Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Obam Admin To Hasten "Age of the Computer Doctor"?

In a New England Journal of Medicine article published April 9, just after his appointment to the Obama administration was announced, Blumenthal explained that if electronic technology is to save money, doctors will have to take advantage of “clinical decision support,” a term of art for computers telling doctors what to do.


The author is dismissive of the idea, but for well more than a decade computer programs have been able to diagnose many illnesses at least as well, and sometimes better, than the average human physician. In fact, the free "symptom checker" over at webmd.com ain't half bad as a starting point. Imagine how much better a program that "knows" your entire medical history (including the results of your latest diagnostic tests) would perform.

I doubt we'll see full-blown robotic surgeons before Obama's administration is over, but the role of GP's may be replaced by computers far sooner than most realize. And once medicine becomes digitized, the Law of Accelerating Returns takes over from there.

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