Know Your Notes
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, NYSHealth issued a request for proposals, Spreading OpenNotes in New York State. Through this initiative, NYSHealth supported hospitals across the State in implementing OpenNotes at their facilities. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC) a grant to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, NFMMC built active partnerships among providers and patients by implementing OpenNotes in 12 of its departments (4 acute and behavioral inpatient units, 6 primary care centers, an outpatient mental health clinic, and an emergency department) to provide more than 13,000 patients with access to their clinic notes. This project was unique in that it implemented OpenNotes in a behavioral health service setting, serving a vulnerable population of primary care and outpatient mental health patients. NFMMC used a variety of approaches for sharing notes with patients, including tailoring its implementation to ensure that its most vulnerable patients, who may not have access to the internet, will have access through smartphones and OpenNotes kiosks. NFMMC shared lessons learned with hospitals, behavioral health organizations, primary care groups, physician residency programs, service agencies, and community-based organizations.