For Those Who Wish To Be Medical Chiropractors —
Look, Before You Leap
SOURCE: The New York Times ~ Opinion Page
By ABRAHAM VERGHESE
Treat the Patient, Not the CT Scan
THE other day as I walked through a wing of my hospital, it occurred to me that Watson, I.B.M.’s supercomputer, would be more at home here than he was on “Jeopardy!” Perhaps it’s good, I thought, that his next challenge, with the aid of the Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will be to learn to diagnose illnesses and treat patients.
On our rounds of the wards, Watson would see lots of other computers with humans glued to them like piglets at a sow’s teats. We might visit a patient with a complex illness — one whose second liver transplant has failed, who has a fungal meningitis and now also has kidney failure and bleeding and is on a score of medications.
Watson might help me digest the sheer volume of data that is in the electronic medical record and might see trends in the data that speak of an impending disaster. And since Watson is constantly trolling the Web, he would perhaps bring to my attention a case report published the previous night in a Swedish journal describing a new interaction between two of the drugs my patient is taking.
Better still, if Watson could harness data from all the patients in our hospital and in every other hospital in America, we might be alerted to mini-epidemics taking shape. For example, Watson might recognize that the kidney failure in our patient is linked to kidney failure in a patient in Buffalo and another in San Antonio; all three patients, he might inform me, were taking a “natural” weight loss supplement that contained a Chinese herb, aristolochia, that has been associated with more than 100 cases of kidney failure.
In short, Watson would be a potent and clever companion as we made our rounds. (more…)