Sharing notes with our patients: Ethical considerations



The move to widespread shared notes, though prompted by a federal mandate, is a critical step forward in patient activation, engagement, and satisfaction. Importantly, there is a large body of evidence showing multiple benefits, including better communication and safer and more equitable care at sites that have already been sharing notes for over a decade. When surveyed, both patients and providers who have been participating in shared notes believe the practice should continue.

In April 2021, we began a massive natural experiment in the U.S. with ubiquitous sharing of clinical notes, one that will help us learn more about how best to make our patients’ health information accessible, meaningful, and most meaningful in improving their overall health and well-being. Sharing notes with our patients is at once relatively easy to implement but complex in its implications and represents a significant paradigm shift in medicine toward a safer, more patient-centered approach. The evidence to date has shown that embracing shared notes promotes greater patient activation and engagement, and with it a more transparent and collaborative relationship between providers and patients that could lead to transformative benefits to the quality of the care we can achieve together.

Dr. Shah is an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics and associate chief medical information officer at University of Chicago Medicine. He has no disclosures


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