When we think of breakthroughs in medicine, we conjure up images of new drugs or new surgeries. When we think of changes to the health-care system, byzantine legislation comes to mind. But according to a growing number of observers, the next big thing to hit medical care will be new ways of accumulating, processing, and applying data—revolutionizing medical care the same way Billy Beane and his minions turned baseball into “moneyball.”
Physicians, after all, do more than process data. They attend at patients’ bedsides and counsel families. They grasp nuance and learn to master uncertainty. For their part, the innovators at IBM make a point of presenting Watson as a tool that can help health-care professionals, rather than replace them. Think Dr. McCoy using his tricorder to diagnose a phaser injury on Star Trek, not the droid fitting Luke Skywalker with a robotic hand in Star Wars. To most experts, that’s a more realistic picture of what medicine will look like, at least for the foreseeable future.
From The Atlantic’s article “The Robot Will See You Now,” about the IBM AI Watson’s foray into medicine and other intersections of medicine and data technology.
(Thanks, S, for the link.)
A San Francisco-area doctor started creating his own electronic health records back in the 80s and 90s, starting with Word documents. Rowley has an IT background. The article says that Rowley uses templates tailored to his practice’s needs. His company Practice Fusion gives away its EHR web-based software.
Rowley is one of the anomalous few who are equally skilled tweaking patient health and computer code. He never planned to be an MD; he was studying information science. Some of his college buddies were pre-med; they volunteered at a free health clinic in Baja California. Because Rowley grew up bilingual (born in Mexico City), he offered his services as a translator. Volunteering at the clinic was a “life-changing” experience, prompting Rowley to switch majors and go to medical school, ultimately starting a medical practice. But he still enjoys geeking out.
Of course, Rowley started his practice using paper charts (it was 1983), but became increasingly frustrated by not having the information he needed, such as the results from a blood test from 2 days ago. “100% of my charts were 80% right” (complete), Rowley said.
So, the doctor started inventing new workflows and documents to better manage the practice. He created a succession of Word documents and organized them into a database of sorts. This became the first electronic record system he used. Later, he wrote macros that would serve as templates.
Full article can be found here