Bringing Open Notes to New York State
Empowering Health Care Consumers
October 9, 2017
True consumer empowerment begins when patients have access to the information they need to talk to their health care providers, share information, and develop a trusted relationship.
OpenNotes is a national movement that spurs real patient engagement by giving patients and their caregivers access to the clinical notes written by health care providers. When patients have such access, they can develop stronger relationships with their providers; initiate conversations about or co-develop their care plan; develop a sense of ownership over their health information and treatment decisions; better remember what was discussed during a visit; become patient-safety partners by identifying errors in their records; and take medications as prescribed. To foster the spread of OpenNotes to more New York State hospitals and patients, NYHealth issued a request for proposals, Spreading OpenNotes in New York State. Through this initiative, NYHealth is supporting hospitals across the State in implementing OpenNotes at their facilities. In 2017, NYHealth awarded Health Research Inc., on behalf of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), a grant to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, RPCI implemented OpenNotes to increase patient access to clinical notes and inpatient discharge summaries. RPCI is the only comprehensive cancer center in upstate New York, serving approximately 34,000 patients and comprising the main hospital, two satellite offices, and five community cancer practices. It is also affiliated with SUNY Buffalo Graduate School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. RPCI implemented OpenNotes beginning with its gastrointestinal and leukemia centers. It enhanced the functionality of the clinical notes by allowing patients to highlight sections of the note where they have questions, save sections to discuss during a follow-up visit, and access a glossary of medical terminology to facilitate comprehension. RPCI also conducted note-writing workshops for clinicians to boost their engagement and help them optimize their note-writing skills. Results from this project were published in an oncology journal detailing lessons learned from implementing OpenNotes with oncology providers and patients.