Monday, December 05, 2011

How to remember your doctor's advice

The Exhibition Hall at the #IHI Annual National Forum is packed with dozens of exhibitors, and I was pleased when I happened upon the booth of the Cautious Patient Foundation.  I was even more pleased to find Fred Trotter and Betsy Kusin (seen here) there and to learn from them about the release of

This is a brand new service that allows people to use their cell phones to capture their doctors' advice, and then pick up that advice on their home computers.  It also permits a patient to share that oral record of advice with anyone of their choice -- a family member, a close friend, a personal health care aide.

Here's how it works.  You speed-dial a number from your cell phone before leaving the doctor's office.  You can either ask the doctor to speak into the phone while talking with you, or you can repeat what s/he said before you forget important details.  The system at YDA recognizes the phone number from which you are calling and stores the message in your secure location.  Then, when you go home, you can access your account on the YDA website.  You can listen -- and listen again as often as you want -- label it, store it for future use, or share it with people of your choice.

This service is being offered by a non-profit organization, and so its pricing is very low.  Individuals will be asked to pay $19.95 for the service; and hospitals, physician groups, and other providers are being offered the source code for free so they can set up the service for their patients.

Why is this useful and important?  We all know that doctors would like us to follow their advice, but very often patients cannot remember it once they leave the office.  YDA points out that studies have shown that patients only remember 30 to 70% of what their doctors have told them.  This service offers an easy and convenient way to overcome this problem.  Check out the website to learn more.


Pat Mastors said...

The Cautious Patient Foundation devotes its resources and enterprising minds in pursuit of this singular objective: "what would be good for patients?" Delighted, but not surprised it devised this important new empowerment tool for patients (and clinicians as well, who will also benefit). Thank you, Paul, for this post, and bringing broader attention to this innovative and eminently useful service.

e-Patient Dave said...

So this is, basically, a public tape recorder. It's terrific, because you don't NEED a tape recorder.

I love the idea, but time after time I've heard of docs who don't allow patients to record the session out of fear of litigation. (The fear is that something goes wrong, and they end up in court with the tape containing some phrase that a jury finds damning.)

Let's ask Fred - what's the workaround for this? Are docs just lightening up, or will there always be some % who feel that way, or what?

Jeff said...

As a cancer survivor - or should I say a cancer patient since we never really lose that description - I understand completely about forgetting the details in consults and followups with physicians.

But like Dave, I'm concerned that the docs themselves won't approve of the practice of recording in their offices. Although on the site it mentions how the patients listening skills improve when focusing on repeating the advice into a telephone recorder, I wonder how the docs will edit what they say and possibly speak more defensively rather than helpfully.

I've read of a similar service offered via CareCoach although they seem to have an additional motivation of farming information recorded for healthcare marketing.

I wonder if we can learn more how the medical industry is accepting this. But again, any way the advice and information from the physician can be carried away in a more memorable fashion would in the patient's best interest.

Thanks for the update!

- Jeff

ftrotter said...

Jeff and Dave,
Both of you have touch on a pretty subtle issue that we have a difficult time describing correctly.

Unlike CareCoach, our system has never been designed to record what the doctor has said. While the functionality is similar, our system is designed for patients to record what they doctor just told them. If you are familiar with the term: to record the "teach back" portion of the session.

So you are -not- recording your doctor at all, you are recording yourself!

Doctors responses to this will vary wildly. Some will ask to make the recordings themselves, rather than trusting the patients to get their advice right. Some doctors will insist that the recording not occur when they are in the room. We do not recommend either of these.

We believe that it is important for the doctor to hear that the patient understands what the doctor is saying, and we believe that the patient must "say it". This ensures that the doctor can correct any mistakes that the patient makes.

The right way to use Your Doctors Advice with a doctor who is truly uncomfortable with being recorded is to make the recording after leaving the exam room. The important thing is to make the recording while the instructions are fresh on the mind.