A year ago, if a patient had pulled out her phone in Dr. John Durant's office and asked to record her appointment, Dr. Durant might have balked. "There's always the fear of being recorded," he says, citing the fear of saying the wrong thing on tape.
But day after day, Dr. Durant was seeing the same problems crop up in his family practice clinic in Dadeville, Alabama: A family member would call the office asking about their elderly relative's checkup, saying, he said something about needing to come back for more tests, but he couldn't remember what tests and when. Or, a mother would call to ask if her child was supposed to finish the entire course of antibiotics.
Sometimes, the calls he'd get a day or two after his visits were downright distressing, like when it was clear that, although Dr. Durant had tried his best to explain a condition in laymen's terms, it had not translated. Now the patient was in front of their computer, trying to Google their way to answers and getting a lot of misinformation instead. This is the last thing a physician wants.
And so, when Dr. Durant read about an app specifically built for recording and transcribing doctor's visits, he found himself letting go of any nervousness around patients recording him. Today, he encourages using the app in his clinic, and has seen benefits that go far beyond the potential uses he originally envisioned.
If you're on the fence about whether you should encourage audio recording in your exam rooms, Dr. Durant says you shouldn't be. Below are the five best changes he's seen in his practice since advocating for his patients to take control of their health by using Medcorder.
According to a 2016 article published in The American Journal of Medical Sciences, medication adherence rates are at an abysmal 50 percent. The study found that while many physicians assumed access (think high costs) were responsible for these low rates, it turns out that the problem is more complex. In fact, the paper cited communication as a critical barrier. If a patient doesn't understand why a medicine will help them, they're less likely to down that pill.
Medcorder's ability to let a patient record, transcribe and share doctor's visits means that a patient has a written account of exactly why and how they should take their medicine each day. Because they can share these transcriptions with family members and caregivers, prescription adherence can become a group effort, which may further help ensure the patient gets what they need.
The hardest part of Dr. Durant's job is delivering horrible news. "It's a very, very tense thing. The patient says, I want to get better, but 10 seconds later, it's how do I get better?" In the next few minutes, Dr. Durant will invariably barrage them with a ton of information: What's next, what specialist to see, what to expect, what potential outcomes look like, etc. The patient, at that moment, often feels completely overwhelmed, he says.
Before Dr. Durant dives into all that info, he now suggests they download Medcorder. "I tell them, 'you're going to get a lot of info. Here's this app you can use, your family is going to want to know a lot of this too, and they can use it, too.'" Downloading the app is one small thing his patient can do to feel in charge of this moment, says Dr. Durant, adding, "almost every single time I bring it up, they love it."
Medical research has shown that positive medical outcomes often correlate with strong family involvement. For example, a 2018 paper published in the Chest Journal, found that patients who underwent cardiothoracic surgery and had family members involved in a family support program were significantly less likely to be readmitted to the hospital.
But it's not just surgery where patients need their families. For better or worse, your family knows you best. "The family may observe something that only a family can see," like a subtle behavior change, says Dr. Durant, adding, "the most valuable information often comes from families."
Having shareable recordings and transcripts from appointments means that everyone in the family knows to be on the lookout for side effects from medicines or progressing symptoms. Dr. Durant also sees cases where sharing a transcript enables someone in the family with increased medical literacy—like a nurse or pharmacy tech—to help explain things other family members might not understand.
"There are always going to be questions," says Dr. Durant. Having your patients record appointments will not eliminate calls with follow-up questions. However, since recommending Medcorder to his patients, Dr. Durant has noticed the level of these follow-up calls has changed. Now, it’s less a matter of re-answering the same questions a few days later and more a matter of answering interesting, thoughtful follow-ups. It's clear his patients are better understanding their conversations and are therefore better equipped to think about their health future.
Many people cringe at the permanence of the taped record, says Dr. Durant, and, well, at first, he did too. However, recordings can be useful in proving all the things a doctor did right. And having a conversation about using Medcorder at the beginning of an appointment gets it out in the open—which is far better than a patient surreptitiously taping your discussion.
To learn more about how medcorder works in just 30 seconds, check out this quick explainer video below. Ready to install? Click here!
The global pandemic is showing just how crucial it is to have a way to safely and privately share health info.
Ten years ago, when Leila Chambers' sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, relaying accurate info to Chambers' parents, who didn't live nearby, was a challenge. So, more recently, when her sister got ovarian cancer, Chambers thought, there must be a better way to keep our family in the loop.
Here's a story from a Medcorder user about how Medcorder has helped them and their family through a challenging medical situation. Julie's story energizes us, and reminds us why helping patients record and share with family is so important.
Three years ago, my horse slipped mid-gallop. My last memory was the sound of my helmet cracking against asphalt, and then snippets from the emergency room. When I confided in my doctor that I had lingering memory troubles, he suggested a test to figure out exactly where things in my brain were going haywire.
Then I walked out of his office and promptly forgot what he'd suggested. The irony of having to call and ask for a reminder on the memory test was not lost on either of us.
Had I recorded our appointment, however, the follow-up call would have been unnecessary. I never even thought to ask if I could record, though. That's strange because, as a journalist, I record almost all of my conversations.