Video Feedback Can Be a Helpful Tool for QI, Patient Safety


Procedures are the most expensive item in healthcare, but tremendous variation remains in quality.

“In part that’ s because we have weak systems of peer support and in part because medicine sanctions a physician to do procedures, and then for the next 40 or 50 years, a surgeon can receive no input and not change their technique even though the field changes,” says Martin Makary, MD, MPH, professor of surgery and health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Video could be used to address this, he suggests in an editorial called “Video Transparency: A Powerful Tool for Patient Safety and Quality Improvement” in the January 2016 BMJ Quality & Safety.

“In areas of excellence outside of medicine—football, aviation—they use video and video feedback for educational purposes. In healthcare, we can also use video to learn,” he says. “In surgical care, we can actually predict outcomes based on independent review of procedure video, but we just choose not to record videos because we don’ t have the infrastructure set up to provide feedback.”

When it has been done, he says, it’ s been received with enthusiasm. This doesn’ t mean cameras in primary-care clinics monitoring physicians.

“We’ re talking about the video-based procedures being recorded, not being erased with the next procedure that’ s done,” he says. “In the past, we couldn’ t do this with videotapes, but now with the capacity of memory and video data storage, there’ s an opportunity to leave the ‘ record’ button on on the video-based procedures that are already taking place.”


  1. Joo S, Xu T, Makary MA. Video transparency: a powerful tool for patient safety and quality improvement [published online ahead of print January 12, 2016]. BMJ Qual Saf,doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2015-005058.

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