The Digital Doctor

Hope, hype, and harm at the dawn of medicine's computer age
May 31, 2015
author |
Robert Wachter
year published |
2015

Book summary from the publisher:

While modern medicine produces miracles, it also delivers care that is too often unsafe, unreliable, unsatisfying, and impossibly expensive. For the past few decades, technology has been touted as the cure for all of healthcare’s ills.

But medicine stubbornly resisted computerization, until now. Over the past five years, thanks largely to billions of dollars in federal incentives, healthcare has finally gone digital.

Yet once clinicians started using computers to actually deliver care, it dawned on them that something was deeply wrong.

Why were doctors no longer making eye contact with their patients? How could one of America’s leading hospitals give a teenager a 39 fold overdose of a common antibiotic, despite a state of the art computerized prescribing system?

How could a recruiting ad for physicians tout the absence of an electronic medical record as a major selling point? Logically enough, we’ve pinned the problems on clunky software, flawed implementations, and absurd regulations. It was all of those things, but it was also something far more complicated, and more interesting.

Written with a rare combination of compelling stories and hard hitting analysis by one of the United States’ most thoughtful physicians, The Digital Doctor examines healthcare at the dawn of its computer age. It tackles hard questions, from how technology is changing care at the bedside to whether government intervention has been useful or destructive — with clarity, insight, humor, and compassion.