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Screen capture of BMJ OpenNotes article

Click to go to the BMJ article

OpenNotes logoOur Society for Participatory Medicine is all about effective patient-clinician partnerships, and to us that simply requires patient access to all information about the case. As SPM co-founder Dr. Danny Sands often says in his speeches, “How can patients participate if they can’t see what I see??”

So, naturally, this blog has been one of the biggest, loudest boosters of the OpenNotes project. (Our many posts are listed here, especially the first one and the results post.) There are many, many stories of how healthcare works better – happier patients, better outcomes – when patients are empowered to collaborate by not being kept apart from what their “hired experts” (docs) have written.

But in my travels I’ve often heard people talk about the cultural and policy differences between US healthcare and other countries, so I’m thrilled that in the big Patient Centred Care supplement that the BMJ published yesterday (see our post with the list of articles), they included a major (2300 word) article on the US experience.

OpenNotes adoption map feb 2015

Click to visit OpenNotes adoption map page

Prepping for this post, lead author Jan Walker told me, “Transparency is a worldwide concept” – the article adds to previous OpenNotes publications, citing similar initiatives in other countries! Estonia, Sweden, and even parts of the UK. (While in London to record the podcast that’s in the issue, I got to meet Dr. Amir Hannan, who’s been sharing notes with his patients for years. He too was in the podcast.)

So when you tell friends about OpenNotes – or when you ask your care providers to give you OpenNotes – let them know:

  • It’s no longer a fringe thing – over 4.8 million Americans in many health systems have access to their records
  • It’s no longer just in America.
  • Now it’s got the endorsement of the editors of the BMJ
  • It works. Nobody who’s implemented it has said “Those findings in the articles are not happening here.”

The founder of our movement, “Doc Tom” Ferguson, was fond of citing futurist and science fiction author William Gibson, who famously said “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” Be bold – change the world – ask for it, and point to the evidence.




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