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October 12, 1963

Computer Processing of Medical Data by Variable-Field-Length Format

Author Affiliations

New York

From New York University Medical Center; Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Bellevue Hospital; and New York University College of Engineering.

JAMA. 1963;186(2):132-138. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.63710020001015

THE APPLICATION of current methods of computer technology to the processing of medical data can assist the medical community in terms of efficient storage, rapid retrieval, and accurate, immediate analysis of significant clinicial information. Numerical and alphabetic information can be stored permanently with rapid accessibility. These data can be used to produce a compendium that may be continuously enlarged and, in turn, modified by more recently acquired information. The variable-field-length format to be described in this report is directed toward facilitation of the input of information with the ultimate improvement in the quality and utility of the output.

The ever-increasing amount of clinical data that can be obtained from a single individual undergoing medical examination makes it increasingly difficult for the physician to encompass the total pertinent information obtained from a patient, and even more difficult for him to correlate the various findings in a large group of patients.