Why Medicine needs computer science

Complex yet easy

It’s clear that we all have limitations. And that’s a fact, not a personal opinion. The Medicine itself it’s not a subject hard to understand. It’s ruled by some complex processes but easy to understand. When you begin studying medicine, you start learning those biological terms and functions, just to be able to understand the human body as a whole. But in the last courses, these concepts are literally thrown away, to start learning actuation algorithms that you will use in the Hospital.

A Doctor’s work is making decisions. Making decisions based in the scientific knowledge. That requires training and a lot of effort memorizing extensive protocols. Most of those decisions are made by measuring variables and parsing them into algorithms that were established by a scientific community related to that specific pathology. So yes, most of the medical decisions are just algorithms.

As a student, for me, the most exciting part of treating a patient is the diagnosis. They say diagnosis is half art and half science; the use of intuition and knowledge, to give a name to the diseases of the patient. But lets be honest. Intuition is not necessary at all. Intuition is the way we call to the process of matching signs & symptoms with the diseases we already know. Is the way we call to our internal computation. So if everything can be reduced to variables and algorithms, why aren’t computers making diagnostics ?

The human factor

Behind every decision there MUST be a human, because every case is particular and sometimes the diagnostic is no enough to determine the an actuation.

What’s the solution then ?

There is not an easy one. But trying to ease the public health system with computer based diagnosis could be one. Most of the diseases suffered by patients are easy to determine with very little variables. Embracing the use of automated machines to make those fast diagnostics could help the doctors in various ways.

  • Having more time to have a good relationship with the patient. (In Spain, visit lasts about 7 minutes each.)
  • Spending less time writing a medical record in a computer.
  • Doctors could have more free time to do more research.
  • Creating a DB with all the inputs easies a lot epidemiological studies.

Doctor’s should not be afraid of the incorporation of those technologies to their work, but the reality is that they are afraid of being supplanted by one of those machines. They don’t want to see that their skills & knowledge could be empowered by these tools.

Our occupation is one of the few that isn’t taking advantage of computer science.

Research is the future of the medicine, and a place where machines will not easily replace human.