Patient Gateway Access to Dermatology Clinic Notes Viewed Positively by Patients


In a research letter, patient perspectives were explored regarding access to dermatology clinic notes, with more than half reporting improved understanding due to notes.

Most patients viewed having access to dermatology clinic notes favorably and 70% reported an improved understanding of their conditions and led to further involvement in their care, according to a new research letter.1

The letter’s investigators sought to assess the experiences of dermatology patients through the use of online medical records and worked to identify areas in need of improvement. The research was authored by Kevin Yang, BS, from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.

“These findings are important because engaged patients are more likely to adhere to treatment plans, resulting in better health outcomes,” Yang said. “Additionally, they shed light on patient perspectives toward medical record transparency following implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act, further enhancing the context provided by prior studies examining a home-grown medical record system.”

Background and Findings

For a 2-month span from February to April of 2022, the investigators conducted a voluntary survey of patients at 2 dermatology clinics affiliated with Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The investigators asked patients to provide demographic information and share their opinions on dermatology clinic note access and their use of the hospital system's electronic portal Patient Gateway (PG).

The team completed the surveys in the dermatology clinic waiting rooms. The Brigham and Women's Hospital’s institutional review board determined the study to be exempt from review as it was a quality-improvement project.

Overall, the investigators found that 359 patients responded to their survey, with 95.5% (343) having enrolled in PG. Viewing laboratory results and clinical notes (88.9% and 84.1%, respectively) were found to be the most common reasons for PG.

They noted that 90.4% of those who had read dermatology clinic notes on PG reported feeling either positively or very positively about it. The team added that none of the respondents to the surveys reported having negative sentiments about their access.

One of the main statistics noted by the investigators was that most reported that having access to dermatology clinic notes helped them to better understand their own condition (70.0%) and fostered more involvement in their care (64.3%).

The investigators also noted that 41.8% of respondents declared that their notes access enhanced ability to discuss dermatologic diagnoses with other healthcare professionals and 29.6% said that it led to improvements in their own skin self-care.

The primary concerns patients reported in their survey results were having limited understanding of some technologies and having abbreviations that were difficult to interpret.

The investigators added that only around 2% reported having less trust in their dermatologists after accessing the dermatology notes.

“Dermatology notes may be differentially accessed compared with other specialties, given typically quick clinical encounters, numerous diagnoses per visit, distinctive diagnostic terminology or jargon, and tendency for visits to include evaluation, management, and procedures happening concomitantly; such factors could drive more frequent dermatology documentation review,” they wrote.


  1. Yang K, Lau CB, Lau WC, Nambudiri VE, Watson AJ. Patient Perspectives on Clinic Note Transparency Within Dermatology. JAMA Dermatol. Published online March 08, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2023.0086.
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