A learning health care system using computer-aided diagnosis
Physicians intuitively apply pattern recognition when evaluating a patient. Rational diagnosis making requires that clinical patterns be put in the context of disease prior probability, yet physicians often exhibit flawed probabilistic reasoning. Difficulties in making a diagnosis are reflected in the high rates of deadly and costly diagnostic errors. Introduced 6 decades ago, computerized diagnosis support systems are still not widely used by internists. These systems cannot efficiently recognize patterns and are unable to consider the base rate of potential diagnoses. We review the limitations of current computer-aided diagnosis support systems. We then portray future diagnosis support systems and provide a conceptual framework for their development. We argue for capturing physician knowledge using a novel knowledge representation model of the clinical picture. This model (based on structured patient presentation patterns) holds not only symptoms and signs but also their temporal and semantic interrelations. We call for the collection of crowdsourced, automatically deidentified, structured patient patterns as means to support distributed knowledge accumulation and maintenance. In this approach, each structured patient pattern adds to a self-growing and -maintaining knowledge base, sharing the experience of physicians worldwide. Besides supporting diagnosis by relating the symptoms and signs with the final diagnosis recorded, the collective pattern map can also provide disease base-rate estimates and real-time surveillance for early detection of outbreaks. We explain how health care in resource-limited settings can benefit from using this approach and how it can be applied to provide feedback-rich medical education for both students and practitioners.