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Get access to your own medical records

Do you remember days when medical care was shrouded in mystery? You wouldn’t really have gotten enough information about your diagnosis, leave alone details about your own treatment. What about medical notes?

These were always confidential, even to you, and this still remains the case in many healthcare facilities. Why should it be that way? Medical notes are all about you, you have a right to your own records.

Welcome to the world of ‘Open Notes’. This is a growing concept where doctors routinely share medical notes with you, soon as they are done. Yes, you consult for whatever reason and the doctor scribbles their usual notes. Only this time in a more legible manner, preferably electronically. You immediately get a copy of the notes, or log into a secure server and leaf through the notes in your own time.

Some doctors have done this to some extent for years, and some patients already have fat medical folders with lots of medical information. But the practice is only catching up much more now, but some are still way behind.

Is there an advantage in reading through your own medical records? Definitely yes. Some studies suggest that 80% of medical information is forgotten as soon patients leave the doctor’s room. Your recall of what was discussed is better beefed up with written records. You also feel more in control of your medical care, and your compliance with suggested treatments improves.

You may even pick out some obvious mistakes documented in your records, which could prove vital to your outcomes. The overall relationship with your doctor becomes better, and less paternalistic.

There are more advantages from the doctor’s viewpoint as well. There is improvement in patient education and communication. Patients tend to be better prepared for review visits with unhindered access to medical notes and other relevant information. Overall, your care becomes more optimized.

But some have pointed out potential pitfalls with Open Notes. Does it curb honesty from the doctors? What about medical jargon, which makes little sense to lay individuals? There may also be concerns with misinterpretation of written details. Some may find the information overwhelming and distressing. But there are ways to address such concerns. Doctors must simplify their notes, keeping everything simple and explicit. You could also opt out of getting access to your records if you find it difficult to cope with.

The era of shared responsibilities with your doctor is here to stay. Open communication and ready access to your medical information can only add value to your care. Nothing is off limits, you share the same privileges with your doctor as far as your medical details are concerned. No more blind confidentiality that can only be detrimental to optimal care. That’s the way it should be.

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Do you remember days when medical care was shrouded in mystery? You wouldn’t really have gotten enough information about your diagnosis, leave alone details about your own treatment. What about medical notes?

These were always confidential, even to you, and this still remains the case in many healthcare facilities. Why should it be that way? Medical notes are all about you, you have a right to your own records.

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