As the new year begins, most of the world is hoping for a better future than the last year. The COVID-19 epidemic brought great difficulty and sadness to such a great many people, the next year we all await with renewed hope.

Some things did improve. We are now able to communicate with patients better with the amazing emergence of telehealth. This technology allows physicians to reach patients remotely using video and audio in a privacy protected manner. We have been able to videoconference for some time now, but the technology for medical use and documentation was cumbersome and not patient friendly. Now we have the ability to reach out and diagnose/treat many conditions in a safe manner.

Nonetheless, what is missing is the “laying on of hands.” As surgeons, a great deal of what we diagnose must include direct physical exam. Bedside manner is exactly that, the way we as a profession and as an individual can communicate with our patients, embrace their concerns and fears, and help them to heal is central to just being a good doctor.

I have continued to see our patients in a safe manner and have tried to maintain a good bedside rapport without the handshakes to greet, the hugs to comfort sad news, and the proximity of sitting next to someone who just needs some time to process what they were just told.

I await the following year with eager optimism that we will remain safe without being aloof,  while remaining close to our patients and continuing to deliver compassionate and expert care.