Using a patient portal to give patients and their care partners electronic access to doctor's notes following office visits was shown to improve communication and increase patient confidence in managing their own care, according to a study published in June in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association.

Several Geisinger researchers and co-authors, along with Geisinger's patient portal, featured in the study led by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health researcher, Associate Professor Jennifer L. Wolff.

The researchers surveyed adult patients' and their care partners' opinions before and after 12-months' use of OpenNotes via the MyGeisinger portal.

They found that afterwards patients were more confident in their ability to manage their health, felt better prepared for doctors' office visits and reported understanding their care better than at baseline.

The study found that for some patients, the benefits of electronic access to doctors' notes can be increased by the active involvement of a care partner -- who were often more active in reviewing doctors' notes than the patients themselves. Care partners are usually but not always family members.

The study was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Geisinger participants included Jonathan D. Darer, Andrea Berger, Deserae Clarke, Jamie A. Green and Rebecca A. Stametz.

Lead author Jennifer L. Wolff can be reached at jwolff@jhsph.edu. Contact details for Geisinger researchers: