by Ashley O’Brien
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – The recent OpenNotes roll out at Intermountain Healthcare was hands down the most impressive we’ve seen, due in large part to tremendous communications efforts developed by Communications Manager, Ashley O’Brien. We asked Ashley to share some insights on their success.
How did communications planning fit in with Intermountain Healthcare’s overall implementation strategy?
In planning for OpenNotes communications at Intermountain Healthcare, particularly tactics and messaging to our clinicians, we were very intentional in how we conveyed our rationale for joining the OpenNotes movement and how our providers and patients would be impacted.
We started early, issuing articles in internal newsletters and emails as well as securing presentations and demonstrations to medical leadership and hospital and clinic staff during their existing meetings. In all we spent up to a year engaging in physician outreach and education. Each of our regions and hospitals hosted meetings in which they included our OpenNotes discussions. Key to our success was time spent educating and gathering support from our physicians and physician leaders.
We then focused on patient-facing communications, informing them via our portal and with materials available in our facilities. Intermountain advocated the benefits of OpenNotes including enhancing information access, the patient experience, patient engagement and treatment adherence, patient-provider relationships, and even safety and quality by allowing patients to see and verify what clinicians wrote compared to what patients heard.
Throughout, we acknowledged clinicians’ concerns about transparency, such as raising unnecessary alarm to patients, and provided guidance around writing notes with readership in mind. Consistently throughout our messaging, we reassured that providing greater transparency was the right thing to do for our patients.
How was information shared with patients, clinicians, and support staff?
We highlighted the new OpenNotes capability in our patient portal as well as in informational brochures that are made available in our clinics and hospitals. Internally, we used our eNewsletter channels, emails, intranet, and meetings to communicate the change to our clinicians. We also emailed an instructional video for providers on how to create confidential notes when appropriate to avoid causing patients unnecessary concern or alarm.
How important was the communications planning for meeting patient and staff wants and needs?
Communications on making clinical notes available online to patients was critical to managing expectations, notifying of improved information access and capabilities, and enhancing the conversations between patients and their providers. Proactive communication strategies helped us get ahead of anticipated questions and prevent any confusion around the transition and purpose
How has the implementation gone so far?
At Intermountain, our OpenNotes implementation has been successful. OpenNotes within our My Health secure patient portal had 37,718 pageviews in September 2017, when it launched, and 47,879 pageviews in October 2017—an increase of more than 10,000 pageviews. Our portal currently has nearly 555,000 accounts.
Any lessons learned?
Our communications and planning teams deliberated over what to name these notes within the portal to avoid confusing our patients over the difference between OpenNotes and visit summaries, results, health summaries, documents, etc. We decided to name the section Clinical Notes based on some feedback from patients and clinicians around familiarity with the terminology, and to better distinguish Clinical Notes from other content. We also renamed our “Documents” folder “Patient Education,” to further differentiate the purpose and content of this section from the new Clinical Notes folder. Educating our providers and patients about the new section and what content is included here versus other sections has helped introduce OpenNotes to our organization.
Ashley O’Brien is the Communications Manager for Intermountain Medical Group. She is responsible for all communication and marketing of OpenNotes at Intermountain Healthcare.