Spurred on by a chance encounter with Princess Diana from his childhood, radio producer Peter Shevlin asks how important human touch is when it comes to diagnosing, treating or comforting patients in healthcare?
Modern technology has brought with it scans, tests and even robots. It is now possible to treat a whole episode of illness without laying a finger on a patient. How does this affect the doctor-patient relationship? And are we actually losing anything?
To find out, Peter travels to Stanford University to seek the opinions of Professor Abraham Verghese and, at the University of Miami, he visits the Touch Research Institute. Professor Edzard Ernst and Professor Brendan McCormack also share their experience and insight.
At a hospital in Newry, Northern Ireland, a groundbreaking project sees a robot patrol the ward, allowing intensive care specialists in one hospital to remotely assess patients in another.
Through his encounters Peter hopes to shed some light on one of our most fundamental senses, while examining its usefulness for healthcare professionals around the world.
Producer: Richard Scrase
A BlokMedia production for BBC Radio 4.