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Medical diagnostics suffering from the same thing as I.T. Consulting?

By Andrew Pollack on 04/11/2004 at 08:08 AM EDT

An article in the Houston Chronical on April 10th talks about how with medicine becoming so reliant on diagnostic tests and risk factors that doctors and specialists have become very interchangeable and much of the time diagnosis is made not based on a relationship with the patient but on risk factors and test results. As a result, the quality of care may be dropping. The author cites a huge percentage of cardiac cases with no history or risk factors. In his own anecdotal case, he was mis-diagnosed by his own health care providers and saved through a chance conversation with a friend who happened to be a cardiologist and though their relationship understood how the symptoms related to the person.

Am I the only one who sees a similarity in the world we (as small shop consultants) do in comparison to the large I.T. consultancies? I know that when several Penumbra members discuss an issue at one of our clients, each brings to the table as many questions about the type of environment as about the details of the problem. A great deal of problem diagnostics has to do with understanding the context in which the problem is found.

The large shops, the outsourced contractors half a world and 12 time zones away treat I.T. problems in a generic sense but they'll never offer the level of understanding a long standing local relationship can bring.

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Excellent analogy.By Ben Langhinrichs on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
Medicine as art...By Rob McDonagh on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
Agree. This has to do with the medicine as art vs medicine as science debate. I think that medicine *should* be a science, and it ultimately *will* be a science, but it certainly is *not* a science yet. There is too much that doctors don't understand about how the body works, and why it works one way for some people and a different way for other people. There is a school of thought among the medical community that believes the science is more advanced than it actually is. I know this because my wife's a doctor, and we've had this discussion many times. She wants medicine to remain an art, while I'm impatient for it to become a science. But we both agree that it's an art now, and will be for the foreseeable future. Now, when we get medical tri-corders a la Star Trek, we're talking medicine as science... At this point, medicine is like programming in that respect. There is a lot more creative thought required than most people expect from a 'technical' profession.

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