With 81 percent of Americans carrying a smartphone these days, recording or photographing interactions with a medical provider is happening more often.

Sometimes, it’s done openly. Other times, surreptitiously.

At Novant Health, the organization’s policy is for patients to ask your doctor’s or provider’s permission before recording. If the provider doesn’t agree, they are allowed to stop the visit if the patient continues to insist.

“We understand that there often is a benefit to recording, for example, to recall information that would be helpful to a patient,” said Angel Wells, manager of Novant Health’s privacy office. “We already advocate for that by encouraging patients to write things down during a visit, or by bringing along a family member or friend.”

“But this is definitely a case-by-case, provider-by-provider issue,” she said. “Everyone has different comfort levels.”

The upside for recording an interaction with your provider:

  • It gives the patient better recall when they try to remember details about, for example, medications and their frequencies, when to resume activities, rehabilitation details, etc.
Fletcher_Sid_Head_NoCoat2_web
Dr. Sidney Fletcher

“Taping something that they may need for future review to care for themselves may prove useful,” said Dr. Sidney Fletcher, Novant Health senior vice president and chief clinical officer.

 “An example would be taping the nurse or provider talking through a complex dressing change. The family and patient could reference to make sure it is done

accurately.”

  • It can help when a patient is overcome with grief or complex emotions during a visit. Later, perhaps with family or friends nearby, and calmer emotions, it is better to review details of what the provider discussed.

But, there are potential problems in recording and photographing, Fletcher said.

“The biggest concern is that it may affect patient care negatively,” Fletcher said. It also may "create the feeling of being on stage and could create performance issues for our providers and team members.  In addition, it could capture other patients whose privacy must be protected.”

Novant Health offers these guidelines:

  • In order to protect privacy, patients and visitors can’t photograph or record other patients, or capture patient information in the background of any photograph or recording.
  • Patients and visitors can’t photograph or record a Novant Health team member if he/she doesn’t wish to be photographed or recorded. Always check with the department, practice or facility before recording or photographing, as there could be situations that prohibit it.
  • Nurse and patient using cell phone

    Patients and visitors are not permitted to record or photograph medical procedures, treatment or emergencies in Novant Health practices and facilities.

  • Novant Health’s MyChart is a secure, online health management tool that connects you to your personalized health record. Patients can view laboratory test results, notes from recent clinic visit and email their care team.
  • Novant Health reserves the right to restrict or terminate recording or photographing on a case-by-case basis. Patients who refuse to stop and who aren’t receiving emergency care may be asked to leave. Visitors who refuse to stop may be directed to leave, even if the patient is still being treated. Regardless of someone photographing or videotaping in those cases, Novant Health would provide the necessary emergency care, Fletcher said.

Novant Health providers and practices are committed to the care of patients. In cases where recording is not permitted, patients are strongly encouraged to contact their providers with questions.

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