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Title Computer Processing of Medical Data by Variable-Field-Length Format: II. Progress and Application to Narrative Documents
Author(s) Julius Korein, MD; Albert L. Goodgold, MD; Clark T. Randt, MD
Source JAMA, Vol. 196, No. 11, Pages 132-138
Publication Date June 13, 1966
Abstract A routine method of preparation of narrative and numerical clinical medical data for computer input, storage, analysis, and retrieval has been achieved. The method utilizes the VFL format which allows dictated data to be produced in a form acceptable for computer input as a by-product of its collection by the physician. With adequate programs and computer systems, this technique is useful for hospital record-keeping and for clinical-research protocols. These programs will allow retrieval of specific information from summaries or reports either in their entirety or in selected parts, allowing for comparison of the incidence of one variable with another. In addition, if the data and questions are well defined, the narrative material may be statistically analyzed with a reliability and accuracy that approaches that of the physician, with the advantage of more rapidly processing larger amounts of data than was possible previously. Accomplishment to date in application of computer methods to processing of hospital-discharge summaries, radiology and electroencephalography reports, and clinical-research protocols demonstrates the feasibility of the techniques described in terms of time, effort, and money.

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