Designing computer-based frameworks that facilitate doctor-patient collaboration

Bruce G. Buchanan, Giuseppe Carenini, Vibhu O. Mittal, Johanna D. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A current trend in medicine involves establishing collaborative problem solving between patients and physicians in order to involve patients more in their own care. Neither diagnosis nor therapy can be completely successful unless the patient and the doctor understand each other and collaborate with each other in an effort to gauge the other's requests, needs and concerns. This is made even more difficult by the fact that there is often a big difference between the doctors and patients in terms of expectations, vocabulary used, and other factors. For diagnosis of many disorders, a detailed description of the problem and of the patient's history are required. For therapy, patients must understand how and when to take prescribed drugs, what changes to make in diet, exercise, or lifestyle—and why they are important. This paper describes a model of asynchronous collaboration between people with very different knowledge of medicine in which a computer framework attempts to mediate between patients and physicians and reduce some of the differences in communication. It allows patients to pace themselves in familiarizing themselves with the relevant domain terms, some of the medical factors underlying the conditions under question, and the justifications and implications of the prescribed treatment plan. It also allows physicians to request more information of patients and gives patients contextual information to help them understand the underlying reasons for the questions. This framework has been partially implemented in the domain of migraines. As described in the paper, not only is the system designed to cooperate with the patient, but using the system also results in better mutual understanding between the doctor and the patient, thus leading to better collaboration between them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-191
Number of pages23
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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