Here’s why you might want to use your phone at your doctor’s appointment

Here’s why you might want to use your phone at your doctor’s appointment

For many patients, especially those who have complicated care plans or diagnoses, visits to the doctor’s office can provide a wealth of sometimes overwhelming information. Even the instructions of a very clear, considerate doctor can start to grow muddy as soon as a patient walks out the physician’s door.

A small but growing trend in the medical field is recording those visits for later review, something made even easier by the recording abilities of a cell phone.

A 2014 review that focused on 33 quality studies of patients using audio-recorded clinic-visit information concluded that patients place a high value on these recordings, and the majority benefited from listening to them.

Approximately 72 percent of patients across the survey listened to their recordings afterward, 68 percent shared them with a caregiver and patients reported greater understanding and recall of medical information.

Dr. Mark Tatara, an Advocate Medical Group internal medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says he has had only a few patients record him during his career, but is in favor of the practice.

“At first I was a bit cautious, wondering what was the motivation for recording the visit,” he says. “It seemed like I might be putting myself in legal jeopardy having our conversation recorded.”

In several states – including Illinois – both parties must consent before they can be recorded, so both physicians and patients should know about the laws in their individual states. According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards do not apply to a patient-initiated recording retained by the patient.

The same article notes that liability insurers maintain that the presence of a recording can protect clinicians and that in the few health care organizations in the U.S. that offer patients recordings of office visits, both clinicians and patients report benefits.

Dr. Tatara says that once he realized the elderly patient was simply recording the interaction for themselves and their adult children for later review, he gladly cooperated, making sure to speak clearly and slowly for the recording.

He believes providers should welcome the opportunity for better retention and future clarification, as it reflected the desire of a patient to truly understand and improve their health condition.

Patients should be encouraged to record their visits, he says, so long as their physician is comfortable with it.

“Though we give a record of instructions in a printed visit summary to each patient with each visit, more gets said than gets written down,” Dr. Tatara says. “An audio recording can be valuable to patients and potentially caregivers at home.”

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About the Author

Nathan Lurz
Nathan Lurz

Nathan Lurz, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. He has nearly a decade of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and a lifetime of experience as an enthusiastic learner. On the side, he enjoys writing even more, tabletop games, reading, running and explaining that his dog is actually the cutest dog, not yours, sorry.