Most Patients Like Having Access to Dermatology Clinic Notes

Concerns were few and included not understanding notes or abbreviations

Most patients have favorable reactions to having access to dermatology clinic notes, according to a research letter published online March 8 in JAMA Dermatology.

Kevin Yang, from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues surveyed a convenience sample of 359 patients seen at two hospital-affiliated dermatology clinics on selected days between February and April 2022. As part of a quality improvement effort, the survey assessed dermatology patient experiences with viewing online medical records.

The researchers found 78.0 percent of respondents reported previously reading dermatology clinic notes through the Patient Gateway portal, with 90.4 percent feeling positively or very positively about being able to read the notes and no respondents reporting negative sentiment about having access to dermatology notes. Patient-cited benefits included helping them understand their condition better (70.0 percent) and fostering increased involvement in their care (64.3 percent). Fewer patients reported improved skin self-care (29.6 percent) as a result of access. Cited concerns included not understanding certain terminologies (10.4 percent) and uninterpretable abbreviations (9.6 percent). Other consequences of access included five patients reporting decreased trust of their dermatologist and 18 respondents reporting contacting their dermatologist with questions after reading their notes. Qualitative responses indicated appreciation for the convenience of accessing dermatology notes and having notes as references for clinic visits, with a preference for more detail than less detail.

“To optimize patient experiences, clear and unambiguous language should be used, without compromising clinical documentation,” the authors write.

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