How to Administer a Virtual Physical Exam

As Telehealth Visits Rise, Stanford Physicians Offer Tips for Remote Physical Exams

Maja Artandi demonstrates techniques for an upper respiratory infection exam

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent surge in telemedicine, two Stanford professors of primary care and population health, Malathi Srinivasan, MD, and Maja Artandi, MD, have created a resource designed to help physicians administer physical exams via video technology. “A lot of us are very concerned that when we’re doing a video visit we’re not going to have the same connection with the patient that we would if they were here in person, and that we’re not going to be able to do the kind of physical examination that’s really going to let us make good decisions,” explains Srinivasan. “But our patients are very capable, and if we’re able to instruct them properly they can participate with us.”

In the 16-minute instructional video, Srinivasan and Artandi walk viewers through three common provider directed self-exams—the upper respiratory infection exam, the low back exam, and the shoulder pain exam—sharing tips and best practices along the way.

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Before you Begin: Tips to Bolster the Patient-Physician Connection

Set the Scene:

Don’t look down at the patient’s picture. Instead, look directly into the lens, so it looks like you’re making eye contact.

Take a Moment to Observe:

Take a moment to observe the patient, focusing on three key factors: Home (the environment they’re in), acuity (take into account alertness, general appearance, exhaustion, etc.), and cognition (thought process and content, verbal fluency, decision making).

View the Video: