Hugh Pickens writes "Roni Caryn Rabin says patients have a legal right to their medical records, though access can prove difficult. But what would happen if patients were encouraged not just to see their medical records but to take them home, study them and really own them? A research collaboration called OpenNotes set out to answer this question, publishing the first results of a study on physician and patient attitudes toward shared medical records and demonstrating that for patients, at least, shared medical records seems to be an idea whose time has come. 'That's the great challenge in medicine: getting patients to be more active in their own care,' says Dr. Tom Delbanco, a principal investigator of the study. 'What we're doing is opening the black box and letting you look inside.' Dr. Delbanco and his colleagues recruited more than 100 primary care doctors who were already using electronic health records to volunteer to share their medical notes with patients. Patients were enthusiastic: 90 percent thought they would be more in control of their care if they saw the notes. They weren't worried about being confused and most said seeing the record would help them take better care of themselves helping them better remember their treatment plan, understand it and take their medication. The goal is to engage patients more fully in their own health. 'Knowledge is power,' says Jan Walker, the study's senior author. 'A patient goes to the doctor only once in a while, but in between visits, you're making all kinds of decisions that affect your health every single day.'"
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