Imagine you’re an older patient who has trouble remembering detailed bits of information. Maybe you have hearing loss. Or perhaps with a plethora of doctor’s appointments to attend, it’s challenging for you to recall everything your specialist says. In situations like these, wouldn’t it be nice to have a recording of your doctor’s appointment?That’s what Dr. James Ryan, a family practitioner in Ludington, Michigan, thinks. After obtaining consent from his patients, Ryan records their appointments and subsequently uploads them to a secure online platform, according to The New York Times. The patients and their family members can then listen in whenever they want. And he’s not the only one doing this.
Dr. Randall Porter, a neurosurgeon based in Phoenix, videotapes his patients’ appointments (with their approval) and uploads them to Medical Memory, a secure web platform he founded. The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice has started studying recording procedures. Through the Oliver Center for Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston started offering cancer patients recorders to use during appointments.
The results thus far have been positive. A review published in 2014 looked at 33 studies comparing recorded doctor’s appointments. The majority found that recording consultations helped patients better understand and recall the information their clinician gave them.
But it’s not just the physicians who have been initiating — and doing — the recording. It’s also the patients, and sometimes it’s not so openly acknowledged.
In a survey of 168 patients in the United Kingdom, 15 percent (or 19 respondents) indicated they had secretly recorded a clinical encounter.
Such a sly method wasn’t exactly smiled upon by the study researchers. And it could result in legal ramifications if done in America. In 11 states (California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington), laws require that all parties (the patient and the physician) consent to any recording that happens.
But in some cases, covertly recording could actually be helpful.
A few years ago, a Virginia man went in for a colonoscopy and inadvertently recorded the entire procedure on his smartphone. He later listened to the recording, only to find that the surgical team had hurled epithets at him while he was sedated. A jury subsequently ordered man’s anesthesiologist and her practice to pay the patient $500,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.
As technology becomes increasingly prevalent and healthcare searches for new ways to be patient-centric, perhaps recording will become the norm.