Doctor doodles: getting your doctor's notes could help you take your meds

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GPs might have to improve their handwriting soon, as US researchers have found that we are more like to stick to our medication regimens when we have access to our appointment notes. The team suggests that getting a bit more info on the visit led to a better understanding of the medication, as well as an overall feeling of comfort in taking the drugs. An attached editorial author says that the research showed no adverse effects of sharing the clinical records with patients, and this method is a good means of increasing transparency between the medical world and the public.

Journal/conference: Annals of Internal Medicine

DOI: 10.7326/M18-3197

Organisation/s: Harvard Medical School, USA

Media Release

From: American College of Physicians

Giving patients access to their physicians' visit notes may improve their understanding of and comfort with their medications, as well as improve their adherence to medication regimens. A brief research report is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

As many as half of Americans with chronic illness do not take their medications as prescribed and, on average, patients remember about half of the information conveyed during an office visit. As patients increasingly read their visit notes through online portals (, reports suggest that patient access to notes may improve adherence.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Washington and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center surveyed more than 29,000 patients at the original OpenNotes pilot sites (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Geisinger, and the University of Washington Medical Center) to. The researchers found that many patients at all three survey sites reported that note reading helped them understand why a medication was prescribed, answered their questions, and made them feel more comfortable and in control of their medications. Very few of the respondents reported that notes made them feel worried or confused about their medications.

Access to physician’s notes may improve patient adherence to medications

According to the authors of an accompanying editorial from The Commonwealth Fund in New York City, the study findings are reassuring, as they showed no adverse effects of sharing clinical records with patients. The editorial authors recommend several measures, including medical education, physician preparedness regarding privacy and security protection, collaboration on mobile applications, and improved incorporation of nontraditional sources of patient information (wearables, social media, mobile devices), to improve the chances that increased transparency will have the hoped-for beneficial effects on the clinical experiences of patients and physicians.


  • American College of Physicians
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  • American College of Physicians
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    The URL will go live after the embargo ends

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