Patient Recordings at Heart of Emerging Technology

Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Published Online: Thursday, July 5th, 2018
I've been giving some thoughts to a discussion online, and from personal interactions with patients, regarding visits with their providers and care teams. The crux of the issue is whether it is appropriate for patients or caregivers to record their visits.
Now, maybe this sounds new to you, but it's been an ongoing discussion for some time. If you think about it, almost everyone now has a readily accessible recorder available: their smartphone. So, after the nurse takes your vitals, and asks some introductory questions, the patient or caregiver switches on the audio recording feature, and slides the device into their purse, pocket, or place it facedown on a chair to record the visit.
Now, the issue is whether this is appropriate or not. Patients are entitled to keep records of their appointments, but until there are open notes available for patients (which is another issue altogether), many are taking this head-on and just tracking the data shared during appointments themselves. In a way, they are now creating the black box of their health. Many providers have mixed feelings about this. Foremost, many fear that the act of being recorded may limit what they want to be stated on the record, which calls into question some form of accountability. On the other hand, many providers also seem to want to encourage this act as they see it as a useful means of facilitating clear communication with their patients.
So, what strikes me as exciting is that some companies are looking to stake a claim in this issue, such as Harper, an online service that enables patients to upload a visit recording (via their app) and have it transcribed. What is interesting about this platform, is that its analytics system can identify critical terms or phrases for the patient to look up. Take for instance, if the transcription included "...your blood pressure is high, and I feel you have hypertension and could use some treatment. I am going to prescribe you lisinopril..." the platform would highlight 'hypertension' and 'lisinopril' as terms that the patient can look up for further information. 

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