Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Allows Online Access to Medical Notes

If you're a BIDMC patient, you can now read your doctor's notes online.


If you’re a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center patient, you’ll be able to view medical notes from your own laptop, thanks to OpenNotes. Doctor with Charts Image via Shutterstock.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) patients will now have online access to the notes that doctors and nurses make about them during care, the hospital announced last week.

Through a program called OpenNotes, online records are now available for all primary care, orthopedics, and rehabilitation services patients from BIDMC. The medical center plans to have all outpatient notes from all specialties available by the end of 2013, according to the announcement. That means that they will have records available to almost a quarter of a million patients. Inpatient notes will be available in 2014.

“BIDMC is among the first medical centers in the country, and the first in Massachusetts, to invite patients to participate in this transparent approach to care,” Dr. Mark Zeidel, Chair of BIDMC’s Department of Medicine, said in the announcement. “We are confident that it is the right thing to do. Why? Many of our primary care physicians and patients were among more than 100 volunteering PCPs and 20,000 patients who completed a one-year, multi-center trial of OpenNotes. Doctors involved saw benefits for their patients and little, if any, burden for themselves.”

After each appointment or discussion, patients will receive an email urging them to read about their visit on PatientSite, BIDMC’s secure patient website. Why add this kind of transparency to care? The patients who took part in the trial period said that reading the notes helped them to better understand their health conditions, to take their medications, and to feel more in control of their care.

“I think it definitely helps patients take more ownership of their care and be more engaged in what’s happening,” Dr. Kim Ariyabuddhiphongs, a primary care physician who participated in the study, said in the announcement. “This is a clear step towards, ‘this is about you, this is what we’re doing, and this is why it’s important’ and it just brings the patient into that whole discussion just a little bit more.”

Several new partnerships have recently been forged between BIDMC and other local institutions, and a $2.1 million grant was given to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the organization involved in funding the OpenNotes initiative, several months ago, meaning that this trend of transparency in patient care is likely to spread quickly throughout the Northeast region and the country.