HumanInsight A scoping review of the unassisted physical exam conducted over synchronous audio-video telemedicine
Syst Rev. 2022 Oct 13;11(1):219. doi: 10.1186/s13643-022-02085-1.
BACKGROUND: This scoping review aims to provide a broad overview of the research on the unassisted virtual physical exam performed over synchronous audio-video telemedicine to identify gaps in knowledge and guide future research.
METHODS: Searches for studies on the unassisted virtual physical exam were conducted in 3 databases. We included primary research studies in English on the virtual physical exam conducted via patient-to-provider synchronous, audio-video telemedicine in the absence of assistive technology or personnel. Screening and data extraction were performed by 2 independent reviewers.
RESULTS: Seventy-four studies met inclusion criteria. The most common components of the physical exam performed over telemedicine were neurologic (38/74, 51%), musculoskeletal (10/74, 14%), multi-system (6/74, 8%), neuropsychologic (5/74, 7%), and skin (5/74, 7%). The majority of the literature focuses on the telemedicine physical exam in the adult population, with only 5% of studies conducted specifically in a pediatric population. During the telemedicine exam, the patients were most commonly located in outpatient offices (28/74, 38%) and homes and other non-clinical settings (25/74, 34%). Both patients and providers in the included studies most frequently used computers for the telemedicine encounter.
CONCLUSIONS: Research evaluating the unassisted virtual physical exam is at an early stage of maturity and is skewed toward the neurologic, musculoskeletal, neuropsychologic, and skin exam components. Future research should focus on expanding the range of telemedicine exam maneuvers studied and evaluating the exam in the most relevant settings, which for telemedicine is trending toward exams conducted through mobile devices and in patients' homes.
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