OpenNotes is a national effort designed to give patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians.

Deeper dive
The idea of OpenNotes is to make sure that everyone involved in the medical encounter — including the patient — has access to the same information either electronically or via print out. Results show that patients are more compliant with medication and feel more in control of their care. OpenNotes helps patients better remember what is discussed during clinical visits and share notes with their caregivers. This helps caregivers stay more up to date with care and enact recommended treatment plans.

As of April 5, 2021, the federal rule on Interoperability, Information Blocking, and ONC Health IT Certification—which implemented the 21st Century Cures Act—went into effect. Known as the “Cures Rule,” this national policy requires healthcare providers give patients access to all of the health information in their electronic medical records “without delay” and without charge.

The program started in 2010, when 100 primary care doctors from medical institutions across the United States began sharing notes online with their patients. Each site was part of a 12-month study to explore how sharing doctors’ notes may affect health care. The evidence from this study suggests that opening up visit notes to patients may make care more efficient, improve communication and, most importantly, may help patients become more compliant with treatment plans. Physicians and other clinicians find that OpenNotes enhances patient communication and education, better prepares patients for visits and helps them stay healthier or better manage their chronic conditions.