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April 29, 1974

Criteria in the Choice of a Computer System: I. The Computer in Theory

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pathology, William Pepper Laboratory, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1974;228(5):591-594. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230300031024

THIS article reviews current laboratory computer systems from one user's viewpoint, and suggests a new criterion for evaluating them. The personal opinions expressed here are based on six years of intensive experience in designing and implementing a computer system for our laboratory; they derive whatever interest they possess from these facts: (1) our system has been operating successfully for the past four years, (2) it has won complete acceptance among the professional staff it serves, (3) it saves our hospital considerably more in actual dollars than it costs, and (4) it is ready for use in other hospitals.

It will be seen that these opinions do not agree with important, commonly held opinions about computer systems, their design, their objectives, and especially the way computer technology is now applied. Computer systems, in my opinion, exist to facilitate the care of the patient, rather than to exhibit the technical accomplishments of