Shared visit notes, often referred to as open notes, are an important way to help consumers become active participants in their own care.
When patients have access to their own visit notes written by health care providers, they better remember and act on information discussed during visits, improve communication with their health care team, and better manage their health. The 21st Century Cures Act, a recent federal mandate, requires health care providers to make clinical notes available to patients electronically and at no charge. However, the level of compliance and, most importantly, the proactive use of open notes to improve care vary among health systems. In 2022, NYHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), “From Good to Great: Improving Access to and Use of Patient Visit Notes in Non-Hospital Systems,” to support non-hospital systems across New York State in sharing open notes in compliance with recent federal rules and using open notes to more meaningfully engage patients. In 2023, NYHealth awarded Jericho Road Community Health Center a grant to participate in this initiative.
Jericho is a federally qualified health center in Buffalo that provides comprehensive primary care, specialty care, and health-related support services to approximately 24,000 patients annually across 5 primary care clinics, a safety-net dental clinic, and a pharmacy. Under this grant, Jericho will continue to implement and improve the use of shared notes within its system and participate in a technical assistance and peer-learning network. With a focus on improving note-sharing with its patient population, including refugees, it will engage community health workers to lead patient education, outreach, and navigation efforts and install kiosks for patients to access notes on-site. Jericho will also upgrade its patient portal and website to facilitate easier note-sharing.