Thanks to a $450,000 grant from The Commonwealth Fund, five primary care facilities will be testing a new initiative that will allow patients to view and add to their visit notes in their provider’s electronic health records (EHR) system. The initiative will develop OurNotes EHR software, an extension of the OpenNotes program, in order to offer patients greater access to their own electronic health information.

Boston’s Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, Harborview Medical Center and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle and Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Missouri will all be participating in the program.

In order to improve healthcare, increasing patient engagement is a vital component. The research that will be done with this grant from The Commonwealth Fund could lead to drastic improvements in the quality of care for patients with multiple chronic health conditions.

According to BIDMC, more than 5 million patients in the United States have online access to their medical notes through EMR software. This is just one step on the path to better healthcare. The OurNotes system has the potential to be capable of anything from allowing patients to add a list of topics or questions they’d like to discuss during a visit, to inviting a patient to sign off on notes in order to ensure that patients and providers are communicating properly.

Research has shown that patients benefit greatly from being able to access these notes, particularly within their family practice EHR. Patients have reported better recall of their treatment plan, improved adherence to their medication, and an overall sense of more control when it comes to their healthcare. By allowing patients to access their electronic medical records, OurNotes will enhance communication between patients and providers and encourage patients to participate in managing their conditions more effectively and efficiently. OurNotes can lead to improvements in patient safety, better quality of care, and lower healthcare costs.

The program will focus initially on primary care involving not only patients and physicians, but also industry experts, working together to develop a user-friendly design. Prototypes will be developed for each pilot program and hopefully, this will lead to formal clinical trials of the initiative.

This process will facilitate meaningful use, as well as help healthcare industry experts as they strive to understand patient engagement and its role in reducing healthcare costs, increasing shared accountability, improving the health of patients with chronic illnesses and, most importantly, improving the overall patient experience.

Author: Lauren Daniels

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