Union Open Notes Project
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 Union Community Health Center (UCHC) a grant to participate in this initiative.
UCHC is a federally qualified health center in the Bronx providing primary and preventive health care—including medical, dental, behavioral health, and physical and occupational therapy services—to approximately 30,000 patients across 7 sites, including 2 mobile health units. Under this grant, UCHC will continue to implement and improve the use of shared notes within its system and participate in a technical assistance and peer-learning network. It will conduct patient education, outreach, and navigation. It will also seek patient feedback to understand barriers to notes access and opportunities to improve usability.