Robert Unitan, MD, Highlights Patient Support for Open Medical Records

Patients in the United States in theory have had access to what their doctors write about them for years, thanks to the 1996 Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But formal records requests can take weeks to process and few patients take advantage of the option, according to a recent NPR story.

The story, “Open Medical Records Can Spur Frank Talk Between Doctors and Patients,” describes how a growing group of organizations have turned to technology, called open notes, to give patients more ownership of their medical records – and therefore their health. When doctors sign their notes using open notes, a copy is automatically visible to patients online. The NPR story quotes Robert Unitan, MD, a clinical informaticist and pulmonary critical care doctor with Northwest Permanente, who says that Kaiser Permanente Northwest started offering open notes in 2014 because it seemed like a competitive advantage.

“We had a lot of support from our patient advisory groups,” Dr. Unitan says. “They had been asking for this for quite a while. Their reaction was, ‘At last!’”

Read the full story on the NPR website.