News Feature | June 3, 2015

Are Your Patients Monitoring You?

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Ease Patient Sharing Information

A new trend is causing concern for providers – patients are recording their office visits.

Doctors monitoring patients is becoming more and more commonplace with every technological advancement. But what happens when patients start monitoring providers? It’s a new trend that has many doctors concerned.

According to iHealth Beat, patients are beginning to record their visits to the doctor with the noblest of goals, including the desire to better retain information about their conditions and relay information to caregivers. Unfortunately, recordings of visits are making many doctors uncomfortable and have them worried about the liabilities associated with having their every move documented.

“Doctors are very angry about this,” said Glyn Elwyn, a physician and scientist at the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science who has written about the issue, to the Washington Post. “Their first reaction — and it’s ill-considered — is to be defensive or worried that it could be used against them in some way.

“Humans are fallible, and it’s very difficult for doctors to stay on top of everything. That’s not argument for not doing it — it just means that doctors have to be on their game.”

Only twelve states have laws requiring patients to obtain permission from physicians before recording audio of them. However, patients in the rest of the U.S. are free to record physicians without their consent.

Also, providers worry these recordings could violate HIPAA regulations. Once that doctor patient interaction is recorded, there is no way to ensure that it remains private. “It’s a legitimate concern: What happens to the recording after the visit?” Elwyn says. “This is virgin territory.”

Most patients aren’t trying to find lawsuit material; they’re just concerned about their health. And while doctors shouldn’t panic just yet, they have reason to be concerned. “What’s lacking here is a policy that says we encourage you to record, but please take good care of this record — we don’t want it to appear on the Internet or social media,” Elwyn says.