UCLA Health CIO Michael Pfeffer: Physician buy-in critical for adoption of OpenNotes

Part 2 in 2-part series on the impact of opening doc notes to patients

While the OpenNotes project is about giving patients greater insight into their care, it has to be a physician-driven project, says Michael Pfeffer, CIO at UCLA Health.

"It cannot be an IT project; it really needs clinician leadership," he tells FierceHealthIT.

Fortunatley for the Los Angeles-based organization, it has very engaged physician leadership driving the project when it was implemented last summer, Pfeffer says.

So far the pilot at UCLA has been seen in a positive light, according to Pfeffer.

"We don't know for sure that there's truly any outcomes yet from doing something like this, such as improving medication compliance. What we do know is that patients who have access to their notes find it very important to the point where they would seek out physicians in the future that only have that kind of technology present," he says.

In addition, Pfeffer calls the initiative very important for encouraging collaboration in care among patients, physicians and other clinicians as part of the medical home.

To kick off the program, he says IT personnel partnered with an energetic group of primary care physicians who were willing to take on the pilot.

The notes can be visible to patients in the health system's patient portal, myUCLAhealth, almost immediately after they are seen in the clinic, he adds.

The pilot started with about 30 physicians and all of their patients, a number in the low thousands.

Acceptance from those physicians hs been positive, Pfeffer says.

However, it has made the physicians more aware of what they put in their notes, he adds. They don't want to hide anything, but there is a change in the language they use to make it more patient-friendly. That's a "significant change" for the doctors, according to Pfeffer.