Robert Wachter, MD

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Global Leader in Healthcare Safety, Quality, Policy, IT; Chair of the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Best-Selling Author, “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age”

Biography

The wired world of healthcare is our future. It’s up to us – as patients, physicians, policy makers, vendors, leaders and influencers – to not only make it happen, but make it work. Dr. Robert Wachter is helping champion the cause.

Named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 most influential physician executives in the U.S. for 2016 (9th year in a row) and one of the 100 most influential people in healthcare, Dr. Wachter is a recognized thought leader in healthcare quality, safety and organization of care. A practicing physician, he is intimately familiar with and involved in both the promises and challenges related to the computerization of healthcare. His latest book – “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age” (April 2015) – offers an unvarnished view of the early days of healthcare’s transformation (a so-far untold story), and an insightful and provocative exploration of what it will take, from all of us, to successfully shift from “disruption” to “disruptive innovation.”

Currently a professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where he directs the 60-physician Division of Hospital Medicine, Dr. Wachter coined the term “hospitalist” in 1996 and is generally regarded as the “father” of the hospitalist field, the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine.

A speaker and writer renowned for his iconoclastic and often humorous insights into the transforming world of healthcare, Dr. Wachter’s blog, www.wachtersworld.org, is one of the nation’s most popular healthcare blogs. He edits the U.S. government’s two leading websites on safety – the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s WebM&M and PSNet – and is the author of 250 articles and six books, including two best-sellers on the subject of safety and quality: “Understanding Patient Safety” (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012 – second edition), the field’s leading primer, and “Internal Bleeding” (Rugged Land, 2005).

Dr. Wachter is past president of the Society of Hospital Medicine (1999-2000) and past chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine (2012-2013). In 2004, he received the John M. Eisenberg Award, the nation’s top honor in patient safety. He is on the board of the Lucian Leape Institute of the National Patient Safety Foundation, and has also served on the healthcare advisory boards of several companies, including Google.

Robert Wachter is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Media

strategy+business logo

A Doctor’s Prescription: Data May Finally Be Good for Your Health

October 8, 2018

Wall Street Journal logo

How Tech Has Undermined—and May Now Save—the Doctor-Patient Relationship

April 29, 2018

Telemedicine Success Hinges on ‘Reimagining’ Healthcare

April 29, 2018

The Problem With Miracle Cancer Cures

April 19, 2018

Why Home Hospitals Are Not a Threat

April 18, 2018

3 Ways Health Care Can Unlock the Innovative Potential of EHRs

April 10, 2018

Harvard Business Review logo

To Combat Physician Burnout and Improve Care, Fix the Electronic Health Record

March 30, 2018

A Hospitalist’s View on Adapting Health Care to the Digital Revolution

March 14, 2018

UCSF's Robert Wachter Says Health IT Still Hasn't Realized Its Full Potential, But Promise is There

March 7, 2018

Healthcare IT News logo

'Digital Doctor' Robert Wachter Changes His Tune, Sees Real Progress in Digital Health

March 5, 2018

If Digital Health is the Future, the Future is Not Here. Yet.

January 29, 2018

Why Medicine's Digital Transformation is Just Beginning

January 24, 2018

How Doctors are Providing Smarter Care with Electronic Health Records

January 08, 2018

The HITECH Era – A Patient-Centered Perspective

October 10, 2017

EHRs Still Frustrate, But Their Potential Is Unfolding

May 11, 2017

Healthcare IT News logo

Doctors Demand Extreme EHR Makeover... Right Now

April 10, 2017

Modern Medicine Network logo

Why Have EHRs Failed to Deliver Their Promised Efficiency Benefits?

January 16, 2017

Healthcare Informatics logo

Healthcare's Digital Transformation: "We Haven't Seen Anything Yet"

December 6, 2016

Hospitals & Health Network logo

Radiology Field Poised for Even More Change

November 28, 2016

The Productivity Paradox

July 21, 2016

diane rehm show logo

Improving Doctor-Patient Communication In A Digital World

February 9, 2016

How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers

January 16, 2016

Hospitals & Health Network logo

12 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Health Care

September 28, 2015

The Best Health IT Book of 2015

September 1, 2015

Software Has Changed the World, But Here’s Why it Hasn’t Improved Healthcare

August 24, 2015

The Trouble With Health IT

July 16, 2015

Review: ‘The Digital Doctor’ by Robert Wachter Weighs Medicine’s Technological Transformation

May 25, 2015

Podcast: Diagnosing Digital Difficulties in Medicine

May 21, 2015

Digital Disruption Meets Healthcare: A Review Of 'The Digital Doctor'

May 13, 2015

Keep Calm and Interoperate On

May 3, 2015

Is Technology Making Our Doctors Better or Worse?

April 21, 2015

Podcast: The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age

April 15, 2015

Health IT: 'We Were Bound To Be Disappointed'

April 10, 2015

Wachter Not Afraid to Challenge Status Quo

April 4, 2015

The Contraindications of High Tech Medicine

March 30, 2015

Healthcare IT News logo

Q&A: Robert Wachter on Health IT's 'Hope, Hype and Harm'

March 25, 2015

Biography

The wired world of healthcare is our future. It’s up to us – as patients, physicians, policy makers, vendors, leaders and influencers – to not only make it happen, but make it work. Dr. Robert Wachter is helping champion the cause.

Named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 most influential physician executives in the U.S. for 2016 (9th year in a row) and one of the 100 most influential people in healthcare, Dr. Wachter is a recognized thought leader in healthcare quality, safety and organization of care. A practicing physician, he is intimately familiar with and involved in both the promises and challenges related to the computerization of healthcare. His latest book – “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age” (April 2015) – offers an unvarnished view of the early days of healthcare’s transformation (a so-far untold story), and an insightful and provocative exploration of what it will take, from all of us, to successfully shift from “disruption” to “disruptive innovation.”

Currently a professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where he directs the 60-physician Division of Hospital Medicine, Dr. Wachter coined the term “hospitalist” in 1996 and is generally regarded as the “father” of the hospitalist field, the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine.

A speaker and writer renowned for his iconoclastic and often humorous insights into the transforming world of healthcare, Dr. Wachter’s blog, www.wachtersworld.org, is one of the nation’s most popular healthcare blogs. He edits the U.S. government’s two leading websites on safety – the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s WebM&M and PSNet – and is the author of 250 articles and six books, including two best-sellers on the subject of safety and quality: “Understanding Patient Safety” (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012 – second edition), the field’s leading primer, and “Internal Bleeding” (Rugged Land, 2005).

Dr. Wachter is past president of the Society of Hospital Medicine (1999-2000) and past chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine (2012-2013). In 2004, he received the John M. Eisenberg Award, the nation’s top honor in patient safety. He is on the board of the Lucian Leape Institute of the National Patient Safety Foundation, and has also served on the healthcare advisory boards of several companies, including Google.

Robert Wachter is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age

Everyone had high hopes computers would be the magic bullet to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of healthcare. In the past five years – catalyzed by a $30 billion federal incentive program – medicine has finally, reluctantly, gone digital. Drawing from personal experiences and real-life case examples, Dr. Wachter explores some of the unforeseen consequences of information technology – including the movement to hire scribes so doctors and patients can look each other in the eye again, alert fatigue, and the tendency for clinicians to defer to a new kind of authority (an electronic one) – and discusses proposed solutions. He also touches on core issues in medicine, such as what it means to be a doctor – and patient – in the digital age, the theme of his rbook of the same title (April 2015).

The Quality, Safety and Value Movements: Why Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare Is No Longer Elective

If there’s one thing most people inside and outside of healthcare can agree on, it’s that the American healthcare system is broken and must be fixed. Dr. Wachter reviews the brief history of the quality and safety movements, the new push for “value” (quality + safety + patient satisfaction divided by cost), and how all of these levers (accreditation, regulation, transparency, payment changes) are combining to create unprecedented pressure on caregivers and delivery organizations to change their ways of doing business. But for all of the pain, there is also hope: attendees will gain a deep understanding of healthcare’s evolving landscape and a roadmap (and some optimism) for success in this new world.

If Every Instinct Healthcare Has Is Wrong, Then the Opposite Would Have to Be Right. Or Would It?

The title is a riff of a famous Seinfeld episode, one in which Jerry convinces his hapless friend George to try the opposite of his every instinct, but the topic has serious implications for physicians. In healthcare, physicians have been taught to be individualistic, to think about individual patients versus systems, to look outside their institution for answers, and not to consider resource allocation tradeoffs. Dr. Wachter talks about the imperative to move in new directions and provides some cautionary notes about what may be lost if the pendulum swings too far.

The Hospitalist Movement Two Decades Later: Key Issues for the Second Decade

Dr. Wachter coined the term “hospitalist” in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996. He describes the forces driving the growth of the field – the fastest-growing specialty in the history of medicine – and what’s to come. He also uses the case of hospitalists to discuss some key issues in healthcare innovation and change management.

Media

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Books & Research

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Recommendations

“I admit, I’m a Bob Wachter FAN!  I’m thinking of starting the Bob Wachter fan club.”

– Jona Raasch, President, The Governance Institute

“Bob – thank you once more for the excellent presentation/discussion this past weekend. Your topic and information fit in perfectly with the theme of the meeting and overall created an important message to our constituency. We worked you hard during the day and I really appreciate your willingness to interact in the various ways. The attendees thoroughly enjoyed having you around and being able to have proximity to your thought leadership.”

– Peter Angood, American Association for Physician Leadership

Advance Praise for “The Digital Doctor”

“Wachter’s intimate narrative left me entertained, amazed, alarmed at times, but always engrossed as I came to a new understanding of my own profession as it is reshaped by technology. Simply brilliant.”

–  Abraham Verghese, Professor, Stanford University, and Author of “Cutting for Stone”

“One of the best books I’ve ever read. Wachter’s warm humor and deep insights kept me turning the pages without interruption.”

– Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

“A much-needed study of the in-between moment where technology is making things worse because we just assumed that ‘adding it’ would make things better.”

– Sherry Turkle, MIT Professor and Author of “Alone Together”

“Only a person with the experience, depth, and judgment of Robert Wachter could take on the task of summarizing the impact of the digital age on the practice of medicine. But very few people who might have such experience, depth, and judgment would have pulled it off as well as he has…. It will be the talk of the town everywhere in the country, and beyond.”

– Paul Levy, former CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, blogging at “Not Running a Hospital”

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