My Doctor Doesn’t Touch Me Any More


Hi Jonathan,

Do I need to schedule an appointment with you this fall or have annual check ups become a thing of the past? I’ve scheduled a mammo for this month. What else do I need to do?

That’s the email I wrote to my doctor this week. He responded a few minutes later saying that I should come in for some blood work to check medication levels, but no need for much else.

This correspondence got me thinking about how the doctor/patient relationship (at least mine) has changed.

Changing Doctor-Patient Relationships

I love being able to email my doctor. I particularly love being able to say, “Hi Jonathan!” rather than “Dear Doctor ____.” I love how quickly he responds when I email him.

And even though I’ve only met him in person a handful of times, the informality of these little exchanges makes me feel that we know one another. (Silly perhaps, but true nonetheless.)

I have to laugh as I think about the annual poke/prod visits I’ve had over the years. Blood pressure, ears, heart, lungs, abdomen. I remember that serious look of attention as the doctor listened and poked and prodded here and there.

Something Big Has Changed in Medical Care

I knew something was changing in medicine when, shortly after we moved to New York, a young (handsome) doctor I was trying out asked me if I’d like him to examine my breasts! No longer was that standard procedure. (“Of course,” said I, with grin!)

Hands-on annual physicals have been replaced.

Now, with blood tests and scans and sophisticated radiology, doctors can actually “see” much more about how your body is functioning without having to look at you at all.

A little sample of your blood tells all sorts of stories and raises a red flag if something’s awry. There’s not much need anymore for examining patients, because a real life picture of your innards reveals much more accurate information than old fashioned hands-on prodding.

Do You Miss Your Doctor Visits?

Have we lost something important in not actually seeing our doctors for check ups?

I don’t think so.

Today, virtual relationships with people you seldom if ever meet are common. And because email is such a quick and strangely personal way of communicating, I feel in more immediate contact with my doctor, Jonathan, than I did with my physician who poked and prodded me for all those years.

Jonathan may not touch me as much, but I know he’ll be there when I need him to give me expert advice based on up to date research. And really, that’s what I need him for.

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Consider the Relationship with Your Doctor

How important is hands-on, in-person treatment to you? What’s the most effective kind of doctor-patient relationship for you? Is that what you have with your doctor? If not, maybe it’s time to switch.

Leave a comment about your doctor preferences in the box below, or come on over to Facebook and leave your comment there.