Imagine you’re a patient who’s just been diagnosed with prediabetes. Your provider, Dr Myia, is talking to you about your diagnosis and care plan, but you’re anxious about your condition and have a hard time remembering what Dr Myia is saying. As a result, you don’t fully understand how to manage your care. Following your care steps is crucial—it prevents your prediabetes from progressing into type 2 diabetes, which is more serious. Thankfully, Plato’s shared notes help providers better support patients in their care. Before delving into the benefits and use cases of sharing notes, let’s see how note sharing can help Sofia, a patient with prediabetes, in her care journey:
Benefits of Sharing Notes with Your Patients
Research from multiple studies—Bell et al. (2018), Delbanco et al. (2012), Esch et al. (2016), Fossa et al. (2018), Ross et al., (2004), Walker et al. (2019) and Wolff, Darer, et al. (2016)—conclude that sharing notes with patients can help them:
Common Use Cases for Sharing Notes with Patients
When it comes to complex diagnoses and treatments, it can be hard for patients to manage their care. The simple act of sharing notes with patients can go a long way in helping them understand, accept and improve their conditions. Patients with complex, long-term or chronic conditions have been found to benefit the most from shared notes (Zanaboni et al., 2020).
1) Complex Care
Complex illnesses are often overwhelming and confusing for patients. For example, a patient with multiple chronic diseases will need to consult different specialists, undergo various treatments and take an array of medicines. When doctors share notes with patients, it helps them remember what was discussed in visits, understand the next steps in their care journey and adhere to their medicines. Research by Maly et al. (1999) found that after patients with chronic disease were given copies of their progress notes, they became more satisfied with their physician’s care and reported an 8.3% improvement in their overall health condition. Cancer patients, in particular, may also find shared notes particularly valuable, since they often face a larger information burden than other patients. In research by Salmi et al. (2020), 70% of oncology clinicians and 98% of patients agreed that sharing notes with patients was advantageous. The team concluded few differences between the views of oncology clinicians and all other clinicians, suggesting that all specialties and their patients can benefit from shared notes.
2) Care Plans
Treatment plans can be difficult for the patient to remember, especially if they are busy working adults or getting on in age. Patients tend to remember diagnosis-related information better than instructions on treatment. Written notes can help patients retain verbal information better (Kessels, 2003). Let’s say you have a cardiovascular patient who’s been prescribed to engage in moderate activity daily for 30 minutes. Your instructions include detailed notes on warming up and cooling down through various stretches. It also includes guidance on what to do if your patient cannot complete the 30-minute exercise. On top of this, your patient has been prescribed 5 types of medicines, each with a different dosage. By sharing a summary of the full treatment plan, your patient can better manage their care at home. They can refer to their notes whenever they are unsure about the care plan, which helps them better adhere to their medicines and exercise routine.
3) Share Direct Lab/Radiology Results
When patients have a record of their completed tests, it improves efficiency in care and minimises redundant or duplicate tests. Tests can significantly add to a patient’s healthcare expenses, especially imaging. For example, a patient visits a rheumatologist about arthritis in his hands. The rheumatologist asks the patient if he’s had any MRI done recently. The patient checks his shared notes to see if he has his test result on hand. Bingo! He finds the MRI report inside his shared notes. The patient pulls up the MRI report on his mobile phone and shows it to his doctor. The rheumatologist reviews the findings to get a clearer understanding of his patient’s condition, before making a clinical decision. Without Plato’s shared notes, the rheumatologist might request for, then wait, before reviewing the MRI report from the patient’s previous provider. This could take days, or even weeks, and delay care. With shared notes, the patient avoids a redundant MRI test and receives more efficient care (Vreeland et al., 2016).
4) Combat Misinformation
Older adults are some of the largest consumers of healthcare and commonly get their health data online. Unfortunately, they are also the most likely to believe and share medical misinformation (Brashier & Schacter, 2020; Ohlheiser, 2020; Turner et al., 2018). When patients use unproven interventions in their care, it affects their treatment progress and outcome. Help vulnerable patients avoid dubious online sources by giving them dependable data from the start. Meet your patients’ information needs by sharing reliable notes, and invite them to confirm third-party medical information with you in visits.
Still Concerned about Sharing Notes?
You don’t need to share everything with your patients. Studies have shown that patients enjoy a 60% to 70% increase in adherence when they read summary notes on their diagnosis and care plan.
ReferencesBell, S. K., Folcarelli, P., Fossa, A., Gerard, M., Harper, M., Leveille, S., Moore, C., Sands, K. E., Sarnoff Lee, B., Walker, J., & Bourgeois, F. (2018). Tackling Ambulatory Safety Risks Through Patient Engagement. Journal of Patient Safety. Published. https://doi.org/10.1097/pts.0000000000000494