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December 8, 1962

The Potential Role of Computers in Medical Practice

Author Affiliations

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine.

JAMA. 1962;182(10):994-1000. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050490018004

It is predicted that digital electronic computers will assume an increasingly important role in medicine. Present models employ a variety of input, memory, and output devices for processing alphabetical and numerical information. Internally stored programs control movement of data, logical comparisons, and mathematical operations. An illustrative FORTRAN program concerned with anemia and uremia is presented. Computer centers now compile summary data on hospital admissions, analyze complicated research data, and index medical publications. Hospitals will increasingly employ smaller computers for business and research purposes and for the facilitation of patient care. Future programs, in all probability, will facilitate communication and record-keeping in the hospital, relieve the physician of much routine history-taking, calculate diagnostic probabilities, and indicate those diagnostic and therapeutic procedures most likely to benefit the patient.