Seinfeld fans might remember the episode where Elaine can’t find anyone to treat her rash because of something a doctor wrote in her chart. She spends the whole episode trying to figure out what was in the note.
Although it made for very entertaining television, I’m happy to say that if Elaine were a patient at the Brigham today, she would have instant access to the note with just a few clicks of the mouse. In the spirit of transparency and patient safety, patients can now read doctors’ notes in their electronic health record through a feature called OpenNotes.
This is an important step toward improving communication and empowering patients to be more involved in their care, which improves outcomes. The Brigham introduced OpenNotes in January, giving patients access to summaries written by their physicians.
OpenNotes gives patients the opportunity to validate the information their provider wrote and correct inaccuracies. If a note says the patient has a peanut allergy and they don’t, the patient can simply mark it as incorrect.
During the course of an appointment, a patient may be taking in a lot of information and can forget something the doctor said. OpenNotes includes the doctor’s recommendations so patients can review them after the appointment.
Patients may also choose to give access to their health care proxy or family members.
We are working on making OpenNotes available to inpatients too. Soon everyone will be on the same page!
PS: If you haven’t seen the Seinfeld episode, here’s a quick video produced by OpenNotes featuring snippets of Elaine’s unsuccessful quest.