OpenNotes reaches 10 million

The OpenNotes movement is excited to share a milestone — 10 million Americans can now read their medical notes securely online.

Overwhelmingly, patients agree that reading their notes helps them feel more in control of their health and medical conditions.

Hidden treasure. Army Medical Library, Washington DC, ca. 1955. National Library of Medicine. Images from the History of Medicine

Hidden treasure. View from behind a cataloging desk, Army Medical Library, Washington, DC, ca. 1955. National Library of Medicine, Image from the History of Medicine

OpenNotes August 2, 2016

“The results of the OpenNotes study involving 105 primary care doctors and 20,000 of their patients were shared in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012. Just four years later, we’re seeing the culture shift toward transparency in the patient and provider relationship really take hold, and we’re beginning to understand the benefits that openness brings to everyone in the health care delivery system,” said Cait DesRoches DrPH, OpenNotes Executive Director, General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

OpenNotes advocates for a fully transparent record, including the notes doctors, nurses and other clinicians write after a visit. Overwhelmingly, patients agree that reading their notes helps them feel more in control of their health and medical conditions.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and 50 health systems in 35 states now share notes online using secure patient portals, and OpenNotes is actively working with health organizations moving toward implementation in a majority of the remaining 15 states. In the last six months alone, Duke Health in North Carolina, Rush University Medical Center and Springfield Clinic in Illinois, University of Utah Health Care, Agnesian Healthcare in Wisconsin, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Sutter Medical Foundation and Open Door Community Health Center in California, Sanford Health headquartered in the Dakotas, Samaritan Health Services in Oregon, Providence Health & Services sites in Oregon and Washington, and UCHealth in Colorado have all started sharing notes.

“UCHealth is excited to be the first in the state of Colorado to offer OpenNotes to all patients in our system,” said Chen-Tan (C.T.) Lin MD, Chief Medical Information Officer at the University of Colorado Health. “Open notes are now available across the spectrum of care, from outpatient clinics to hospital discharge summaries, to emergency department notes. We believe that information transparency is crucial; an informed and engaged patient is a healthier patient.”

A Patient’s View of OpenNotes. OpenNotes. Youtube Oct 25, 2013

Among the 10 million patients who can now access their notes online, more than three million are Veterans. One of the first health systems in the country to share notes, the VA expanded patient health record access in 2013, offering VA OpenNotes through their Blue Button tool.

“VA patients tell us that having copies of their visit notes is a powerful communication tool, and provides greater control of their care,” said Susan Woods, MD, MPH, Director of Patient Experience in the Connected Care Office.

“We’re thrilled to be making progress,” said Tom Delbanco MD, co-founder of OpenNotes, General Medicine and Primary Care, BIDMC, and the Koplow–Tullis Professor of General Medicine and Primary Care at Harvard Medical School. “Ideally, the notes help tell the story of the patient’s medical life, and offering patients ready access to them is simply the right thing to do. We still have a long way to go, but 10 million is a big step toward making OpenNotes the standard of care for all patients.”

About OpenNotes
OpenNotes is a national movement that invites patients, families and clinicians to come together and improve communication through shared clinicians’ notes and fully transparent medical records. The movement is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Cambia Health Foundation.

Source OpenNotes



A Patient’s View of OpenNotes, Michael Meltsner AB JD Doctor of Laws (Hon). Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(7):523-524. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-157-7-201210020-00012.


OpenNotes: Putting Medical Record Transparency to the Test, Irene M. Wielawski. Web First version, February 2014. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Anthology: To Improve Health and Health Care, Volume XVI.

To Improve Health and Health Care, Volume XVI: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Anthology, Stephen L. Isaacs (Editor), David C. Colby (Editor), Risa Lavizzo-Mourey (Foreword by. ISBN: 978-1-119-00078-5 October 2014. Jossey-Bass.

  Further reading

Embedding and Integrating a Digital Patient Management Platform Into Everyday Primary Care Routines: Qualitative Case Study, Frennert S, Erlingsdóttir G, Muhic M, Rydenfält C, Milos Nymberg V, Ekman B. JMIR Form Res. 2022 Feb 22;6(2):e30527. doi: 10.2196/30527. Full text, PDF

A Theoretical Twist on the Transparency of Open Notes: Qualitative Analysis of Health Care Professionals’ Free-Text Answers, Erlingsdóttir G, Petersson L, Jonnergård K. J Med Internet Res. 2019 Sep 25;21(9):e14347. doi: 10.2196/14347. Full text

OpenNotes After 7 Years: Patient Experiences With Ongoing Access to Their Clinicians’ Outpatient Visit Notes, Walker J, Leveille S, Bell S, Chimowitz H, Dong Z, Elmore JG, Fernandez L, Fossa A, Gerard M, Fitzgerald P, Harcourt K, Jackson S, Payne TH, Perez J, Shucard H, Stametz R, DesRoches C, Delbanco T. J Med Internet Res. 2019 May 6;21(5):e13876. doi: 10.2196/13876. Full text

What Patients Value About Reading Visit Notes: A Qualitative Inquiry of Patient Experiences With Their Health Information, Monitoring Editor: Chris Gibbons, Reviewed by Lynn Garvin and Gemmae Fix. Macda Gerard BA, Alan Fossa MPH, Patricia H Folcarelli RN PhD, Jan Walker RN MBA, and Sigall K Bell MD. J Med Internet Res. 2017 Jul; 19(7): e237. Published online 2017 Jul 14. doi: 10.2196/jmir.7212

A patient feedback reporting tool for OpenNotes: implications for patient-clinician safety and quality partnerships, Sigall K Bell, Macda Gerard, Alan Fossa, Tom Delbanco, Patricia H Folcarelli, Kenneth E Sands, Barbara Sarnoff Lee, Jan Walker. BMJ Qual Saf 2017;26:312-322.

Also see
OpenNotes Passes the 20 Million Mark OpenNotes
Physicians React: Doctors Worry About Patients Reading Their Clinical Notes Medscape
Patients Reading Visit Notes Report Striking Benefit Over Time in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
The Rise of the Patient Voice OpenNotes
Medical Economics: Patient record transparency and the impact on physicians OpenNotes
Doctors see patients taking a greater role in their own care the Chicago Tribune
10M Patients Access Electronic Health Data through OpenNotes Patient Engagement
50 million more patients to get OpenNotes! Huge win for empowered partnership!

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