Computers and Health Care

  • Bruce I. Blum


The history of medical computing has been closely tied to the growing capability of computers. In general, there has been a lag of 5 years between a technical advance in the computer field and its use in medical computing. It is convenient, therefore, to divide computer development into phases by decade and medical applications into 10-year phases that span the decades. By following this convention, it is possible to describe the state-of-the-art in medical computing in the context of the computer technology available to support it. It is also possible to project—based on current trends in computer technology—what the next phase of medical computing may bring.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


For Further Reading

  1. There is a growing number of books that deal with what we have chosen to call Medical Informatics. B. Jacobson and J. G. Webster have assembled a useful text in Medical and Clinical Engineering, Prentice Hall, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. As the title suggests, it is more concerned with the application of engineering than the use of computers. J. D. Brenzino has produced a thorough survey in Computer Applications for Patient Care, Addison-Wesley, 1982.Google Scholar
  3. This contains chapters on materials not included in this text such as the clinical laboratory, automated multiphasic health testing, diagnostic support systems, patient monitoring, and medical imaging. Several of the classic books are now out of print and somewhat dated. An excellent modern introduction to the field is D. A. B. Lindberg, The Growth of Medical Information Systems in the United States, Lexington Books, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. A text with a European viewpoint is F. Wingert, Medical Informatics, Springer-Verlag, 1979.Google Scholar
  5. Artech House has prepared two good collections of reprints: V. Sondak, H. Schwartz and N. Sondak (eds), Computers and Medicine (1979)Google Scholar
  6. N. Sondak and F. Kavaler, Computers in Medical Administration (1980) (which includes more than its title suggests). Springer-Verlag has a Computers in Medicine series which also includes reprints.Google Scholar
  7. The first volumes are B. I. Blum (ed), Information Systems for Patient Care (1984)Google Scholar
  8. J. A. Reggia and S. Tuhrim (eds) Computer-Assisted Medical Decision Making (2 volumes, 1985).Google Scholar
  9. P. Szolovits has edited a volume called Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, Westview Press, 1982.Google Scholar
  10. W. Clancey and E. Shortliffe have also edited a collection called Readings in Medical Artificial Intelligence: the First Decade, Addison-Wesley, 1984.Google Scholar
  11. The September 1979 issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE was devoted to Technology and Health Care; it contains a fine collection of papers on that topic. For office practice systems there is B. B. Oberst and R. A. Reid (eds), Computer Applications to Private Office Practice, Springer-Verlag, 1984.Google Scholar
  12. Among the texts in process which I have not seen are An Introduction to Medical Information Science, edited by E. Shortliffe, G. Weiderhold, and L. Fagan on medical informatics and an introductory outline of the field by D. Levenson, Computers in Clinical Medicine: An Overview, MacMillan, 1985.Google Scholar
  13. For persons interested in clinical information systems, there are two annual U.S. meetings of interest. One key source is the Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care (SCAMC) which holds an East coast meeting in October or November. The proceedings are a rich source of current work. The American Assocation for Medical Systems and Informatics (AAMSI) is a membership organization with a principal interest in this field. They hold an annual West coast Congress each May; there also are proceedings. The major international meeting is MEDINFO. It is triennial and last met in 1983.Google Scholar
  14. Few journals are devoted to clinical information systems. Indeed, much of the literature is diffused throughout the medical journals. This makes the identification of works somewhat difficult and also leads to articles of varying technical quality. The bibliography for Chapters 7, 8 and 9 includes many of the most common sources.Google Scholar


  1. 1.
    Adopted from materials provided by R. E. Miller, personal communication.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lincoln, T. L., Computers in the Clinical Laboratory: What We Have Learned, Med. Instr. 12:233–236, 1978.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cormack, A. M., Early CAT Scanning and Recent Developments, MEDINFO 80, North-Holland, 1980 ix–xii.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Meindl, J. D., Biomedical Implantable Microelectronics, Science 210 (17 October 1980) 263–267.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Adopted from C.D. Flagle, Evaluation of Health Care Systems in M. F. Driggs (ed), Problem-Directed and Medical Information Systems, Year Book Med. Pub., 1973, pp. 187–194.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Drazen, E. L., Methods for Evaluating Costs of Automated Hospital Information Systems, in B. I. Blum (ed) Information Systems for Patient Care, Springer-Verlag 1984 427–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nelson, E. C. and B. Bise, Evaluation of a Computerized Billing System for Small Primary Care Practices, Proc. Sixth Annual Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care, 1982 p 467.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Horowitz, G. L. and H. L. Bleich, PaperChase: A Computer Program to Search the Medical Literature, NE. J.Med. 1981 305:924–930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Reggia, J. A., T. P. Pula, T. R. Price, and B. J. Perricone, Towards an Intelligent Textbook of Neurology, Proc. Fourth Annual Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care 1980 190–198, reprinted in J. A. Reggia and S. Tuhrim (eds), Computer-Assisted Medical Decision Making Vol. II, Springer-Verlag, 1985.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bernstein, L. M., E. R. Siegel, and C. M. Goldstein, The Hepatitis Knowledge Base—A Prototype Information Transfer System, Ann Internal Med, 1980 93: (Part 2) 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    From Gevarter, W. B., An Overview of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Vol. I — Artificial Intelligence, NASA Technical Memorandum 85836, 1983 p4.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Van Bemmel, J., The Structure of Medical Informatics, Medical Informatics 1984 9(3). This special issue of Medical Informatics is devoted to the proceedings of a workshop on a Framework for Medical Information Science.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Shortliffe, E. H., The Science of Biomedical Computing, J. Anderson, F. Gremy, A. Levy and J. C. Pages (eds), Information Science and Medical Education, North Holland, 1984. Reprinted in Medical Informatics 1984 9(3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce I. Blum
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Physics LaboratoryThe Johns Hopkins UniversityLaurelUSA

Personalised recommendations