Figure 3-6. Physician's patient list display.
3-11. DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
a. Preliminary Diagnosis. The physician has access to a data bank network
that can assist him in diagnosing conditions and planning treatment. By simply entering
the patient's symptoms, the computer will provide a list of associated diseases and
conditions. (See figure 3-7.) It will also identify tests that can confirm, rule out, and/or
supplement the initial diagnosis. A new tool, outcomes research, is becoming available.
Outcomes research provides historical data on success rates of various alternative
b. Patient Monitoring. Other kinds of computers continually monitor the
patient's condition. Analog computers monitor many body functions such as heartbeat,
blood pressure, brain waves, and emotional stress (based on acidity of the skin, and
alkalinity of the stomach). Unusual variations from the norm will trigger an alarm that
results in immediate action by the front desk, the nurse, and/or the attendant. Battery-
operated computers can give electrical stimulus to a patient, as in a pacemaker. They
may also dispense medication. Diabetics, for example, may have insulin pumps
imbedded in the abdomen. Computers may provide other remedial treatments, as well.
c. Aids to Movement. Artificial prostheses, or artificial limbs, may, in some
cases, be controlled by a small computer chip, that translates impulses of certain nerves
and muscles into finger, wrist, and ankle movements. As computers continue to get
smaller, applications are foreseen in which a computer chip is imbedded in a patient's
body to sense or control certain functions. An otherwise disabled patient will become
more independent and normal in his functioning thanks to computer technology.