With the plethora of diagnostic devices and computer-generated devices, its not surprising that some doctors can arrive at a diagnosis without coming into physical contact with a patient, other than by entering the room with a cursory greeting and a customary “how are you?”.
Physical contact includes simple things like hand-to-hand contact and actual physical examination of the patient. True, there are limitations as to what can be achieved by using your five senses, what with high-fangled scans and sophisticated devices being able to get to the root of the problem with hardly any sweat being raised.
My contention is that the physical examination is an important ritual in establishing a good patient-doctor relationship. This ritual sets the stage by which the person being examined transforms his role to that of a patient and also, places his trust in the hands of the doctor examining him.
And just in case you think rituals are not important, we might as well have not had the Presidential swearing-in ceremony for heads of state!