The eyes may be the window to the soul, but for physicians and nurses, it’s the face that may hold the key to uncovering potentially serious conditions of which a patient may not be fully aware. Studying a patient’s face closely during an examination can be one of the best ways for a physician to identify health issues that may be developing so that important treatment regimens can be initiated.

A recent article identified a number of potential illnesses that can be diagnosed simply by looking closely at a patient’s face.  They include:

  • Dry, flaky skin or lips can be an indication of dehydration or an issue with the sweat gland function.
  • Excess facial hair, particularly along the jawline, chin, and upper lip can be a warning sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance.
  • Soft, yellow spots on eyelids can be cholesterol-filled lesions indicating a risk of heart disease.
  • Eye bags and puffiness can be a sign of chronic allergies.
  • Facial asymmetry can be an early warning sign of a stroke.
  • Discolored complexion can indicate anemia, liver disease, or heart or lung disease.
  • Rashes and blotches might be a flag for certain digestive problems, celiac disease, or lupus.
  • Loss of eyelashes or eyebrows could be an indicator of alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that attacks hair follicles.

These facial indicators can be a critical first warning signs for serious disease, but the physician may not ever notice them if his or her head is buried in a computer, key-clacking away in the ever-present EHR. A recent study found that physicians focusing on the computer screen can negatively impact key components of the patient/provider interaction. The study discovered that non-verbal communication, including eye contact, is as crucial to the success of the engagement as verbal communication.

The furniture and set up of many examination rooms contributes significantly to this problem. The exam table can be in one corner of the room while the physician’s desk and computer sits in the other corner, forcing the doctor to look away from the patient as he or she focuses on the keyboard, entering information.

This issue can be addressed with a properly designed exam room arrangement and furniture that encourages face-to-face interaction. StableRise helps solve this problem by providing flexible and ergonomically designed workstations that enhance doctor-patient communication by enabling the doctor to face the patient during the exam. StableRise returns the focus of the caregiver-patient encounter back to a personal connection. Whether the physician prefers to stand up or sit down, shoulder-to-shoulder, or across a consultative table, the StableRise workstation enables a focused engagement that allows the physician to detect important signals being sent from the patient’s face.

A patient’s verbal description of how they are feeling can provide important information to the physician. But often, as is the case with facial warning signs, non-verbal cues can be just as important. Setting up the exam room to allow the physician to learn from them can be a critical component in the doctor-patient engagement.

For more information on how StableRise can help physicians improve the quality of care for patients, visit our website at