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Wisconsin patients to gain easy access to clinicians’ notes- Fort HealthCare's Open Notes initiative coming January 1, 2017

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) is pleased to announce that one million more Wisconsin patients will soon have ready access to the notes their providers write in their medical records. This work represents the local implementation of OpenNotes, a national movement advocating for enhanced communication between patients and providers through shared clinicians’ notes and fully transparent medical records.

“There are a number of Wisconsin health systems that have already launched OpenNotes, Agnesian Healthcare, Columbia St. Mary’s, as well as Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare and Mayo Clinic Health System-Eau Claire,” said Judy Nowicki, Quality Improvement Specialist, WCHQ. “As we work to expand OpenNotes to a million more patients, a unique coalition formed by the WCHQ will facilitate knowledge and experience sharing among provider organizations as we work collaboratively to support the promotion and implementation of OpenNotes in our state.”

Chris Queram, CEO WCHQ notes, “WCHQ’s support and advocacy on behalf of OpenNotes is consistent with our commitment to transparency and engaging patients and families in becoming active in managing their personal health and well-being”. WCHQ is happy to announce several health systems are moving forward with OpenNotes in 2016-2017: Aurora Health Care, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Fort HealthCare, Gundersen Health System, Marshfield Clinic, Mercy Health System, ProHealth Care, and UW Health.

“The strong support shown by WCHQ member organizations is consistent with Wisconsin’s reputation for being at the forefront of leading innovations designed to improve health and health care” says Queram. This work is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through a grant that focuses its efforts on supporting ideas and innovations that engage consumers and providers to enhance quality, advance access and promote best practices to help people achieve healthy lives.

Fort HealthCare’s Chief Medical Information Officer, Dr. Christopher Manakas states “Fort Healthcare has a state-of-the-art electronic health record and we are excited to further our efforts at making our My Compass patient portal a more robust resource for our community members. Giving patients and their representatives’ access to full clinical documentation is part of our strategy to continuously improve the patient experience.”

Results of a one-year OpenNotes study involving 105 primary care doctors and 20,000 of their patients at three sites – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania and Harborview Medical Center, a safety net hospital in Seattle – were strikingly positive In the findings published in 2012 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Patients reported feeling more in control of their care, having greater understanding of their medical conditions, and being more likely to take their medications as prescribed. And at the end of a year, 99 percent of patients asked for the practice to continue, while none of the doctors chose to withdraw.

Today, more than 10 million U.S. patients have access to their notes. While federal law (HIPAA) mandates a patient’s right to access their medical records, including clinician notes, obtaining copies of paper records can be time consuming and in some cases, involve costs for the patient. Electronic records provide free, easy access with the click of a button.

“We’re beginning to learn that in addition to enhanced communication and patient engagement, giving patients the ability to read their notes may help catch inaccuracies and errors, and they may have implications for improving safety of care,” said John Santa, MD, Director of Dissemination, OpenNotes. “We look forward to continued work with WCHQ and learning more about how patients in Wisconsin benefit from note sharing”.

About OpenNotes

OpenNotes is a national movement that invites patients, families and clinicians to come together and improve communication through shared clinicians’ notes and fully transparent medical records. The movement is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Cambia Health Foundation. Learn more at

About WCHQ

Founded in 2003, the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) is a voluntary, non-profit consortium of 38 organizations committed to using the public reporting of comparative measures of performance to catalyze improvements in the quality and affordability of healthcare in our state. To view our reports, or to find out more about WCHQ, please visit our website at

About Fort HealthCare

Fort HealthCare is an integrated hospital and health system that attracts patients from throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Fort Memorial Hospital is a modern, fully accredited, acute care facility with 72 licensed beds. More than 100 physicians are on staff. Fort Medical Group, a subsidiary of Fort HealthCare, currently employs more than 60 physicians, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers. Fort Medical Group clinics offering primary and specialty surgical care are located in Fort Atkinson, Cambridge, Johnson Creek, Jefferson, Lake Mills and Whitewater. Other services offered by Fort HealthCare include occupational medicine, rehabilitation and sports medicine, wound care, urgent care, a preferred provider network for employers known as FortCare and more. Fort HealthCare is a partner in the University of Wisconsin Cancer Center at Johnson Creek and in the Advanced Pain Management clinic in Fort Atkinson

Fort HealthCare is committed to improving the health and well-being of our communities, with a vision to be the healthiest community in Wisconsin. As the leading healthcare provider in the region, it is our goal to reach as many members of the community as possible with health and wellness messages, providing tools and resources to help individuals improve their health and quality of life, while collaborating with several partners to positively improve the population’s health overall on a long term basis.