The next time you see your cardiologist or internist, what would happen if you took out your smartphone or a digital recorder and said you'd like to record your appointment?
The doctor might be startled, might bridle, might have visions of a supposedly confidential discussion showing up on YouTube — or in a malpractice lawyer's files.
Or the doctor might think more like Dr. James Ryan, a family practitioner in Ludington, Mich.
With his patients' approval, Dr. Ryan routinely records appointments, then uploads the audio to a secure web platform so that patients can listen whenever they need to recall what they discussed with him. They can give family members access to the recordings as well.
Sheri Piper, who has seen Dr. Ryan almost monthly for a host of medical problems — gout, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, anxiety and depression — has come to rely on this system.
"As aging continues, it's harder to not be overwhelmed by what you hear in a doctor's office," said Ms. Piper, 63, a retired administrative assistant.
An extended round of hospitalizations and operations in 2013 affected her memory, she said, so "you can tell me something today and I won't remember tomorrow."
Thus, last month, straining to recall what Dr. Ryan had said about how often to take allopurinol for gout, she turned to the recording (annotated so that patients can easily locate specific topics of conversation) for clarification.