The Case for Computer-Based Health Care | NextGov.com

The victory of Watson, an artificial-intelligence system designed to dominate the quiz show Jeopardy!, over the country’s best nerds in 2011 may not be the equal of John Henry struggling against a steam-powered drill in the annals of man versus machine. But the replacement of Jeopardy!‘s human competitors with a computer algorithm may signal a trend that could soon spread through the health care sector as Obamacare is implemented.

That’s the prophecy of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. The prominent Silicon Valley investor has predicted that computers will replace 80 percent of what doctors do in a couple of decades. The shift could counter another health-sector trend: stagnant productivity, which the Affordable Care Act aims to address with financial incentives for effective, efficient care, and which could encourage a move toward digital doctoring.

Between 1990 and 2010, productivity in the health care sector declined by 0.6 percent annually as employment increased by 2.9 percent, according to Robert Kocher, now a venture capitalist at Venrock, in an October 2011 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. Increasing productivity might bridge this disconnect, and computers could be part of the solution.

Khosla, who supports the move to computer-based health care, notes the human frailties that weaken doctors’ diagnoses and treatment: The brain is biased, forgetful, and limited. As a result, diagnoses are often inconsistent. Khosla cites a study in which psychologists were asked to diagnose patients’ major depressive disorder. On a scale where 0 represented total disagreement and 1 represented total agreement, the psychologists rated 0.3.

Human brains take in less data than their digital counterparts. “It’s a simple fact that most doctors couldn’t possibly read and digest all of the latest 5,000 research articles on heart disease,” Khosla writes. “In fact, most of the average doctor’s medical knowledge is from when they were in medical school, and cognitive limitations prevent them from remembering the 10,000+ diseases humans can get.” As the amount of information increases–there’s more research, and more sensors to collect it–digital support processing the data could be a big help.

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Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nextgov.com

Bayes rule does diagnosis better due to the inverse problem.

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