Internist-1, an experimental computer-based diagnostic consultant for general internal medicine

N Engl J Med. 1982 Aug 19;307(8):468-76. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198208193070803.


Internist-I is an experimental computer program capable of making multiple and complete diagnoses in internal medicine. It differs from most other programs for computer-assisted diagnosis in the generality of its approach and the size and diversity of its knowledge base. To document the strengths and weaknesses of the program we performed a systematic evaluation of the capabilities of INTERNIST-I. Its performance on a series of 19 clinicopathological exercises (Case Records of the Massachusetts General Hospital) published in the Journal appeared qualitatively similar to that of the hospital clinicians but inferior to that of the case discussants. The evaluation demonstrated that the present form of the program is not sufficiently reliable for clinical applications. Specific deficiencies that must be overcome include the program's inability to reason anatomically or temporally, its inability to construct differential diagnoses spanning multiple areas, its occasional attribution of findings to improper causes, and its inability to explain its "thinking".

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / standards*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine*