Empowering Health Care Consumers
October 1, 2019
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.
By giving patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians, OpenNotes is an important step in achieving the goal of consumers being active participants in their own care. Since 2016, NYHealth has supported efforts to expand OpenNotes throughout the State, including at geographically dispersed hospital systems. Building upon this momentum, NYHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), Growing OpenNotes Across New York State, to support OpenNotes in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), multispecialty group practices, hospital-affiliated physician groups, independent physician practices, and other non-hospital health care settings. Through this RFP, NYHealth aims to spread OpenNotes to all settings in which patients receive care, especially in underserved communities. In 2019, NYHealth awarded Upstate Family Health Center (UFHC) a grant to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, UFHC implemented OpenNotes at its FQHC sites in variation locations throughout the Mohawk Valley region. UFHC expanded its patient portal capabilities to give patients access to their notes. It then engaged providers, other staff members, and patients on how to use the patient portal. UFHC worked with ScribeEMR, a virtual scribe service, to help providers create visit notes in a more consistent, timely manner and include information that is important to patients. Clinical notes were made available to patients through both the online patient portal and printed copies in various languages. UFHC dedicated a private space in lobby areas for printing or viewing notes and medication lists. As UFHC serves a significant refugee population, it also worked with multiple interpretation companies to translate notes into a patient’s preferred language, including Spanish, Bosnian, Burmese, Russian, and Somali.
See a full list of grantees working to grow OpenNotes in non-hospital settings across New York State.