Driving Patient Engagement with the Universal Health Information Network (UNHIN)

Patient engagement is a crucial element in population health management and involves encouraging patients to take an active role in improving their health. In order to better engage patients, not only do providers need to administer care during patient visits, but also in between (IHTT, 2012). Collaboration with patients motivates them to better take care of themselves and helps them to understand their care plans. Yet, in order to change patient behavior about their health, it is imperative that the provider-patient relationship is well maintained. In 2012 a new initiative called ‘The Open Notes initiative’ offered patients the opportunity to review the notes that their physician, nurse, or clinician have written about their visits. The initiative allows greater transparency between providers and patients, offering patients the opportunity to be more informed and engaged with their health.

The lack of patient-centric EHRs that allow patients to have ready access to their health information remains a significant impediment to patient engagement. Doctors already have significant overheads with regard to EHRs, to the extent that studies have indicated EHRs as one of the major factors for physician burnout. Facilitating more active patient engagement might add another burden for already stretched physicians.

The Universal Health Information Network (UNHIN) will have a transformational impact in this regard. It will provide patients complete access to their health information transparently and without any burden to physicians. It will empower patients to review their health records and participate in keeping them up to date and correct, providing much needed time back to physicians that they spend in deciphering and consolidating patient information from multiple resources. It will also reduce administrative and regulatory burden as the patient will share a joint responsibility to keep their health record up to date and correct, as opposed to putting this burden solely on physicians. Also, patients will get physician notes and inputs on their health records instantly and automatically without any additional work for physicians or healthcare administrators, truly engaging patients, while not adding, and in fact reducing administrative burden on healthcare professionals.

The UNHIN will thus provide the highest level of transparency healthcare has ever seen, while providing physicians more time for spending with their patients. Patients will feel more engaged and empowered than ever before and will be able to share and collaborate on their health information appropriately with their whole care team.

Studies show that patients who are actively engaged in their healthcare experience better health outcomes. Engaged patients are more likely to take preventative measures like having regular health checkups, screenings, and immunizations. They are also more likely to eat healthfully, exercise regularly, and avoid risky behaviors like smoking. The result is better health and fewer illnesses, and illnesses that are identified earlier and therefore easier to treat.


1. IHTT. (2012). Population health management: A roadmap for provider-based automation in a new era of healthcare. (IHTT Publication). New York, NY: Institute for Health Technology Transformation.

2. EHR interoperability, connectivity a big challenge around globe new study finds: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ehr-interoperability-connectivity-big-challenge-around-globe-new-study-finds

3. EHRs get most blame for epidemic of physician burnout: https://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/ehrs-get-most-blame-for-epidemic-of-physician-burnout

4. EHR use consuming physicians’ time for patients: https://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/ehr-use-consuming-physicians-time-for-patients

5. The Universal Health Information Network (UNHIN): https://unhin.org


  1. Kunal Khanna

    Thanks for sharing this Rose, this is very insightful. Opennotes has impacted 33.5M+ patients which is amazing. UNHIN has the potential to take it to the next level, as the medical records would be easily accessible and in a more organized way to the patients.

  2. Alexandra Chan Katz

    When patients fully understand and have more access to their information, patients have more involvement and accountability and desire to be involved in their care prognosis and outcomes . They take ownership !

  3. Peyman Younesi

    Yes patient ownership of their medical records not only increases transparency and reduces fraud but also helps the treating clinician to access a patients health history which is crucial to quality care!

    This is really something that needs to happen in order to balance “information inequality” between patient and doctor!

  4. Rose Rosenfeld Post author

    Thanks Dr. Younesi, I like the fraud component that you outline. Its a great point. With more transparency peer review between physicians will happen automatically and definitely reduce fraud.