The movement to share clinical notes with patients started several years ago—and now, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's (ONC's) Cures Act final rule has renewed the conversation.
Starting April 5, 2021, clinicians must not engage in "information blocking" of electronic health information, including clinical notes. To comply with the regulations, health care organizations are pushing these notes to the patient portal. But this can be a significant cultural change, as many clinicians worry about a loss of autonomy and negative impacts on patient-provider relationships.
Physician leaders are left to strike the balance between regulatory compliance and clinician concerns. This is a challenging position to be in, but—armed with the data and experience needed to address concerns about note sharing—physician leaders can navigate these difficult conversations as they arise.
Benefits of note sharing may outweigh concerns
While a 2018 study found that 74% of surveyed physicians think it's a good idea to share notes with patients to better engage them in their care, one of clinicians' greatest concerns about note sharing is that doing so will negatively impact their relationship with their patient.
This is a valid concern, but research indicates note sharing can create stronger relationships between clinicians and patients. For instance, a 2017 study found that of the more than 4,500 patients with access to their clinician's visit notes, 37% felt better about their doctor, and 62% felt the same about their doctor.
Overall, the data shows that note sharing can have a positive impact on patient-provider relationships and can improve patient engagement in their care.
3 tactics to secure clinician buy-in
While there's evidence to alleviate many clinicians' concerns, it can still be challenging to get clinicians on board. Releasing clinical notes changes how clinicians think about patient access to data, their interactions with patients, and their note-taking processes. Use these three tactics to address clinician concerns and increase buy-in:
- Dispel misconceptions about note sharing. Use data to show the positive impact of sharing clinical notes on patient-provider relationships and patient engagement. Even the most skeptical can be convinced by credible, data-backed evidence.
- Ignite change with a clinician champion. By spearheading change initiatives, clinician champions can serve as a trusted source of guidance for other colleagues hesitant about the change. They can answer fellow clinicians' questions and offer a sounding board for concerns.
- Prepare your clinicians for change. Raise awareness among your clinicians and communicate policy updates clearly and proactively. Use our ready-to-use slides to make sure they understand why compliance with the information blocking provision is important.
Winning clinician buy-in for sharing clinical notes with patients is essential to your information blocking compliance strategy. While the compliance date was extended to April 5, 2021, the delay will not dramatically change the trajectory of your efforts. Instead, it will give you more time to solidify your organizational approach and secure clinical buy-in. For more on how to comply with the ONC cures Act final rule, see our information blocking toolkit.