OpenNotes Lab to Explore AI’s Impact on Patient-Clinician Communications

Feb. 28, 2024
Advocating for effective and patient-centered deployment of artificial intelligence is one of the Lab’s primary objectives

OpenNotes has unveiled the OpenNotes Lab, the organization’s new effort to explore novel approaches to investigating and designing interventions across the realms of clinical documentation, medical records and patient safety and engagement, including new uses of artificial intelligence.

The 21st Century Cures Act requires healthcare providers to make clinical notes available to patients electronically and at no charge. Prior to the law’s enactment, OpenNotes helped lead a movement to demonstrate that patients, care partners and clinicians benefit from more transparent communication.

Based at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts, OpenNotes advocates for and researches the impact of transparent communication among patients, families, and clinicians.

The organization said the Lab’s initial primary questions are:
• How might health information technologies be used directly by patients to improve their ability to engage in care?
• As AI transforms interactions between clinicians and patients, how might we ensure it builds trust and understanding?
• How might AI support clinicians in service of patients?
• How might we ensure algorithms are trained and implemented in ways that respect the diverse needs and rights of the individual patients and clinicians they serve?

OpenNotes said the Lab’s announcement—made at ViVE, an event tailored for digital health decision-makers— underscored OpenNotes’ openness to collaborating with developers of health information technologies, in addition to reinforcing its commitments to existing partnerships with patient and clinician advocates, and health systems. The OpenNotes Lab will delve into the intersection of emerging technologies and patient-clinician relationships.

“Through the Lab we’ll work closely with the developers of clinical documentation technologies and investigate new avenues for translating our extensive experience into processes that help patients and clinicians alike,” said Catherine M. DesRoches, Dr.P.H., executive director of OpenNotes and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, in a statement.

“Addressing algorithmic bias and its implications in research and health equity is of paramount importance,” said John Halamka, M.D., president of the Mayo Clinic Platform and advisor to the OpenNotes Lab, in a statement. “In my 40-year healthcare IT career, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of open notes. OpenNotes’ wide experience and rigorous approach to inquiry will facilitate unique collaborations among patients, clinicians and technology partners in meaningful ways.”

“Fifteen years ago, when we began inviting patients to review clinical notes, we were seen as radicals,” said Tom Delbanco, M.D., co-founder of OpenNotes, in a statement. He is also the John F. Keane & Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Since then, we and many others have learned that the benefits for patients, families and clinicians far outweigh the risks. We need now to build transparency seamlessly into the fabric of care. Working with new technologies and partnerships will help us make that happen.”

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