Johns Hopkins Medical student and History of Medicine Scholarly Concentration student Andrew Lea’s article entitled “Computerizing Diagnosis: Keeve Brodman and the Medical Data Screen” was chosen for publication in Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society in Volume 110, Number 2 June 2019 issue.
To view the article in full, visit https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/703922?af=R&mobileUi=0
Abstract: In 1947, the Cornell psychiatrist Keeve Brodman and a handful of colleagues began developing what would become one of the most widely used health questionnaires of its time—the Cornell Medical Index (CMI). A rigidly standardized form, the CMI presented 195 yes-no questions designed to capture the health status of “the total patient.” Over the following decades, Brodman’s project of standardizing medical history taking gradually evolved into a project of mathematizing and computerizing diagnosis: out of the CMI grew the Medical Data Screen (MDS), one of the first computerized methods of deriving diagnoses from patient data. This essay follows the life course of these tools through the second half of the twentieth century. It argues for a genealogy of biomedical computing and computerized diagnosis that takes more seriously the continuities between computer-based digital practices and paper-based analog ones. The computerized MDS evolved from, and rested upon, paper data practices associated with questionnaires and surveys. The interlocking histories of the CMI and the MDS prompt a reconsideration of the material and temporal parameters within which the history of computerized medicine has conventionally been understood.