Robert M. Wachter, M.D.
Robert M. Wachter, MD is professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); in 2021, the department was ranked the best in the nation by US News & World Report.
Wachter is author of 300 articles and 6 books, including the New York Times science bestseller, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age. He coined the term “hospitalist” in 1996 and is often considered the “father” of the hospitalist field, the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine. He is past president of the Society of Hospital Medicine, past chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.
In 2015, Modern Healthcare magazine ranked him as the most influential physician-executive in the U.S. In 2020-22, his tweets on Covid-19 were viewed more than 400 million times by 260,000 followers and served as a trusted source of information on the clinical, public health, and policy issues surrounding the pandemic.
He has made scores of media appearances, including on Fresh Air, All Things Considered, the Rachel Maddow Show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, and Pod Save America, and has been quoted hundreds of times in publications that include the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and the New York Times. He has advised many companies on their digital strategy, including Google and Teladoc. With his leadership roles in academia, hospital medicine, quality and patient safety, digital health, and Covid, Wachter is often sought after for his dynamic, thoughtful, accessible, and humorous takes on healthcare’s current state and its future opportunities and challenges.
Healthcare’s Digital Revolution: (Finally) A Time for Optimism
The U.S. healthcare system has gone digital over the past decade. While there have been important improvements in quality and safety, many observers have been struck by the number of unintended consequences, ranging from increasing rates of physician burnout to new kinds of medical mistakes. This talk highlights why the digital transformation of healthcare has been so challenging, and why several changes in policy, technology and culture create room for optimism. Related reading: Wachter RM. "The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age." New York: McGraw-Hill, 2015. Wachter RM, Howell MD. Resolving the Productivity Paradox of Health Information Technology: A Time for Optimism. JAMA 2018; 320:25-26. Emanuel EJ, Wachter RM. Artificial Intelligence in Health Care: Will the Value Match the Hype? JAMA. 2019 Jun 18;321(23):2281-2282.
COVID-19 and the Transformation of the Healthcare System: Which Changes Will Outlast the Pandemic?
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a tragedy for millions of patients and had a disastrous impact on the economy, both generally and in healthcare. It has tested healthcare institutions and leaders like nothing in generations. Yet, like all shocks to the system, it has also created opportunities for transformation. In this talk, Dr. Bob Wachter – an international thought leader in quality, safety, digital transformation, and Covid itself – will describe the impact of Covid on healthcare, highlighting both the major challenges it presents as well as some unprecedented opportunities it creates.
ChatGPT and Other Large Language Models of AI: Gamechanger or Just More Digital Hype?
The power of ChatGPT and similar large learning models is both breathtaking and scary. But will this technological advance trigger the long-awaited digital transformation of healthcare? Or will it be yet another technology whose unanticipated consequences lead to consternation and disappointment. Dr. Robert Wachter, Chair of Medicine at UCSF and author of the bestseller, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, turns his optimistic yet balanced lens to describe how ChatGPT may play out in healthcare… for better and worse.
Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: The Real, and Surprising, Opportunities and Challenges Ahead
Artificial intelligence in healthcare is squarely in its hype phase – with hopes that massive improvements in AI technology, digital health records, and the entry of the world’s digital giants and billions of dollars in venture capital funding will lead to healthcare’s long-awaited digital disruption. Drawing on lessons from the bumpy first decade of healthcare’s digital journey, Dr. Robert Wachter, author of the bestselling book, The Digital Doctor, highlights the opportunities and challenges as healthcare moves from the electronic health record-era of digitization to one in which AI leads to major changes in clinical practice. While the commonly discussed challenges ("black box," AI promoting biases, "garbage in-garbage out," privacy and security) are very real, the talk focuses on even harder and more interesting problems, including the effect of automation on the skill level of clinicians, the need to reorganize the healthcare delivery system to take advantage of AI and mobile technologies, and the "Tesla problem." He also discusses the politics and economics of AI in healthcare, which may prove to be a far greater determinant of success than any technical issue.