Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Data, data everywhere

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 04 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f725
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. [email protected]

A news story ran just after I was accepted to university. Scientists were testing a computer that made clinical diagnoses, and it was predicted that doctors would be replaced by robots within the decade. It never happened, though many now joke that doctors have indeed been replaced by mindless robots and just follow flowcharts of care. Medicine is complex, and experience teaches us that blind adherence to any clinical guideline or algorithm always ends in tears.

Today’s technological leap is “big …

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