Dr. Wendy Harpham is a doctor of internal medicine, cancer survivor, and award-winning and best-selling author of books about cancer: Healthy Survivorship, recovery and late effects, and raising children when a parent has cancer. She is also a public speaker, patient advocate, and mother of three.
I see now that my question -- Are Open Notes good or bad for Healthy Survivors? -- is the wrong question. Patients already have the legal right to read their charts. Open Notes are here to stay. The questions I should be asking are these:
When I was in practice, I used to tease my colleagues, "I want my patients' charts to be so well-organized and thorough that if were struck down by lightning, you could easily take over their care, knowing exactly what I was thinking and planning."
For years, consumer advocates and some leaders in healthcare policy wanted to change how clinicians and the public viewed the medical chart. "[T]he Institute of Medicine urged society to view the note not as an artifact, but as a living interactive document shared between patients and providers." (from "Open Notes: Doctors and Patients Signing on").
Rabbi David Wolpe writes a wonderful blog called "Off the Pulpit" that often offers useful messages for patients. This week, Wolpe offers a tool that can help foster healing relationships, an essential element of healing for Healthy Survivors.