When patients have access to the notes their doctors write summarizing an office visit, they tend to become better patients, according to a new study in the annals of internal medicine. Researchers found, people said they not only understood their medical issues more clearly after examining their doctor's notes, but were more likely to take their medicines and felt more in control of their care.
The year long study included approximately 100 primary care doctors and more than 13,000 patients. Most patients read at least one note, which they received electronically, and a little less than half then returned surveys about the experience.
Virtually all who responded in writing wanted the practice to continue, though some were worried about privacy.
Doctors concerns that the experiment might take up too much of their time meaning longer notes and a barrage of messages from patients were largely unfounded. Some doctors did report changing the way their notes addressed mental health issues, obesity, substance abuse and the spread of cancer.
The next step is assessing this practice on a broader scale.
In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to ask your doctor for a glimpse at those notes he or she is jotting down in your chart.