NPR has fantastic story about how some in medicine feel the art of the physical exam is fading in favor of emerging technologies.  The story talks about how medical technology – especially imaging are being relied upon too heavily.  Obviously, this is not the first time these concerns have been raised.

NPR mentions a study in JAMA that showed among 453 physicians, residents were only able to recognize on average 20% of all cardiac events via auscultation. More worrisome, the number of correct identifications improved little with training and was not significantly higher than the number identified by medical students. Of note, NPR mentions this study was recent – not true – it was conducted in 1997.

The story by NPR goes on to quote a physician who says:

“You know, we often spend so much time with that entity in the computer — I call it the ‘iPatient,’ like your iPad and your iPhone. And the real patient in the bed is often left wondering, ‘Where is everybody? What are they doing?’ I sense that we’re spending very little time at the bedside.”


True, technologies such as the iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices could be considered a distraction from spending more time with patients – but the key is to use these technologies to improve medical education in novel ways. An example is iMurmur, an iPhone app that allows you to listen to heart Murmurs at your own pace [note: the app no longer exists – there are many other murmur educational apps in the App Store]. These types of applications allow for mobile medical learning – crucial in the clinic and hospital setting.

Note: iMurmur no longer exists, instead it was bought by ThinkLabs, who have reintroduced it as iMurmur 2. The overall layout looks completely different (not as nice as the original), and until we can review it we cannot recommend it at the current time.

Source: NPR