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Algorithms in Medicine: Where They Help … and Where They Don’t

Removing creativity, nuance, and insight from medicine may result in cheaper care but not better care

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his podcast discussion with anesthesiologist Richard Hurley in “Good and bad algorithms in the practice of medicine” (May 19, 2022). An algorithm is “a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation.” (Merriam–Webster) We most commonly think of algorithms in connection with computers because that is how programmers instruct them. Algorithms, Dr. Marks points out, can either sharpen or derail services, depending on their content. Before we get started: Note: Robert J. Marks, a Distinguished Professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering, Engineering at Baylor University, has a new book, coming out Non-Computable You (June,…