Patients have a right to access their own personal healthcare information, and transparency supports Northwestern Medicine’s Patient First mission. The 21st Century Cures Act affirms this right and promotes further transparency by requiring healthcare providers to limit barriers to access this information electronically.
NM has implemented mandatory changes designed to improve patient access to their personal healthcare data in order to make informed decisions about their care. This includes releasing clinical notes and adjusting the release times of lab and imaging exams.
The Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require primary care and post-acute providers to receive an automatic notification in Epic of their patients' admission, discharge and transfer events. Read the rule here.
Information Blocking Information blocking is defined as the practice that is likely to interfere with, prevent, or materially discourage access, exchange or use of EHI unless it is required by law; or an exception applies (source: hhs.gov).
Information blocking may be implicated when a provider refuses, ignores, delays or imposes unreasonable burdens on requests to access EHI.
Evaluation of whether a practice implicates information blocking will be subject to a facts and circumstances analysis.
Enforcement has not yet been established
Why are we sharing notes?
Patients want them. As experience spreads, a clear majority of patients want ready access to their notes, and they have the legal right to such access. In an OpenNotes study, virtually all patients wanted their notes to be readily available. Even if patients don’t understand everything in the notes, they strongly indicate that this type of transparency and partnership is valuable to them. A great majority of patients said that the availability of open notes would influence their future choices of doctors and health plans.
To engage patients. In some cases, research has shown that not many patients read their notes, but in others, they do. When patients have the ability to read their notes, they are more likely to actively engage with their providers about their care and health status.
To promote patient safety. Patients may more readily errors in their notes. Correcting inaccuracies helps make the record more accurate and can improve patient safety.
To help caregivers optimize care. Many patients, including chronically ill or elderly patients, rely on family members or other care partners to coordinate appointments, tests, medications, and general care plans. Data suggest that care partners benefit from note sharing as much as the patients themselves.