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March 30, 1970

The Physician and the Medical History

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine

JAMA. 1970;211(13):2158. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170130054024

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To the Editor.—  The progress reported in "Experimentation in Medical History-Taking" (210:1443, 1969) encourages one to hope that clinical medicine is beginning to profit from the exciting advances occurring in the area of information technology. I question, however, whether any device, no matter how sophisticated, can substitute for the physician-obtained history. For one thing, the interview is more than an information-gathering activity; it is the means by which the physician and patient establish the quality of their personal relationship. A physician who does no more than look over a computer printout or a checklist may compromise or destroy his identity as an understanding human being capable of responding to the needs of his patient. The major emphasis of new methods of data-gathering, in my opinion, should be to enhance the value of the interview by freeing the physician from the necessity of personally inquiring about every item in a