Posted on: April 13, 2019

We are very excited to have a guest blog post from Friends of WSAC member Kirsten Veugelers, the founder of Navigate Your Health!  Kirsten recently did a “Toonie Talk” presentation here at the centre and told us about the My Care Conversation App created by Alberta Health Services.  This blog post tells us all about the App and how to best use it!

 

AHS My Care Conversation App
– Guest Blog Writer – Kirsten Veugelers of Navigate Your Health

Patients usually are unable to use all the information their doctors tell them at appointments, because it is known that patients forget 40-80% of what was discussed, and up to half the information is recalled incorrectly. Recording the medical appointment can help bridge that information gap, but some doctors are uncomfortable with patients making the recording. Two of the arguments against it have to do with

  1. protecting private health information: doctors don’t want patients to record other peoples’ private conversations, which is an offense; and
  2. doctors also don’t want their patients to share their private information without thinking about who will have access.

Alberta Health Services wanted to give patients the benefit of recording their medical consultations, while also protecting their private health information. With these goals in mind, they developed the My Care Conversations App, released November 2018. You can install the app on your smart phone or tablet for free through Google Play or the App Store.

I have downloaded the My Care Conversations App to my phone, and have started using it in my practice as a Personal Patient Navigator. In this blog I will provide a description of the app’s features, and a few tips I’ve learned from using the app myself. For a more detailed tutorial, check out the video on the webpage introducing the My Care Conversations App; there are also instructions and tips built-in to the app to help you figure out how to use it (find them in the app’s “More Info” menu, labeled “Tutorial”).

Security
One of the features of the My Care Conversations app is security – it will check your identity every time you open the app, or every time you return to the screen, such as if your phone goes to sleep or if you’ve navigated to a different page while the My Care Conversations is open. This repeated security check is to help protect your personal files.

 

How It Works
When My Care Conversations opens, you will see the “record” screen, with a big red button to start recording. When you push the button, it will first post a message reminding you not to record in public areas – this is to protect the private information of others in the waiting room and hallways – and to tell your doctor that you wish to record the appointment – this is courtesy toward your doctor to promote trust and respect. You have to tell the app to “Continue to Record”.

a)                       b)

 

(a) The default page of the My Care Conversations app, and
(b) the reminder screen after you hit the red “Start Recording” button.

 

Save your audio recordings!
One pitfall I encountered when I used My Care Conversations the first time was not saving my recording. When you are done recording, hit the “Save” button in the bottom right corner to make sure the audio file is saved to your phone. You will have the option to name the file with the default title, which is the date, or you may give the file your own title.  Remember to save your audio recordings before you close the app!

 

Listening to your recordings
To listen to recordings later, open the app and select the “Recordings” icon at the bottom of the screen. From the list of recordings select the one you wish to hear. When it’s loaded and ready for you to listen, you will see the file size and the recording length; it seems to take longer to load when the file is larger and longer, so be patient if you’re only seeing dotted lines instead of file information. When the file is loaded, tap the play button (a triangle) to hear the playback.

 

Creating notes on your audio files
You have the option of creating notes on your audio files, either as you record or as you listen. Tap the “Notes” icon (rectangle with a corner folded over) to open the note-taking option. Make sure you save the notes – they don’t auto-save when you close the file. To save the notes on an audio file, tap the little checkmark in the top right corner.

a)                        b)

 

a) Note-taking and file-sharing functions on audio files.
b) How to save the notes on your audio files before you close them.

 

Sharing your audio files
You may also share the audio file with those you trust, or save it to another device for long-term storage. To share a file, select the file from your list of recordings, then tap the share icon (box with a curved arrow pointing to the right) to the right of the play button. The app will remind you to share the information only with those you trust, and not to share to social media. When you choose “continue to share” you will see a list of methods you may use to share the file.

Note: your written notes will not be shared when you share your audio file; if you want to share or store your notes, you need to copy and paste them into a separate document, text or e-mail.   Also note: outside of the app, audio files are not security-protected.

 

Preparing for your appointment
My Care Conversations can also help you prepare questions for your appointment. Select the “Prepare” Icon at the bottom of the page to find questions stored to your device. There is an archive of built-in questions, which are geared toward patients with cancer, so if you don’t have cancer very few will be meaningful. You can also write your own questions by clicking the “+” button near the top right corner. After you have entered your question, make sure to save it (top right corner).

To setup to display questions during an appointment, first select a question you want to ask, then tap the little toggle button (just above the question and to the right) – the question is ready for display when the button is blue and positioned to the right, AND you hit save in the top right corner. You will see your list of selected questions when you tap “current” in the “Prepare” section; your questions will also display on the screen the next time you use the app to record.

a)            b)

(a) How to save a question from the archive to your list of current questions.
(b) the question successfully saved to your Current list.

In summary,

The My Care Conversations app is a useful tool to help you review information from doctor’s appointments, especially if there’s a lot of information and/or if you’re dealing with an overwhelming diagnosis like cancer.  Keep in mind that no device or app can help if you struggle to ask your questions, to share your concerns and priorities, or to make sense of the information for your situation. Then you need to ask someone help you – whether a family member, friend or a professional health advocate and navigator, like at Navigate Your Health.

 

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