Most likely to use it are those with family members in different parts of the country and even the world, Ryan says, such as retirees who give permission to their children to access their EHRs – to log in and listen to office visits. This can help children see what's going on with their parents; they then can enter comments into the EHR to communicate with him about their concerns.
Ryan also has found that some patients like to replay his words of comfort and advice about handling anxiety or depression.
"They'll listen to that and kind of use it as their own private personal motivation," he says.
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Benefits to physicians, Elwyn has found, include an enhanced relationship with patients, greater trust and loyalty by patients and knowing that your patients are understanding what you’ve told them.
The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has been offering free digital recording devices to oncology patients or encouraging them to use their smartphones since 2009. The benefits include “more patient-centered care with the potential for fewer errors, if the patient listens again,” as well as the ability for caregivers who aren’t present to hear instructions, says Meredith Masel, director of the Oliver Center for Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare, which runs the program.
The American Academy of Family Physicians hasn’t issued guidelines to members on this topic, says John Bender, MD, who serves on the board of directors. Bender, who is also a primary care physician at Miramont Family Medicine in Fort Collins, Colorado, says he hasn’t had a patient ask to record him yet.
But, says Bender, he can see how patients can benefit from recording physicians in certain situations, such as during a cancer diagnosis.
"Sometimes when people hear the word 'cancer,' they don't hear anything after that," Bender says.
If recorded content is used to help patients "get to a new position of wellness and patient engagement," says Bender, "by all means let's do this... It's not necessarily something to be feared."