A review of medical education and medical informatics

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Physicians have considerable difficulty collecting and interpreting information from patients, dealing with the uncertainties associated with diagnosing and treating their patients, communicating precisely with one another, keeping up to date, and applying recommended procedures when indicated. Some of the advances in information technology may help physicians to manage information more effectively through more accessible, validated clinical indexes, data bases of diagnostic test characteristics, computerized audits of clinical activities with feedback, expert systems, on-line access to the medical literature, and other tools of medical informatics. Medical educators can catalyze this process by facilitating the introduction of information technology into academic clinical settings so that students can learn its use first-hand and by promoting the evolution of this and other aspects of medical informatics, a new discipline dedicated to the solution of information problems in health care. The potential roles for computer-aided instruction and centralized computer laboratories in medical schools are much less clear.

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