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 The Door – A Center of Alternatives a grant to participate in this initiative.
The Door’s Adolescent Health Center is a federally qualified health center in New York City that provides comprehensive health care, health education, and wraparound youth development services to approximately 3,000 patients annually. Under this grant, The Door will continue to implement and improve the use of shared notes within its system and participate in a technical assistance and peer-learning network. The Door will enhance the sharing and usability of notes through provider trainings on writing patient-friendly notes, adolescent confidentiality, and best practices in capturing coordinated care. It will also conduct targeted patient education, outreach, and navigation in collaboration with its peer educators, as well as seek patient feedback on these engagement and provider training efforts to inform its approach.