Technology is quickly infiltrating almost every part of healthcare, creating a need for policymakers to examine the implications for patient safety, quality and the future of the U.S. healthcare system. To better understand health IT policy, leading health policy journal Health Affairs points to Robert Wachter’s New York Times Science bestseller, “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age” (McGraw Hill, 2015) as required reading, particularly for “those who will determine future federal policy related to the adoption and use of health IT.”
Dr. Robert Wachter approached writing “The Digital Doctor” not as a health IT expert, but as a practicing physician and academic leader with years of firsthand experience in medicine and hospital administration. Author of six books on patient safety and quality issues, “The Digital Doctor” is an extension of Wachter’s passionate, lifelong work improving healthcare quality, safety and value.
“Policymakers need to look at ways to improve the current system and decrease costs,” he says. “Technology shouldn’t – and can’t – be the answer to all of our problems. We need to start with the premise that our healthcare system delivers care that is too often unsafe, unreliable, and unaffordable, and then think about the levers we can push to deliver better care at lower costs. In this context, technology can be an enabler, a means to an end. But not the end.”
Wachter has a long track record as a thought leader. In a 1996 article, he coined the term “hospitalist,” a field that would go on to become the fastest growing medical specialty in modern medical history. He is a professor and interim chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, one of the top-rated departments in the country in research, education, and clinical care.
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