Q&A with Dr. Robert M. Wachter

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Q&A with Dr. Robert M. Wachter

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | March 10, 2015
Dr. Robert M. Wachter
Robert M. Wachter has spent a tremendous amount of time studying the complex — and sometimes troubled — relationship between technology and health care. For him, finding the common ground between the deeply human essence of providing care, and the capabilities of big data to improve lives, creates a fascinating challenge.

At the 12th Annual World Health Care Congress, March 22nd - 25th in Washington, D.C., Dr. Wachter will share a panel with other industry thought leaders as they explore health IT from a variety of different perspectives.

DOTmed News recently spoke to him about what attendees can expect from that event, and how conducting research for his upcoming book, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, paved the way for his participation in the World Health Care Congress.

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DOTmed News: How did you become involved with the World Health Care Congress?

Robert M. Wachter:
In the process of writing my book I became quite interested in how technology was transforming the world of medicine, and I interviewed about 100 people ranging from national policy leaders to front-line physicians struggling with their computers.

The World Health Care Congress contacted me because they thought I would be a good candidate to moderate a session about health IT. Although I’m not a technological expert, having spent a year of my life diving deeply into the world of technology, I think I now know more parts of the elephant than virtually anybody.

DOTmed News: What topics will you be addressing in your session?

RMW:
There will be a few of us sharing different views on health IT.

John Niederhuber is a cancer surgeon and former head of the National Cancer Institute and now running a large genomics research innovation center. Bryce Williams is a CEO of a start-up focusing on wellness and use of data to improve health, and Victor Dzau is the president of the Institute of Medicine and formerly ran health affairs at Duke.

So, it’s a broad reaching panel, and my own bias here – the reason I got into this topic and wrote the book – is that I looked at the world of health technology and it strikes me that we’re in an extraordinarily interesting time.

Largely because of the $30 billion in federal incentives that have been doled out over the last four years, we have become a digital industry. Remarkably, until that time, most health care transactions were done with pen and paper, and fax machines and clipboards, and now 70 or so percent of hospitals and doctor’s offices are computerized.

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