Federal guidelines mandate that hospitals provide patients and caregivers with free, online access to their physician’s clinical notes. This study sought to identify parent perceptions of the benefits and challenges of real-time note access during their child’s hospitalization and strategies to optimize note-sharing at the bedside.
This qualitative study was conducted with parents of children aged <12 years admitted to a pediatric hospitalist service in April 2019. Parents were given access to their child’s admission and daily progress notes on a bedside tablet (iPad), and interviewed upon discharge. In-depth, 60-minute interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Two researchers developed and refined a codebook and coded data inductively and deductively with validation by a third researcher. Thematic analysis was used to identify emergent themes.
The 28 interviewed parents described 6 benefits of having note access, which: provided a recap and improved their knowledge about their child’s care plan, enhanced communication, facilitated empowerment, increased autonomy, and incited positive emotions. Potential challenges included that notes: caused confusion, hindered communication with the health care team, highlighted problems with note content, and could incite negative emotions. Parents recommended 4 strategies to support sharing: provide preemptive communication about expectations, optimize the note release process, consider parent-friendly note template modifications, and offer informational resources for parents.
Findings provide a framework for operationalizing note-sharing with parents during hospitalization. These results have important implications for hospitals working to comply with federal regulations and researchers assessing the effects of increased information transparency in the inpatient setting.