Rochester medical facilities add doctors’ notes to online patient records

Jan 10, 2019

Rochester Regional and UR Medicine will add more information to the medical records that patients can access online.

The health care systems will now include doctors’ notes in those records.

Andrea Strecker of Rochester Regional Health demonstrates how patients would find their doctors' notes in their online medical records.
Credit Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Patients have been able to see their doctors’ notes before now, but the process has been cumbersome, officials at UR and Rochester Regional said.

“Now, there’s a nice, simple portal,” said Michael Rotondo, CEO of the medical faculty group at the University of Rochester. “So you’re going to open your phone, you’ll open your MyChart application, be able to go through that portal, and get right to your notes.”

Rotondo said the hope is that patients will be able to look back at the notes to check on anything they don’t remember from their appointment. The aim is to help patients better manage their own health.

But there’s a worry among some doctors that these notes – which most patients have never seen before – will be confusing and will generate more questions than answers.

Bridgette Wiefling, a senior vice president at Rochester Regional Health, said a pilot program showed that doctors will need to find a balance between their own medical shorthand and descriptions that are useful for patients.

“We were worried,” Wiefling said. “Would it be too much of a burden on the primary care providers, or the specialty providers? And what we’ve learned is, it really hasn’t been at all.”

Officials from Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine gather at the Rochester Academy of Medicine to announce that doctors' notes will be included in patients' online medical records.
Credit Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Rotondo and Christopher Bell, executive director of the Monroe County Medical Society, said doctors are used to the idea that their records are legal documents and are subject to scrutiny by patients. Still, they said, doctors will need to get comfortable with the idea that their notes are now more easily accessible.

And then, Rotondo said, there are new considerations for patients who are deciding whether they want to view their doctor’s notes.

He said patients might ask themselves: “How much do I really want to know about my health care? Have I heard enough, and I just can’t take any more? Do I need to know more to feel a better sense of control?”

Rotondo and Wiefling said in their pilot programs, less than 10 percent of patients who could have looked at their doctors’ notes, did.