One of the most frustrating things a doctor, or patient, can face is someone second-guessing a diagnosis.
The drama inherent in this is obvious. But what if it's a machine doing the second-guessing? To be more precise, a computer program named Isabel?
IsabelHealth, the company which makes this program, is currently trumpeting a USA Today article that reads like an ad for the system.
Here's the money quote, from Dr. Lawrence Weed, a professor emeritus at the University of Vermont:
"The mind can't possibly deal with the complexity of the problem that a patient presents," Weed says. "What if you said, 'Let's give (doctors) eight years of geography at Harvard and then let them to drive across the country without a map'?"
Ouch. There is something to be said for this. And at just $750 per hospital, with solid industry backing, an expert system like Isabel looks like the bargain of the decade.
UPDATE: Not such a bargain. The company writes its price is $75,000 for a 500-bed hospital per year and $60/month for each physician.
But what if insurers start trusting the software over the physician, using it to question a doctor's calls? What if doctors feel forced to follow Isabel's recommendations, knowing this to be true? What if lawyers start using Isabel diagnoses to file malpractice claims?
And who gets sued when the software makes a