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Engaging Patients in Their Own Care at the Corner Pharmacy?


ately, we’ve been thinking about ways to enhance the patient’s interactivity and involvement in his or her own healthcare delivery. Our discussions have been stimulated by a variety of news items, conversations with students and colleagues, and our general interest in the growing area of patient-centered care. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has defined patient-centered care as helping people make informed healthcare decisions. PCORI indicates that patient-centered care also allows the patient’s voice to be heard in determining the value of available healthcare options ( Clearly, an obvious place where patients’ voices should be heard is in a shared decision-making process to select medication therapy. Are their voices heard during prescribing? Do patients even know that the healthcare system around them is actually changing to give them a louder voice? We do not know the definitive answers to these questions, but we have strong beliefs that we are on the lower end of the curve in terms of patients being engaged during prescribing and in patients’ general awareness of the patient-centered care movement.

OpenNotes The OpenNotes initiative is a recent project aimed at

increasing patient engagement by opening up physicians’ notes to their patients. The project was conducted in Boston, Seattle, and Danville, Pa., concluding in 2011; detailed news is available at opennotes. org/news.shtml. Patients who participated in the project had electronic access to their primary-care physician’s notes written following office visits, emails, and phone calls. Access was provided via a secure online portal. Patients received electronic notification each time their physician documented an encounter. Patients were also notified electronically prior to their next visit that they should review existing notes.



Brent I. Fox, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Bill G. Felkey, M.S.

Clinical-care documentation has become a cornerstone of some pharmacy management systems, containing subjective data that the patient reports, objective data like laboratory results, and the pharmacist’s assessment and plan for patients. How might patients use these data? Patients were encouraged to read their physician’s notes to better understand their care. At the conclusion of the project, patients commented that a major advantage of reading notes written about their visits was that it helped them to remember important points that they forgot after leaving the office. Interestingly, patient participation was not limited to young, tech-savvy individuals, as you might have anticipated. Patient enthusiasm was consistent continued on page 40