A journalist who had unearthed one of my blogs written three years ago recently contacted me. In that post I explored how patients and doctors could benefit from recording appointments. So, what prompted the journalist to reach out? She had discovered an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association about the ethical implications of patients, who unbeknownst to their doctors were recording their conversations. She was interested in digging deeper – as to why patients would choose to be secretive.
I chose not to speak to the surreptitiousness of recording appointments, which we all know is unethical and breeds mistrust – but to focus on the benefits of using a recording device as a means of helping patients and families review the consultation with the intent of better understanding critical information. We all know – and it is a scientific fact- how difficult it is to process and retain medical information, especially in a heightened emotional state. I explained to the journalist that the recording allows patients (and family caregivers) to play back the conversation and identify their questions and concerns in preparation for following up with their doctors. With the increasing demands on healthcare providers, recording can help patients communicate exactly what they do and do not understand, which could both improve quality of care and save time.
I also noted in my blog that recording was considered a radical suggestion and it continues to be controversial. Just last week an article appeared in the Washington Post about how often doctors’ first reaction to recording appointments is based upon a fear that it could be used against them. Yet, Dr. Glyn Elwin, a physician and scientist at Dartmouth Center for Healthcare Delivery, tells us, “Doctors who agree to go on the record can boost their patients’ trust and strengthen their relationship.”
Perhaps, this is an opportunity to re-visit my blog and some of the comments. I did. The comments included a plea from a clinician to clinicians to please ‘bridge the gap’ by inviting patients to record the consultation. Why Every Patient Should Be Recording Appointment
Maybe it’s an idea whose time has come?