Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Offshoring work for medical diagnosis

A Wall Street Journal blog article headline states: India is benign for radiologists. It turns out that:

... reading such images relies heavily on what the two economists call “tacit knowledge.” Pattern-recognition software, which could make the work routine, doesn’t work very well in identifying malignancies and other problems,

The paper the blog refers to, was of course, talking about clinical diagnosis but one step removed from this is medical image analysis. Studies usually require databases (some very large) of subjects/cohorts who fit a common description. We might be quite far from full automatic diagnosis, but tasks can be broken down and piecemeal solutions can cetainly be outsourced. (I've been tempted more than once to go this route with the data I use or would use if only I could process them all.)

Suppose we want to build a database of twin brains or multiple sclerosis brains or whatever. Some of the tasks that are routine and could be outsourced are: registering the brains to a common template, segmenting specific sections of anatomy, representing the data in a certain way (in a representation space). Now with close supervision someone with basic training could easily do this. So the problem might be that there are not enough people who can supervise such work. And the people who can have not thought of setting up shop in India. Big pharma is interested in such studies so it could be a lucrative outsourcing venture if someone could put it all together.

No comments: