Computer Assisted Medicine

Photo courtesy of Washington Post Nov 5, 2015

Photo courtesy of Washington Post Nov 5, 2015

Why is a healthcare leader writing about the weather, again?

Simple, because I want to discuss my own experience and interpretation with IBM Watson during my vacation in Florida and Hurricane Matthew and its implications to Healthcare.

According to the data, the historical indicators, and the predictive modeling the initial projection of Hurricane Matthew was that it was going to miss the coast of Florida.

I noticed that the weather channel also sent reporters to the southern islands where the hurricane was striking. At first I thought this was to have first hand accounts. However, what I realized is that the weather modeling needs feet on the streets to be able to provide additional inputs to update the models.


Because hurricanes are an act of nature. As much as we want to believe that natures acts a specific way, takes a specific course, and that we can effectively predict its patterns….the reality is that nature is not always predictable.

Nature doesn’t follow rules.

Many times the best we can do is inform on possible paths, but not actually predict the entire course.

The question to healthcare is do we believe that we can truly predict the best possible course of care, the best treatment, in order to get the best outcome?

People do not always follow the rules. People are not always predictive or rational. People still have a lizard brain which at times forces us to do things that we shouldn’t do because of our instinctual flight or fight response.

I agree that the math makes sense:

Genome + Zip Code + SDOH = Precision Medicine

However, as much as we all want to focus on the technology, the artificial intelligence, the cloud, the data, the analytics, and the promise of being predictive we need to first remember that this all begins and ends with people.

People as patients do not always act in a predictable, rational, or rule based manner.

Many times due to physicians, clinicians, nurses, technical staff, and front line workers dismissing a patients feelings of anxiety or stress it leads to unpredictable actions.

At times because we do not pause to take the time to understand and listen to a patients problem it leads them to leave and do something that doesn’t help them get the care or follow up they really need or want.

Technology is sexy. Technology enables our ability to connect faster, quicker, and more cheaply than ever before in history.

Yet technology only follows the rules.

In a enterprise whose product is people, in this case healthcare, technology will enable the world of computer assisted medicine.

The technology will know the rules, but it is the physicians, clinicians, nurses, and technical staff that will recognize the anomalies, the outliers, and the exceptions of our patients.

The future of healthcare is a transition to computer assisted medicine. Technology will enable the people working inside of healthcare to have more time, to build more meaningful connections with patients, and to provide the attention needed to build trust.

The future of healthcare is performed by people enabled by technology to deliver care at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek


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