Author: Thomas Balzer



    Healthcare and computers are growing more and more linked as the years go by. Digital record keeping, systems embedded into people, and computerized monitoring methods are just a few examples of the proliferation of computing into healthcare. Typically this relationship between computers and healthcare is called Health Informatics. This relationship manifests itself in a variety of ways; most significantly computers are used to monitor patients vitals signs and store medical records. One important aspect of informatics is getting different medical establishments to adopt a standardized recording method. Another large area of research is in expanding a computers role in healthcare along with optimizing the existing systems. 


    One of the major sources of computerization in medical fields is is regards to patient records. Historically each patient has a file that is updated regularly as situations develop. When you whated to know something specific about that patient you had to pore throught the handwritten records to find what you needed. Now there are Electronic Medical Record systems that keep everything consolidated digitally in order to simplify the process. As simple as this may seem, only approximately 20 percent of medical institutions currently have at least a rudimentary system of electronic record keeping. More join as years go by, however.

Data mining

    When all of the data that doctors have about a patient are digitized they are much easier to analyze for clues. This is where computer science algorithms that search through articles becomes much more important in the process. Many roads open up regarding disease hypotheses and accuracy, as demonstrated by IBM's Watson.


    IBM has done some revolutionary work in the field of data mining and its relationship to healthcare. Teams designed a computing system named Watson to play the famous television game show Jeopardy and applied all of the techniques to healthcare applications. They foresee systems that accept queries describing symptoms, along with a digital health record. In response Watson would collect data about family history, similar cases and all relevant journals and return diagnoses ranked from most likely to least likely. Such a system is hoped to reduce the 1.5 million mistreatments in the United States per year. 

IBM Videos regarding Watson:

Works Cited

"Putting Watson to Work."  International Business Machines Corporation.  n.d.  Web. 2012.  <>.

Litherland, Neal.  "How Are Computers Used in Healthcare?" Demand Media Inc.  n.d. Web. 2012. <>.

"What is Healthcare Informatics?"  Wisegeek.  Conjecture Corporation.  n.d. Web. 2012.  <>.