Thoughts on the "Fundamental Theorem of Medical Informatics"

I’ve been doing some reading on what Charles Friedman calls “The fundamental theorem of medical informatics”. Basically, it goes as follows:

Corollary #1 (Person): The intelligent user’s personal knowledge and beliefs are at least as important as anything the technology does.

Corollary #2 (Technology): The technology must be able to tell the user something he/she does not already know.

Corollary #3 (Interaction): Something unpredictable happens when the two (i.e., people, technology) come together.

Fundamental Theorem of Medical Informatics: “Creating an environment of “supported practice” such that an intelligent person (e.g., practitioner) working in combination with information resources/technology is “better” than the person without such support.”

I think that on the whole, I support and agree with this “fundamental theorem”. But, I wonder if there is an implied understanding that this theorem is really only for health care practitioners and institutions in which they operate. I suppose that the term medical informatics pretty much describes the context.

I wonder: is there an underlying foundational “theorem” that drives ehealth? If so, is it different from Friedman’s fundamental theorem?

You can view a copy of Friedman’s presentation here.







2 responses to “Thoughts on the "Fundamental Theorem of Medical Informatics"”

  1. […] I couldn’t help but think about this theorem a bit during the day. Here are some of my […]

  2. […] Where the article totally loses me is this absolute belief that technology can solve our problems. I get the sense that the system designers feel as if the technology will be able to save lives by having information in electronic format, and poof! it will reduce errors and save lives. Okay, I’m being a bit harsh here, but my bias is that health interactions are much more complex than banking transactions. Technological determinism is not something that we should assume to be true. Perhaps this sentiment that technology is better stems from what Friedman articulates as the “Fundamental Theorem of Medical Informatics”. You can read an earlier post about my thoughts on the fundamental theorem of medical informatics here. […]