Research: Access to Docs' Notes Increases Medication Adherence | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research: Access to Docs' Notes Increases Medication Adherence

November 4, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Researchers at the Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System have found that patient access via a web portal to their doctors' notes is associated with improved adherence to a medication regimen.

Geisinger says this is the first large-scale study to show that access to doctors' notes helps patients take their medicines as prescribed. Specifically, among patients with access to notes from their primary care doctor, 79.7 percent were adherent to antihypertensive medications in contrast to only 75.3 percent of controls. While patient access to doctors' notes did not appear to influence adherence to antihyperlipidemic medications, participating doctors pointed to a number of documentation issues that may explain those findings.

For the study, appearing in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Geisinger researchers analyzed data from 2,147 adult patients who took at least one blood pressure or cholesterol medication from March 2009 to June 2011.These medications are widely prescribed for common conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Geisinger was one of three leading healthcare organizations that first participated in the OpenNotes movement beginning in 2010; each of the three sites was part of a 12-month study to explore how sharing doctors’ notes may affect healthcare. Patients reported feeling more in control of their health, being better prepared for their visits and several other benefits. Doctors saw little or no impact on their work flow. In the five years since the launch of the study, the number of patients who are able to read their visit notes has grown to more than five million nationwide.

What’s more, researchers from Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, another of the three original OpenNotes organizations, (BIDMC) recently found that this kind of patient engagement has the power to improve safety and quality of care. In that research, patients said, among other things, that their doctors' notes helped them remember to take their medications better and recall more of what happened during office visits. Some noticed errors in their records that were subsequently corrected. Others read the notes and were reminded to follow up on clinically significant appointments

The feedback at Geisinger has been similar. "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," explained Eric A. Wright, Pharm.D., a research investigator at Geisinger's Center for Health Research, associate professor of pharmacy practice at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, and the study's lead investigator. "We demonstrated that encouraging patients to utilize a web portal to view their doctors' notes is a cost effective and efficient way to influence medication-taking behavior. 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," he added.

According to national studies, increasing medication adherence improves patients' overall health while reducing their use of healthcare services, such as hospitals, which leads to a lower overall cost of care. Some experts estimate that medication non-adherence costs the U.S. $100 billion per year in excess healthcare costs. Most importantly, non-adherence causes 30 to 50 percent of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually, according to the Consumer Health Information Corporation.

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Study will Leverage Connecticut HIE to Help Prevent Suicides

A new study will aim to leverage CTHealthLink, a physician-led health information exchange (HIE) in Connecticut, to help identify the factors leading to suicide and to ultimately help prevent those deaths.

Duke Health First to Achieve HIMSS Stage 7 Rating in Analytics

North Carolina-based Duke Health has become the first U.S. healthcare institution to be awarded the highest honor for analytic capabilities by HIMSS Analytics.

NIH Releases First Dataset from Adolescent Brain Development Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the release of the first dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will enable scientists to conduct research on the many factors that influence brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.