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Smart use of audio recordings in doctor-patient consultations

Arzt-Patienten-Gespräche mit dem Smartphone aufnehmen

Wouldn’t it be good if we could listen back to exactly what was discussed after a difficult doctor-patient consultation? Especially the nuances and details? Perhaps we were so stressed that we no longer remember everything? You might be left wondering, “How long exactly did the doctor say I should avoid any sport?” As a patient, we often receive a medical report or at least a prescription. However, documents like these usually just summarise the issue using medical terminology.

04.03.2024 | Reading time: 3 Min.
Peter Korthals

When recording a conversation can be useful

For most of the things we discuss as patients, notes in the EverAsk app or on a piece of paper are perfectly adequate. There is always the option to record a conversation, but we should consider when we really need to do this. Audio recording can increase the tension for all of us, and that includes doctors: the conversation can be subject to further scrutiny at a later date and third parties might also access the recording.

However, audio recording a doctor-patient consultation makes perfect sense if you expect that your stress level will prevent you from focusing fully on the conversation. The same applies if you expect to receive information that will be very distressing.

Digitally recording the conversation can also be valuable if you want to talk about the conversation with someone close to you who couldn't be with you at the time.


Details and additional information can be important too

When the content of the conversation becomes more complex and/or stressful, our inner tension increases. This stress impairs our ability to think clearly, but we need to devote our full mental capacity to the conversation, especially when we are dealing with difficult topics.

We’ve all been there. We get to the end of a complex conversation and perhaps the discussion didn’t go as we hoped. We’ve remembered our diagnosis and what treatment is next. But some details have been lost: “What did the doctor say at the very beginning; What should I do if the pain suddenly comes back?” If you had an audio recording, you could simply listen to the conversation a second time.


What to bear in mind when recording conversations

In principle, it's easy to record a conversation digitally with a smartphone. Most smartphones have a pre-installed recording app that you can use.

However, there is one important point to bear in mind: explain to your doctor at the beginning that you would like to record the conversation. Recording the conversation without the other person’s consent is not permitted by law. Secret recording can also have a very negative impact on the atmosphere of the conversation.


Four tips for audio recordings in doctor-patient consultations


When preparing, consider whether it might make sense to record your doctor-patient consultation. Are you about to have a difficult conversation that could also be emotionally stressful?


Always ask your doctor in advance for permission to record the conversation.


Explain to your doctor why it is important for you to record the conversation. As a rule, doctors will not raise any objections if they understand your reasons.


Use the pre-installed recording app on your smartphone or an audio program of your choice to record the conversation.

Alternatively, you could also ask the doctor to briefly summarise what was discussed at the end of the consultation – and just record this summary.


If you still have questions

If you come across medical terms or contexts that you do not understand, there are other ways to get help. The first option is to ask your doctor again: they will also want to make sure that you have understood what has been discussed.

In addition, you also have the option to reach out to a diagnostic interpreter1). An interpreter is a service or person who translates and explains complicated medical findings and technical terms for patients.

As a KPT customer, you can call the Medi24 advice centre hotline around the clock, 365 days a year.
 +41 58 310 99 99


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