Outpatient psychiatric documentation use by primary care physicians following de-sensitization in the electronic medical record

Emilie Bhe, Scott Summers, Adnan Murat Pakyurek, Matthew F Soulier, Jessica A Ferranti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The authors assessed the ways in which primary care physicians (PCPs) utilize outpatient psychiatric documentation that has recently become accessible to non-psychiatric providers in the UC Davis Healthcare System electronic medical record (EMR). Methods: The authors distributed a nine-question paper survey to 71 PCPs on the UC Davis Medical Center Campus in Sacramento, California. Questions addressed awareness of changes in accessibility of psychiatric documentation, which parts of the psychiatric note were most useful, and ways in which reviewing psychiatric notes changed providers' practice and perception of patients with mental illness. Results: Survey return rate was 100 % due to in-person distribution and collection of survey. More than half (58 %) of respondents were unaware that they had access to psychiatric notes. Within the psychiatric note, providers focused most on plan, diagnosis, and assessment components. Those who were aware reported improved understanding (97 %) and comfort with discussing mental illness (79 %), increased consideration of side effects of psychiatric medications (79 %), and improved efficiency in encounters with psychiatric patients (97 %). Responses about likelihood to contact psychiatrists directly varied considerably. About 45 % of respondents were more likely to consider psychosomatic etiology for patients who were also seen by outpatient psychiatry. Conclusions: Overall, PCPs reported that accessibility of outpatient psychiatric notes significantly enhanced their experience of caring for patients with mental illness. Future goals include increasing awareness and education about availability of psychiatric notes as well as optimizing communication between psychiatrists and PCPs. The authors recommend future studies focused on changes in perceptions among providers as a result of continued use of psychiatric documentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-644
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Attitude of health personnel
  • Confidentiality
  • Electronic health records
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Education


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