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The Work on OpenNotes Will Continue Thanks to Grant Funding

January 23, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), in Boston, has received a grant of $450,000 from The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit organization, also in Boston, to develop and improve a patient engagement initiative. 
The initiative, OurNotes, invites patients to contribute/alter their own electronic medical records (EMRs). OurNotes is an extension of OpenNotes, a movement that has impacted the way patients engage with their record at BIDMC, Geisinger, and other major healthcare provider organizations. A 2012 OpenNotes study, widely cited by those promoting the effectiveness of sharing EMR data with the patients, showed that doing so was beneficial to all involved parties.
"Our research has shown -- and feedback from patients continues to confirm -- that patients benefit from reading their visit notes. For example, patients say they have better recall of the treatment plan, feel more in control of their health care, and report improved adherence to medications," stated Jan Walker, R.N. principal investigator, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "We believe that OurNotes, which will enable patients to contribute to their own medical records, has the potential to further enhance communication and engage patients in managing illness more effectively and efficiently, leading to improved patient safety and quality of care and potentially, to lower health care costs."
The grant will affect those involved with the 2012 study, including BIDMC, Geisinger, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. It will also be used for more recent OpenNotes adopters, Group Health Cooperative, also in Seattle and Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, MO. Walker says that the researchers will use the grant money to better target what kinds of information patients and providers want shared. From there, researchers plan to develop prototypes at each site and to conduct pilot testing that, in turn, will lead toward formal clinical trials.

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