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Computers and the Future of Medical Practice

Daniel J. Essin, MD; Stephen N. Steen, ScD, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(12):2171-2172. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360120039004.
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Technology abounds in medicine today as it has in the past. It may be said that medicine is mankind's most concerted attempt to make beneficial use of the technology of the day. Although examples can be cited that extend back into the archaeological record, some of the most dramatic examples have occurred within the last century. One of the earliest applications of ionizing radiation was in medical imaging. Physicians made use of telephone exchanges long before the telephone was in widespread general use. The automobile was readily adopted as a faster means of making emergency visits than the horse and buggy. Additional dramatic examples are to be found in pharmaceutical chemistry, laser surgery, computed tomography, and nuclear magnetic resonance scanning, to name but a few.

There is one area of medical practice that has been virtually untouched by technology and remains much as it did a century ago. That area


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