Improving Access to and Use of Patient Visit Notes
Empowering Health Care Consumers
April 26, 2023
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 Syracuse Community Health a grant to participate in this initiative.
Syracuse Community Health is a federally qualified health center in Syracuse that provides comprehensive primary care and dental care to approximately 68,000 patients annually across 6 clinics and 8 school-based health centers. Under this grant, Syracuse Community Health will continue to implement and improve the use of shared notes within its system, including its school-based health center, and participate in a technical assistance and peer-learning network. It will enhance the sharing and usability of notes through provider training and notes translation. It will also conduct patient education, outreach, and navigation and install kiosks for patients to access notes on-site. It will also seek patient feedback and upgrade its patient portal to facilitate easier note-sharing.