Since “two heads” is already taken and is about 500 years old, I’m going with an original saying, “three heads…” in honor of research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found that teams of physicians are more likely to make correct, complex diagnostic conclusions than are physicians working by themselves.
I could have told them that and saved a lot of time and money but I would have had to fake the statistics, like many researchers seem to do these days.
My teams at Bellamy and Watson love multidisciplinary meetings and are adept at offering biological/pharmacologic, psychological and social/environmental explanations and treatment approaches for all of our guests at weekly meetings.
They also love a good medical mystery, a suspicious symptom, a sneaky syndrome and with the internet at their fingertips, there’s no information too rare to elude their consideration anymore.
Then there’s Occam’s razor: when the symptom is three red fingertips, think magic marker from activities’ art project instead of vascular insufficiency. When the symptom is sudden change in gait and balance, think resident wearing someone else’s shoes before asking for an MRI of the brain…
The team model’s superiority also doesn’t surprise me, because the 3 or 6 or 9 heads approach also means the team is engaging in intuition, induction, deduction and abstract decision-making. The failure (so far) of the IBM oncology project, I think, is that creative thinking is still a human trait that computers can imitate but probably not duplicate.
Unlike trivia games which my wife and son can usually win against 15 teams of 4-10 people because Team Hopkins has annoying amounts of stored information and they induce, deduce and finish each other’s sentences in a span of seconds, medical diagnostics is even more data driven and rule in/rule out process-oriented.
Briefly, it’s not just an exercise in what you see, it’s what you don’t see and that’s where I’m sure the team can do what the individual simply can’t.
Geriatrics is a team sport and individual hot shots have to leave their egos in the employee break room. The team has to play well in the sandbox and share the toys, then wash their hands several times a day.
My teams practice William Osler’s advice that knowing the patient is better than knowing the disease. The nurses often “hear” pneumonia before the chest x-ray “sees” it.
Fascinoma is too many letters for scrabble but could win you a pair of Blue Moon beer mugs.