The law says yes. Prior to 1996, patients had to sue to see their own records. Since HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—patients are guaranteed by law to have access to their records. However, the process for getting medical records is often so cumbersome that people don’t look at them, and usually not well after their medical visit.
In my medical training, I learned that the medical record is a tool for doctors to communicate with each other. But could it be harnessed as a collaborative tool for patients?
|When Patients Read What Their Doctors Write|
My latest NPR article discusses ongoing national experiments to provide open access to patients not only of their test results, but also their doctor’s notes. Participating doctors were initially opposed to the concept, but the results from the experiment have been striking:
· 80% of patients who saw their records reported better understanding of their medical condition and said they were in better control of their health;
· Two-thirds reported that they were better at sticking with their prescriptions;
· 99% percent of the patients wanted OpenNotes to continue
When patients see their records, there's more trust and more accuracy. But that doesn’t mean that OpenNotes is a panacea. There are new controversies that are arising. I address them in this article, and also on Weekend Edition. Listen here for the interview with legendary journalist Linda Wertheimer.
What do you think? Should patients have full access to what their doctors write about them?