Can Recording Patient Appointments Improve the Quality of Care?

Recording Patient AppointmentsWith the availability of smartphones and other advanced recording solutions, recording conversations and sharing them is quite easy. What about recording a patient-doctor conversation? How can it help patients and their treating physicians? Patients, especially elderly patients, may not recall everything the physician says during the consultation. With the health conditions they face, patients are at risk of forgetting even important medical information. While patients started recording their medical visits long back to counter these issues, doctors have also started recording appointments with their patients, after obtaining consent from them. By outsourcing medical transcription, physicians get these recordings documented accurately.

Patients often use a digital audio recorder or their smartphone to record consultation details. A report in CBS News says that at least 1 in 10 U.S. patients now records discussions at medical appointments.

Check out this example that clearly reveals the advantage patients gain with such recordings.

The New York Times recently reported the instance of a family practitioner in Ludington, Mich. who routinely records appointments with his patients’ approval and then uploads the audio to a secure web platform so that patients can listen whenever they need to recall their discussions. They can also choose to give family members access to the recordings.

The news item also discussed the benefits a 63-year-old patient whom this doctor treats, gets with those audio uploads. This patient has a host of medical problems such as gout, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, anxiety and depression. Her memory is also affected with extended round of hospitalizations and operations, which makes it difficult for her to remember what was discussed during her appointments with the doctor. She turns to the recording for clarification.

According to the doctor, “At some point, it will become a normal thing, recording these encounters.” This alternative is helpful, especially for older patients, who are struggling with several health conditions.

Patient AppointmentsAccording to a recent study published in JAMA Network that reviewed 33 studies of patient use of audio-recorded clinic-visit information, audio recordings are highly valued. While 72% of patients listened to their recordings, 68% shared them with a caregiver, and individuals receiving recordings reported greater understanding and recalling of medical information.

However, obtaining consent from both physician and patient in states including Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Pennsylvania is a concern. But in 39 states and the District of Columbia, the law requires just one party’s consent. Only in these states patients can legally record an office visit without their doctor’s consent and vice versa.

When it comes to the legal side, physicians are a bit worried about the usage of these recordings. There are several cases where such recordings are submitted as evidences in court.

There are also hospitals like the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix that prefer videos to record appointments. With the patient’s permission, the neurosurgeon here records the session on an iPad, then offers the video to patients to watch later on a web platform. A study has proven that more than half the patients have watched their videos more than once.

Such recordings are likely to increase among healthcare providers, and doctors and other healthcare professionals making tape recordings can rely on medical transcription services to transcribe the appointment details.

Julie Clements

About Julie Clements

Joined the MOS team in March of 2008. Julie Clements has background in the healthcare staffing arena; as well as 6 years as Director of Sales and Marketing at a 4 star resort. Julie was instrumental in the creation of the medical record review division (and new web site); and has especially grown this division along with data conversion of all kinds.