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Can’t Remember What The Doctor Said? New Technology Will Help.

December 8, 2015

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Research and probably personal experience shows that patients don't absorb much of the medical information they receive from their physicians and are often mistaken about what happened during the visit.  A 2003 paper in Britain's Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that patients "immediately" forget 40% to 80% of what is told to them during the doctor visit.   Hospital patients do just about the same after discharge, and risk ending up back in the hospital when they fail to understand medication or follow-up orders.   Discharge papers are often misunderstood, particularly by older patients, or lost after arriving home.  Doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City have developed software to record critical information about a patient's office visit or hospital stay that allows the patient to review and show to others the doctor's explanation or recommendation.  The neurosurgery unit at Lenox Hill started making digital videos for patients when they are discharged and began a study to see if the videos improve patient outcomes.  The study will give some patients the standard discharge summary and instructions while others will get the same paperwork plus a video that walks them through what they need to do.  At Lenox Hill, about 90% of patients have been accessing the digital information or video to review discharge instructions.  The hospital also calls the patient to see if they have reviewed the video or need help doing so.  The technology is catching on at other hospital systems and may well be standard operating procedure in the near future.

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