White Coat, Black Art·White Coat Black Art

Forget what the doctor said? This MD records visits so you can listen back

Studies show patients forget as much as 80 per cent of what the doctor tells them. One family doctor has a solution. Dr. James Ryan developed a platform that securely records office visits so patients and their family members can listen back to everything that happened after they leave the office.
Dr. James Ryan, looking at the interface for Small Brain Records, a platform he developed that allows patients to listen back to office visits, and add notes and questions to their chart.
Dr. James Ryan treats a patient while recording the appointment for review on his application called Small Brain Records

Studies have shown that patients forget between 40 and 80 per cent of what they hear from their doctor, immediately after the visit.  But there's a movement afoot ot address that.issue.

The Open Recordings Project at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice researches and promotes the use of recordings in clinical practice.

Dr. James Ryan, a family practice doctor in Ludington, MI, is part of the project.

He developed a platform called Small Brain Records (SMR) to record his appointments with patients. After the appointment is done patients and their caregivers can access the audio file and listen back to what was said during the appointment. They can also add notes and questions. 

Ryan says it's particularly helpful in his practice. He sees a lot of seniors in what he calls a "resort-ish community," in Ludington.

"We have a lot of older people who have family member who live elsewhere, so it allows a son or a daughter to log in, listen to the recording and add in notes.' Ryan tells. Dr. Brian Goldman, host of White Coat, Black Art. 

His patient, Barbara Lauderbaugh is among the 10 per cent of Dr. Ryan's patient's who log in frequently to check on medical records.

"It allows me to go into the text version where I have patient data and other notes that the doctor may have added, I can look at those and track my appointments, hospital procedures and tests that I may have," she says. "I can read those and make copies and that's a very convenient thing for me to do from the comfort of my home." 

Dr. Ryan says that the program gets a lot of use when patients face a health crisis and their family needs to check in more often.

He's also aware of the need to protect patient privacy, so the platform is a secure one.

"This is definitely something we've thought about on a regular basis. You don't want any bleed of somebody's audio from a hallway conversation. You have to take, I would say, necessary risks sometimes to make progress."

He says doctors, hospitals and patients need to work together to find a way to use technology so it serves everyone well —  and safely. 

"It can't be us physicians saying, 'Hey we've got it all figured out, patients — this is what you're going to deal with,' It's got to be that we have a shared need. How can we grow technology in that environment?"

Small Brain Recordings is only being used on a limited scale right now, but Ryan would like to see its use grow. 

He says he's not worried about recorded visits potentially being used against him in a malpractice suit.

In fact, he tells Dr. Goldman he listens back to recordings to improve his demeanour with patients.

"If I'm not practicing in a way that was benevolent as I could be, then I want to learn."