Foundations give $10 million to broaden clinical-notes access

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Foundations give $10 million to broaden clinical-notes access

OpenNotes concept, tested at Harborview, showed that patients become much more involved in their care
Brian Donohue

An initiative to spread U.S. medical patients’ access to their physicians’ clinical notes will receive a $10 million infusion, it was announced today.

The funding award for OpenNotes comes jointly from the Cambia Health Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Peterson Center on Healthcare, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

They aim to broaden such access from 5 million people, currently, to 50 million nationwide. 

OpenNotes is a national initiative that represents an aggressive step toward greater transparency in healthcare. The OpenNotes study ran from 2009 to 2013, drawing on the experiences of more than 19,000 patients and 100 primary care physicians in Boston, rural Pennsylvania and, in Seattle, at Harborview Medical Center.

The study’s major finding was that patients become much more involved in their medical care when they can read doctors’ full clinical notes as part of their online medical record. 

With this finding, UW Medicine rolled out OpenNotes to all of its inpatient clinics, starting about a year ago. 

“This transition has gone very smoothly here,” said Dr. Tom Payne, an internal medicine practitioner who is also medical director of IT for the UW Medicine system.

By dramatically expanding the scope of OpenNotes, the four national philanthropies are asserting that this innovation, if spread nationwide, can improve the U.S. healthcare system’s performance.

For the next three years, the new funding will support OpenNotes’ ability to assist providers with adoption, to reach a wide range of consumers, and to evaluate the impact of the effort on health outcomes and costs. OpenNotes will work with a broadly representative advisory board to target health care organizations and consumer advocacy groups, and also individual clinicians and consumers. 

See related story and video: UW Medicine outpatients to get access to doctors’ full notes