'Increasing patient access to doctors' notes should be on the radar screen of all healthcare providers'

OpenNotes shows success with medication adherence

By Jessica Davis
03:32 PM

Patients with online access to doctors' notes are more likely to adhere to their medication regimens, a two-year Geisinger Health System study reports.

This is the first large-scale study to reveal how doctors' notes affect patients when it comes to taking their prescriptions, researchers say.

Geisinger has been involved with the OpenNotes initiative, first conceived at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, since 2010. The program directly connects patients to their physician's notes through an online portal.

[See also: OpenNotes: 'This is not a software package, this is a movement']

The study analyzed data from 2,147 adult patients taking cholesterol or hypertension control medications. Nearly 80 percent of patients in the study adhered to their physician's advice when provided access to personalized online examination notes.

"Encouraging patients to utilize a Web portal to view their doctors' notes is a cost-effective and efficient way to influence medication-taking behavior," said Eric A. Wright, the study's lead investigator and research investigator at Geisinger's Center for Health Research and associate professor of pharmacy practice at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, in a press statement.

[See also: OpenNotes showing benefits at BIDMC]

"Providing patients access to their doctors' notes and reminding them to read them before visiting their doctor is key to reinforcing the doctors' rationale for prescribing specific medications and dosage," he added.

National studies show increased prescription adherence is better for overall patient health and reduces costs of healthcare services. In fact, non-adherence increases healthcare costs by over $100 billion, annually, according to some experts in the report.

Non-adherence is the cause of 30 to 50 percent of failed treatments and 125,000 annual deaths, Consumer Health Information Corporation noted in the press statement.

"Based on this study and our prior OpenNotes reports, increasing patient access to fully transparent doctors' notes should be on the radar screen of all healthcare providers," Wright concluded.

Full results of the Geisinger retrospective comparative analysis can be found in the November 2015 Journal of Medical Internet Research.

[See also: Proposed patient access change sparks MU debate]