WellStar Brings Transparency to Patient Records

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Friday, December 18th, 2015

WellStar Health System is deploying an innovative solution to improve the patient experience while providing better patient care. WellStar's electronic medical record patient portal, WellStar MyChart, will provide patients with round-the-clock access to their providers' notes in addition to instructions, next steps, medication lists and test results from outpatient medical visits. WellStar is the first Georgia-based health system to offer this service to its patients.

Evidence has shown that patients who become part of the care team are more actively involved in their healthcare and experience better outcomes with lower costs. When a patient is sick, tired or stressed during a doctor's visit, they or their caregivers may forget what the doctor said or prescribed. WellStar MyChart takes away the need to remember every detail by allowing the patient the ability to review this important information on their own schedule.

"By implementing 'Open Notes' in our WellStar MyChart patient portal, we are creating a more transparent and collaborative atmosphere for patients to easily understand and access their health information," said Jon Morris, M.D., chief information officer for WellStar Health System. "This strengthens the relationship between our providers and their patients and caregivers, resulting in better care. We believe it is critical that we expand our care teams to include the patient and others; we know this will help patients manage their care more effectively, better understand any medical problems and engage more effectively with their care providers."

A national study in 2010 funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy organization devoted exclusively to health and healthcare, tested the open medical notes concept with 105 primary care physicians and more than 13,000 patients during a year-long voluntary program. Patients consistently reported:

  • Having better recall after visits

  • Feeling more in control of their care

  • Better communication and collaboration with their doctor

  • Feeling better educated

  • Taking medications more effectively

  • Preventing important mistakes

  • Sharing their notes with family, friends and health professionals

"When this study began, it was a fascinating idea in theory," says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Now it has been tested and proven. The evidence is in: Patients support, use and benefit from open medical notes. These results are exciting – and hold tremendous promise for transforming patient care."