Patient Care

Area Residents to Get Online Access to Health-Care Providers’ Visit Notes

Jan. 10, 2019
UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health collaborating to bring note-sharing movement to the region

Hundreds of thousands of area residents will soon have fast, secure online access to the office-visit notes written by their health-care providers, through a collaborative initiative between UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health.

Both health systems will share visit notes with their patients, bringing the national OpenNotes movement to the region. Research shows that patients achieve better health outcomes when they have access to visit-note sharing by helping them recall the details of individual visits, sharing notes with caregivers that could not attend an appointment, and gaining an overall better understanding of their health and medical conditions.

Beginning in January, Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine clinicians will be sharing certain office-visit notes entered into their patients’ electronic medical records.

  • UR Medicine will share ambulatory visit notes from nearly all of its more than 300 outpatient clinics and primary-care practices, including notes from adult- and pediatric-patient visits.
  • At Rochester Regional Health, the majority of visit notes will be shared by its primary care practices. Certain specialty practices will also have note-sharing capabilities. 
  • Both institutions will continue to grant individual patient requests for their medical records, including visit notes.

Following an appointment, a patient will receive an email letting them know that a note is available for viewing. Patients must have an electronic medical record account at either health system, as well as an active MyChart or MyCare patient portal account in order to view their notes. Currently, notes can only be viewed from a web browser, and not the mobile apps. 

“UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health are working together to allow patients to engage in their health care in an open and positive way and to encourage dialogue in their care,” said Michael F. Rotondo, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group. “UR Medicine is launching the sharing of visit notes because of its great potential to improve patient outcomes and to include patients as partners in their own medical care, through enhanced communication and an even stronger provider-patient relationship. We greatly appreciate that our providers are participating in this effort.”

“Rochester Regional Health began the OpenNotes project two years ago as a way to enhance patient engagement, strengthen relationships with patients and enable patients to better understand their treatment goals—especially for patients with complex medical issues,” said Bridgette A. Wiefling, M.D., senior vice president, Primary Care and Ambulatory Specialty Institute, Rochester Regional Health. ”When patients are full partners in their care, everybody wins.”

“We are excited about UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health teaming up to bring the OpenNotes movement to the Rochester region,” said John Santa, M.D., MPH, director of dissemination at OpenNotes. “Rochester now will be the first to implement OpenNotes community wide in New York state.”

Each hospital system has been piloting note sharing in some practices in advance of moving community wide. UR Medicine began a voluntary note-sharing pilot in January 2018 at most primary-care and specialty practices. Rochester Regional Health has piloted note sharing at primary-care practices and some specialty practices at Rochester General Hospital since September 2018.

"True consumer empowerment begins when patients can actively participate in their own care, and that requires easy and complete access to their own visit notes. OpenNotes literally and figuratively puts patients and their providers on the same page to improve the care experience and outcomes,” said David Sandman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation. “Through this collaborative partnership, UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health are leading the way in making OpenNotes a standard of care in New York state.”

Local implementation of the OpenNotes movement is led by James Sutton, director of the office of community medicine at Rochester Regional Health, and Lauren Bruckner, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of patient engagement at UR Medicine. Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine were among 10 hospital systems in New York that received grant funding from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) to support an OpenNotes implementation. Currently, through the OpenNotes movement, more than 33 million U.S. patients at more than 180 health systems have access to their visit notes.