Can Computers Replace Doctors?

They are already reading Pap smears:

Pap-screening computer, the BD FocalPoint GS Imaging System, is a marvel of medical engineering. The machine’s image-searching software rapidly scans slides in search of more than 100 visual signs of abnormal cells. It then ranks the slides according to the likelihood they contain disease, and it identifies 10 areas on each slide for a human to scrutinize…. In one study, doctors and technicians working without the robot detected 79.2 percent of abnormal slides; with the robot, 85.8 percent of abnormal slides were found…  Working manually, a cytotechnologist can analyze about 80 to 90 slides a day (regulations set the maximum at 100 per day). Using the FocalPoint, a human examiner can go through 170 slides per day.

And there is more:

In addition to Pap tests, computers are now routinely used by radiologists to analyze mammograms, and a range of similar technologies could upend the way pathologists and radiologists screen for many other ailments. So far, machines have proved useful in detecting abnormalities on images of the colon, the chest, and coronary arteries, and they may soon help doctors analyze prostate and breast biopsies.

Full Slate article here. HT: Ezra

Comments (8)

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  1. Brian Williams. says:

    I’m sure Apple is developing an app for this and everything else.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Computers will never replace doctors. But they can (if allowed) improve doctor’s efficiency and free up doctors for more important tasks by boosting number of tasks mid-level providers can perform.

  3. Virginia says:

    This reminds me of the problems associated with TSA security screenings. If your only job is to look for a rare hidden knife or bomb, you’ll become fatigued of looking at the same things over and over again. Eventually, you’ll begin missing dangerous items because of this.

    (Anyone remember what that’s called? The name of the problem escapes me.)

    In any case, that problem can be completely overcome if you teach a computer what to look for. Then the issue is teaching the computer to pick up on every occurrence of the event.

  4. Bruce says:

    The answer to your question is: probably not.

  5. Buster says:

    Why not? Google replaced many of the calls, and questions I would ask my doctor if I could actually get him on the phone.

  6. PolicyBuff1987 says:

    Is there anyone in America for whom computers are not an acceptable replacement?

  7. Brian says:

    I agree that computers cannot replace doctors, but they should be a useful aid for them and hopefully lead to a lower number of cases of misdiagnosis.

  8. winoceros says:

    Yeah, but, but, this new efficiency will put radiologists and lab techs out of work, and make way for lower paid robot-factory-line-workers!! Viva la revolucion!!!//sarc off