When patients set the agenda, doctors’ visits are better, new study finds

Researchers said asking patients to type a note into their medical record made for a more engaging experience.
By Bernie Monegain
03:50 PM
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Asking patients to prepare notes ahead of a doctor visit boosts physician-patient communication and efficiency, according to new research from the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The researchers asked patients at the Adult Medicine Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to type what they wanted to discuss with the doctor into their medical records using computers in the waiting room.

The results were published this week in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Both patients and doctors who participated wanted the practice to continue, according to the report’s lead author McHale Anderson, a third-year medical student at UW Medicine.

 “I think patient participation and management of their own medical record is the next transition in medical practice throughout the country,” Anderson said in a statement. 

“These findings extend the existing OpenNotes research about patient engagement and the medical record,” said Joann Elmore, MD, of UW professor of medicine. Elmore is research director for OpenNotes, a national movement that encourages doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to share the notes they write with their patients. The goal: To improve communication and safety and quality of care by giving patients online access to information they are already entitled to.

More than 80 percent of patients and doctors participating in the UW research said setting the agenda prior to the visit helped set priorities. Nearly 80 percent also agreed doctors were more prepared for the visit and better understood the patient’s concerns.

“Gave my doctor my information so I wouldn’t be nervous and forget,” one patient wrote. “Doctor and I on the same page,” another patient wrote.  Examples of doctors’ comments are: “Got time to think about issues ahead of time” and “Engaged patient to participate more in the visit, he felt heard.”

More than 60 percent of doctors and nearly 80 percent of patients said the visit was more efficient.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN

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