Bedside Notes

To improve parent understanding, a growing number of hospitals, including our American Family Children’s Hospital, use inpatient portals – web-based applications provided on hospital tablet computers that give parents’ access to real-time clinical information during their child’s hospital stay.

While these portals could provide parents with access to doctors’ daily notes, which detail their child’s diagnoses, treatment and contingency plans, the vast majority of hospitals, have yet to enable this capability. Ambulatory studies suggest adult outpatients reading notes had improved understanding of their care and identified safety concerns, with 57% resulting in changes in care.

While preliminary data show parents want access to inpatient doctors’ notes, knowledge gaps exist regarding the benefits, risks, and strategies to most effectively share notes to improve their understanding of their child’s care plan. As hospitals gain the technical capability to share doctors’ notes, there is a critical need to identify ways to share notes to support parents during their child’s hospitalization. Without this knowledge, sharing notes will not be beneficial and risks increasing parent anxiety, clinician work and other negative consequences.

Michelle Kelly, MD
Assistant Professor
School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Peter Hoonakker, PhD
Research Scientist, Associate Director of Research
Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anne Thurber
Research Specialist
School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Kelly, M.M., Thurber, A.S., Coller, R.J., Khan, A., Dean, S.M., Smith, W., Hoonakker, P.L.T. (2019). Parent Perceptions of Real-time Access to Their Hospitalized Child’s Medical Records Using an Inpatient Portal: A Qualitative Study. Hospital Pediatrics, 9(4): 273-280. PMC6435002

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