ArticlesDiagnosis and Therapeutics

Computer use in diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy

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Science  26 May 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4344, pp. 926-931
DOI: 10.1126/science.347580


Computers are used to influence diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. The computer's information-handling capabilities allow it to serve as a reliable extension of the physician's memory and expander of the physician's information and synthesized knowledge resources. Computers have been used to facilitate decisions through organization of patient data, improved classification of patients, decision analysis in clinical settings, and simulation of expert clinical reasoning. Computer programs are more successful in narrow, constrained, single arenas of medicine with much underlying pathophysiologic understanding and where decisions are based largely on hard laboratory data. New models of synthetic reasoning that simulate expert clinical behavior show promise of supporting complicated decisions concerning problems of multiple diseases. All systems are confronted by problems of consensus and authority of the underlying information used.