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Reading Clinic Visit Notes Benefits Older Adults

Older adults with chronic conditions report reading notes helped them to remember their care plan, medications

THURSDAY, Aug. 26, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Older adults with chronic conditions benefit from reading clinical notes in patient portals, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Catherine M. DesRoches, Dr.P.H., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues surveyed patient portal users with multiple chronic conditions (≥65 years) who read at least one clinical note over 12 months. Participants had outpatient clinic visits at one of three U.S. health care systems.

The researchers found that the majority of respondents had read two or more clinical notes in the 12 months before the survey. Patients with more than two chronic conditions were more likely to report that reading their notes helped them remember their care plan, take their medications as prescribed, and understand and feel more in control of their medications compared with patients with fewer or no chronic conditions. Following reading notes, very few patients reported feeling worried or confused about their health or medications.

“Our findings suggest older patients with more complex care needs find their clinical notes to be an important resource as they manage their health,” DesRoches said in a statement. “Unfortunately, older patients are less likely be offered information about patient portals, and when offered, are less likely to register for and use them. Clinicians caring for elders should ensure older patients have access to appropriate information in a format that is most useable and useful for them.”

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