Few clinics in the United States routinely offer patients audio or video recordings of their clinic visits. While interest in this practice has increased, to date, there are no data on the prevalence of recording clinic visits in the United States.
Our objectives were to (1) determine the prevalence of audiorecording clinic visits for patients’ personal use in the United States, (2) assess the attitudes of clinicians and public toward recording, and (3) identify whether policies exist to guide recording practices in 49 of the largest health systems in the United States.
We administered 2 parallel cross-sectional surveys in July 2017 to the internet panels of US-based clinicians (SERMO Panel) and the US public (Qualtrics Panel). To ensure a diverse range of perspectives, we set quotas to capture clinicians from 8 specialties. Quotas were also applied to the public survey based on US census data (gender, race, ethnicity, and language other than English spoken at home) to approximate the US adult population. We contacted 49 of the largest health systems (by clinician number) in the United States by email and telephone to determine the existence, or absence, of policies to guide audiorecordings of clinic visits for patients’ personal use. Multiple logistic regression models were used to determine factors associated with recording.
In total, 456 clinicians and 524 public respondents completed the surveys. More than one-quarter of clinicians (129/456, 28.3%) reported that they had recorded a clinic visit for patients’ personal use, while 18.7% (98/524) of the public reported doing so, including 2.7% (14/524) who recorded visits without the clinician’s permission. Amongst clinicians who had not recorded a clinic visit, 49.5% (162/327) would be willing to do so in the future, while 66.0% (346/524) of the public would be willing to record in the future. Clinician specialty was associated with prior recording: specifically oncology (odds ratio [OR] 5.1, 95% CI 1.9-14.9; P=.002) and physical rehabilitation (OR 3.9, 95% CI 1.4-11.6; P=.01). Public respondents who were male (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.26-3.61; P=.005), younger (OR 0.73 for a 10-year increase in age, 95% CI 0.60-0.89; P=.002), or spoke a language other than English at home (OR 1.99; 95% CI 1.09-3.59; P=.02) were more likely to have recorded a clinic visit. None of the large health systems we contacted reported a dedicated policy; however, 2 of the 49 health systems did report an existing policy that would cover the recording of clinic visits for patient use. The perceived benefits of recording included improved patient understanding and recall. Privacy and medicolegal concerns were raised.
Policy guidance from health systems and further examination of the impact of recordings—positive or negative—on care delivery, clinician-related outcomes, and patients’ behavioral and health-related outcomes is urgently required.