The Art and Science of Patient Care
In a perspective piece published in Wiley Online Library, author Robert Truog conveys the importance of the physical exam writing that “from the beginning, touching has been integral to doctoring.” In Of Slide Rules and Stethoscopes: AI and the Future of Doctoring, he describes the exam as a “physically intimate endeavor,” essential to both the art and science of patient care. The ritual has long been known to encourage trust and connection between patient and provider and, as articulated by Truog, reveal “secrets hidden within the body” that inform diagnosis and treatment.
Truog notes that over time, physicians have distanced “themselves from the patient's body” and today, most “examination occurs at a distance, using a variety of lenses that result in a collage of images.” He cautions that artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine could “accelerate retreat from the body,” but, if adopted properly, can give physicians with more time to devote to clinical encounters at the patient bedside.
We share this sentiment in a Stanford Medicine 25 blog post, How Technology May Lead to Greater Human Connection at the Bedside, explaining that, as AI is able to analyze and interpret more information, doctors can dedicate their attention to the physical exam and patient interaction. These facets of medicine, according to Truog, are what illustrate “the elemental commitment of the healer to the sick, a statement of companionship, of a willingness to accompany the patient wherever the illness leads.”
Humility is an underappreciated skill in a time of global budgets, evidenced based approaches, and cost-containment. The bright, well-read, talented medical students who may lack humility are not uncommon.
Patient-centered care is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement on Health Care. As such, healthcare institutions are strongly focusing on the patient-physician relationship and the patient experience.
The editor-in-chief of Medscape, Dr. Eric Topol, visited Stanford to sit down and do an interview with our Dr. Vergese for the Medscape One-on-One online video series.
Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University, spoke of the rise and fall of the medical authority in the doctor patient office encounter in his many scholarly articles. With the internet becoming the “elephant in the doctor’s office,” the dynamic of medical authority has certainly changed…