Health Beat: Boosting your medical memory

Health Beat: Boosting your medical memory

Good communication between doctors and patients is critical, but it's only as good as what you remember.

Elizabeth Byrd recently underwent spinal surgery.

"It was very frightening," said Byrd, whose appointment before the procedure was a blur. "You forget exactly what's said. You're, you're scared."

That's why her neurosurgeon, Dr. Randall Porter, of the Barrow Neurological Institute, created the medical memory.

Too many patients couldn't remember the details of their stressful visits.

"They look like they understand what I'm telling them," Porter said. "They seem like they understand, and they come back to me a month later and say, 'I don't remember a word that you told me.'"

The idea behind the program is simple. Patient visits are recorded from beginning to end. Then, they can access the video online to help remember exact details.

"So it's very helpful for them to be able to watch the video, look at their images, re-understand their illness, re-understand what we are going to do for them during surgery," said Porter, who has used the medical memory in more than 1,000 cases.

In feedback surveys, 92 percent of patients said the video helped them remember more. Only one in five believed he or she could remember everything without it.

"Medical Memory helped me and my family understand exactly what was going on," said Byrd, who is now ready for her next surgery, and she's confident she'll remember everything she needs to know.

While some hospitals have openly discouraged doctors or patients from recording their appointments for legal reasons, Porter said he believes if you're practicing good medicine, it can only help.

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