A New York Health Funder Gets Behind a Push to Empower Patients

photo:  Pressmaster/shutterstock

photo:  Pressmaster/shutterstock

The more empowered patients are when it comes to their medical care, the better outcomes we'll see in America's famously inefficient healthcare system. This is the animating belief behind a national movement called OpenNotes that’s trying to make it easier for patients and caregivers to access clinical notes written by healthcare providers.

As we've reported, the program was originally established at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2010 as a patient engagement effort, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

In 2015, other funders backed the OpenNotes movement, including the Commonwealth Fund, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Cambia Health Foundation. 

RelatedWhat Was It My Doctor Said? The Funders Behind the Movement for Open Notes

The initiative has also generated local interest, including from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), which got involved with OpenNotes as part of its Empowering Health Care Consumers priority grantmaking area. The funder recently chose seven hospitals to support in adopting or expanding the program in order to empower more New York patients. The new grants total $900,000.

According to a NYSHealth statement, “When patients have access to their own health information, they become equal partners with providers in managing their own care and are better able to develop stronger relationships with their health care team—all of which results in improved patient care and experience.”

Patients are expected to be active players in their own healthcare decisions but lack the information to do so. Efforts like this one are good examples of how health funders can empower health consumers in a practical way. NYSHealth is the first funder in the country to support OpenNotes on a state level.

David Sandman, Ph.D., president and CEO of NYSHealth, said, "While millions of Americans have access to their notes, the adoption of OpenNotes has been slow to take hold in New York State. Led by these innovative hospital systems, OpenNotes should become a standard of care across the State."

The new hospitals in New York receiving NYSHealth’s support for this purpose are the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Northwell Health, Rochester Regional Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, St. Barnabas Hospital, and University of Rochester Medical Center. Previously, grants were made in August 2016 and January 2017 to support OpenNotes adoption at health centers in New York City. The New York and Presbyterian Hospital and NYC Health + Hospitals received these prior grants.

In other news, NYSHealth’s David Sandman has been speaking out about DACA and how Dreamers in New York face uncertainty about their healthcare. Read more about his perspective in this recent HuffPost article. Maternal and child health, as well as healthcare for veterans, have also been top areas of interest for this funder lately. Open RFPs that are currently accepting grant applications can be viewed here.