Friday, March 13, 2009

IBM's "Google Earth for the Body"

IBM has a new interface idea for the medical record: a humanoid avatar. It's a 3D image of a human body, with the patient's data linked to the various body parts. Users click on the heart to get cardiac reports, the kidney to see renal information, etc. They tried it out in a Danish hospital and report good results.

On the face of it (actually, the pictures I saw had no face), its a really cool technology, bit its hard to see what problem its solving. Do doctors and nurses need that level of help organizing information? In my experience, anatomic thinking is not where we fall down. How can this technology help us see the systems and connections among the organs? The out-of-body factors (environment and interpersonal relationships) and microscopic forces (genes and proteins) that drive so much of health don't have an obvious place in this model.

One potential upside: it could be a great way to educate patients about their health.

What do you think about using this technology to improve care?

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