Adapting history-taking to telemedicine

Sharpen your history-taking skills in a virtual encounter so that you can gather the clues you need to successfully treat your patient.

Stephanie Camaglia Reznick, MD
Stephanie Camaglia Reznick, MD
13th Nov 2023 • 2m read

Since objective information can be limited in telehealth encounters, the history information obtained becomes even more important in guiding you toward the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Have you heard that 80% of determining the diagnosis is based on the history anyway? In this lesson, Dr Reznick illustrates how to identify red flag symptoms when taking a history using several case examples.

When taking a history in a virtual visit, you need to focus on a few items:

  • How classic are the patient’s symptoms for the top diagnosis you have in mind?
  • How urgent is the patient’s concern?
  • Is the patient able to carry out the plan of care?


Follow these 3 steps to triage appropriately:

  1. Screen for red flags 

    The recent onset or worsening of symptoms suggests a potentially more urgent medical situation. If you have concerns that you won’t be able to get through all of your questions, always screen for red flags first.

  2. Determine the urgency of the concern  

    Once you feel confident that the patient isn’t experiencing an emergency, you can assess how quickly a definitive diagnosis and treatment needs to be determined.

  3. Decide if an in-person examination is needed

    If you are confident that the patient is stable, their concern is not urgent, and they do not need to be directed to care elsewhere or be seen in person, you can continue with your visit.

Start the first chapter of our Telehealth Essentials course for free

Have you been asked to see patients virtually but feel that you lack the formal training to know how to obtain the information you need to provide the best care? This course will help you sharpen your history-taking and examination skills when assessing patients for HEENT, cardiopulmonary, abdominal, or musculoskeletal complaints virtually. 

Learn about the various telehealth modalities and master this in-demand skill today!

ACCME accredited, UEMS accredited, Comenius EduMedia Siegel 2017, BMA Highly recommended