Less than six years ago a group of physicians and J scientists gathered at the Rockefeller Institute in New York to discuss the role of computers in medicine.1 The physician who attended that conference could easily fire his imagination and envision an era when widespread use of computers would permit precise automatic diagnoses, rapid solutions to complex physiological problems, accurate automatic analysis of laboratory and functional tests, and easy retrieval of clinical and research data. Subsequent to that original meeting, the scientific and lay literature have been flooded with articles, mostly speculative, describing potential applications of computers in various fields of medical practice. As a result, a climate of expectation has developed, the general feeling being that practicality in these usages is just around the corner.
An appraisal of the tangible effects of the application of computers in medicine to date reveals that some of the early expectations have
Spencer WA, Vallbona C. Application of Computers in Clinical Practice. JAMA. 1965;191(11):917-921. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080110041010