In a step toward greater transparency in health care, two Rochester, New York, health systems are collaborating to implement OpenNotes throughout their community. Working together the University of Rochester (UR) Medicine and the Rochester Regional Health systems are offering hundreds of thousands of people in their city fast, secure online access to the office visit notes written by their healthcare providers.
The joint initiative that was stimulated by a grant, “Spreading OpenNotes in New York State,” from the New York State Health Foundation (NYS Health Foundation) has people throughout Rochester talking about OpenNotes. This dynamic duo of UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health has done an amazing job spreading the word about the availability of notes in press conferences and news interviews, where they have succinctly shared what open notes are, how to access them, and why notes are an important part of every patient’s medical record.
Beginning this month, UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health clinicians will be sharing a large number of office visit notes entered into their patients’ electronic medical records.
- UR Medicine will share ambulatory visit notes from nearly all of its more than 300 outpatient clinics and primary-care practices, including notes from adult and pediatric-patient visits.
- At Rochester Regional Health, the majority of visit notes will be shared by its primary care practices. Certain specialty practices will also share notes with their patients.
Following an appointment, patients receive an email letting them know that a note is available for viewing. To access the note, each patient must have an active MyChart or MyCare portal account. Currently, notes can only be viewed through web browsers. They are not yet available via mobile apps.
“True consumer empowerment begins when patients can actively participate in their own care, and that requires easy and complete access to their own visit notes. OpenNotes literally and figuratively puts patients and their providers on the same page to improve the care experience and outcomes,” said David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the NYS Health Foundation.
“Through this collaborative partnership, UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health are leading the way in making OpenNotes a standard of care in New York State.”
Each hospital system piloted note sharing in some practices in advance of moving community-wide. UR Medicine began a voluntary note-sharing pilot in January 2018 at most primary care and specialty practices. Starting in September 2018, Rochester Regional Health piloted note sharing at primary care practices and some specialty practices at Rochester General Hospital.
“UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health are working together to allow patients to engage in their health care in an open and positive way and to encourage dialogue in their care,” said Michael F. Rotondo, MD, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group. “UR Medicine is launching the sharing of visit notes because of its great potential to improve patient outcomes and to include patients as partners in their own medical care through enhanced communication and an even stronger provider-patient relationship. We greatly appreciate that our providers are participating in this effort.”
“Rochester Regional Health began the OpenNotes project two years ago as a way to enhance patient engagement, strengthen relationships with patients and enable patients to better understand their treatment goals—especially for patients with complex medical issues,” said Bridgette A. Wiefling, MD, senior vice president, Primary Care and Ambulatory Specialty Institute, Rochester Regional Health. “When patients are full partners in their care, everybody wins.”
The Rochester implementation of OpenNotes is being led by James Sutton, director of the office of community medicine at Rochester Regional Health, along with Lauren Bruckner, MD, Ph.D., medical director of patient engagement at UR Medicine. Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine were among 10 hospital systems in New York that received grant funding from NYS Health Foundation to support an OpenNotes implementation.
“We are excited about UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health teaming up to bring the OpenNotes movement to the Rochester region,” said John Santa, MD, MPH, director of dissemination at OpenNotes. “Rochester now will be the first to implement OpenNotes community-wide in the state of New York.”