Empowering Health Care Consumers


November 1, 2021

Priority Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers



Through its Empowering Health Care Consumers priority area, NYSHealth promotes greater information transparency and engages with patients as partners, which provides the framework for this Request for Proposals (RFP).

Shared visit notes, often referred to as open notes, are an important way to help consumers become active participants in their own care. Established in 2010, OpenNotes is a national effort to give patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians. When patients have access to their own visit notes written by health care providers, they better remember what was discussed during the visit; feel more in control of their care; are more likely to take medications as prescribed; and can share notes with their caregivers.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which went into effect this year, is a federal mandate that requires health care providers that maintain electronic medical records to make clinical notes and other health care information available to patients. It mandates that patients will be able to access their clinical notes quickly and conveniently in electronic formats and at no charge. However, the level of compliance and, most importantly, the proactive use of open notes to improve care varies among hospitals and health systems.

This RFP is open to any hospital facility in New York State that is implementing and sharing open notes in compliance with new federal rules and is seeking to go beyond compliance and use open notes to spark a culture change that more meaningfully engages patients. Through this RFP, NYSHealth—in partnership with the OpenNotes national program office—will provide hospitals throughout New York State with funding, tools, and technical assistance to implement and share open notes effectively.

The Foundation will award grants of $30,000 to hospitals in New York State to supplement the costs associated with implementing and sharing open notes, including—but not limited to—staff support, training, education, electronic health record configuration, and/or patient marketing and engagement. Both hospital facilities that are in the initial phases of implementing open notes and those that are seeking to optimize their early implementation to make sure it works well for clinicians and patients are eligible and encouraged to apply.

Hospitals selected for funding will also participate in a 12-month OpenNotes technical assistance and learning network program. This program will allow hospitals to learn from experts and each other, and it will focus on strategies to ensure that (1) providers are equipped with the tools to make note-sharing easy and useful; and (2) patients know how to access and use their visit notes productively.

Learn more about previous NYSHealth efforts to help hospital systems, federally qualified health centers, and other non-hospital settings successfully implement open notes.

Please find the detailed “From Good to Great: Improving Access to and Use of Patient Visit Notes” RFP here.

How to apply:

Applicants must complete and submit an online application. For detailed guidelines, please review the online application instructions. The deadline to submit an application has been extended to Friday, December 17, 2021, at 1 p.m. All applicants will be notified about the outcome of their applications by early 2022.

Programmatic questions about this funding opportunity should be e-mailed to OpenNotesRFP@NYSHealth.org.

Technical questions regarding the online application system should be e-mailed to Grants Assistant Keenen Willis at Willis@NYSHealth.org.

On November 16th, NYSHealth, OpeNotes, and other partners hosted a webinar featuring leading New York State health systems and patients who have successfully adopted and used open notes.

The online discussion highlighted lessons learned from organizations implementing open notes prior to the new federal mandate. Panelists also shared best practices and strategies for engaging patients and making note-sharing easier and more productive, including with non-English speakers, as well as sharing notes in the context of adolescent, pediatric, inpatient, and behavioral health settings. The “From Good to Great: Improving Patients’ Access to and Use of Visit Notes” RFP was highlighted. Watch a recording of the webinar and see related resources.