Computers in Clinical Instrumentation
The modern digital computer has had a dramatic impact on the capabilities of clinical instrumentation, both in new abilities to measure and in improved techniques. These advances should result in better medicine and in improved health care at lower cost to the public. This chapter presents a brief review of the history of the digital computer and develops some fundamental concepts, so that the uses, limitations, and future trends of digital computers in clinical instrumentation can be better understood. The architecture of the digital computer of today is based on the stored program concepts of John von Neumann. This architecture, with many subtle variations, is basic to all modern digital computers. The digital computer is a machine that can perform simple operations on numbers according to a list of stored instructions called a program. The chapter outlines the important application considerations when using a processor in an electronic instrument.