The Hypnosis of Diagnosis
Proper diagnosis is both art and science—a mix of careful listening, accumulated knowledge, pattern recognition, and instinct. There are some who are better at this than others, but all physicians receive extensive training in the skill before leaving medical school and residency.
Still, problems can arise when rare or misleading symptoms present, which is why a renewed movement to make technology serve diagnosis is underway. Unlike human beings, who may gravitate toward an “anchoring bias”—basically, locking into one conclusion and rejecting anything that doesn’t fit—computers can unemotionally analyze symptoms and list likely ailments as new information is discovered.
At stake here is more than the ego of the doctor. One diagnostic star recently put it:
“Getting better at diagnosis isn’t about figuring out if someone has one rare disease versus another. Getting better at diagnosis is as important to patient quality and safety as reducing medication errors, or eliminating wrong site surgery.”
Many of you know that I have spent considerable time and space on this blog talking about how the medical community can cut down on unwanted errors. I am proud to say that my own clinic has a far better track record than the national average, but even those of us with extensive training can benefit from some well-designed IT from time to time. Here’s the NYT:
Diagnostic mistakes account for about 15 percent of errors that result in harm to patients, according to the Institute of Medicine. Yet diagnostic software has been slow to make its way into clinical settings . . .
It’s time to change that, and to encourage surgeons, diagnosticians and all medical professionals to embrace any technology that can help us serve patients better. To learn more about sinus symptom diagnosis, please contact my LA sinus offices here.