[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Sept 16, 1968

Sequential Diagnosis by Computer

Author Affiliations

From the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (Dr. Gorry), and the Laboratory of Computer Science, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr. Barnett).

JAMA. 1968;205(12):849-854. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140380053012

A computer program for sequential diagnosis has been developed for use in a variety of problem areas. The program employs sequential decision-making to balance the risk of making a diagnosis against the cost of further testing and the value of the evidence which can be obtained. Basically the program consists of an information structure which describes the problem area, an inference function which interprets signs and symptoms in terms of the medical knowledge in the information structure, and a test selection function which continually reevaluates the potential value of diagnostic tests in the light of increased information about the patient and the costs of tests and possible misdiagnoses.