over to patients in an effort towards patient engagement? The great thing is, we already know. OpenNotes is a program that gives patients online access to the notes of their doctors, nurses and other clinicians. The notes may contain:

  • History of present illness (what the patient told the clinician)
  • Physical exam findings (blood pressure, heartbeat, lung sounds)
  • Lab, radiology, pathology, or other results
  • Assessment or “impressions” (the clinician’s diagnosis or documentation of symptoms
  • The treatment plan

Patients who read their notes have reported many benefits, which include:

  • Better understanding of health and medical conditions
  • Improved recall of the care plan
  • Feeling more in control of care,
  • Taking better care of themselves
  • Doing better at taking medications as prescribed
  • Strengthening the partnership between patient and physician

Health Plans & the Shared Medical Record

Another, oftentimes unconsidered, source in the drive for demand of record sharing is actually the health plan. Having a storied history of largely ignoring the B2C relationship, Affordable Care and the drive towards the management of chronic conditions has brought us a health plan that is very interested in helping members gain access to their records. Understanding that patients typically don’t want their health plan involved in their care, health plans are finding consumer engagement tactics that involve providing members with tools that the provider has been slow in implementing. Access to medical records is one of those tactics.

The Truly Open Book

Driving towards a world where the patient can gain easy access to their medical records is an important trend. However, what I am most interested in seeing would have to take us another big step forward (don’t blame me, I was born that way).

We will truly have a foundation towards participatory medicine when sharing notes is a two-way street. Patients have a lot of data to share as well. The true power of consumer engagement will surface when both the patient and the clinician are able to collaborate over their shared open book.

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Melody Smith Jones

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