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You'll still need a physician: Limitations to artificial intelligence

You'll still need a physician: Limitations to artificial intelligence

Taking a patient's medical history could easily be done by a machine of some sort. However, physical examinations, feeling for various organs in the abdomen, positioning a speculum to look into the ear, etc., are going to be hard to replace with machines. And, no matter how smart machines get, someone is going to have to supervise them in case something goes haywire or in case the machine makes a "stupid" decision. Another problem is that machines don't move very fast in emergency situations, nor can they make judgments based on fact, but tempered by human kindness and understanding. Physicians probably won't become obsolete for quite some time.

That does not mean that technology cannot greatly assist the healthcare professional. Part of my reason for developing MEDSTF.ZIP <ON DISK ICON> was to demonstrate how a common "low tech" computer (the HP 95LX) could be used as a handy analytical aid in the process of diagnoses and treatment. This demonstration has been, thanks to you and the size of The HP Palmtop Paper readership, an overwhelming success.

I am also experimenting with the New Micros Forth computer, with an eye toward creating a "patient watcher" device that will monitor various patient parameters and adjust drug infusion rates appropriately. This "valve twiddling" is usually done by nurses who sit for hours and do nothing but take vital signs and twiddle valves on IV bottles -how boring! A device like this could free them up to do tasks that are appropriate for a human being: like talking to patients, educating them, holding their hands, etc...

Robert Williams, M.D. CompuServe ID: [76167,2773]

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