CCHSR Lecture Discusses Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age

Jon Sussex, Dr Robert Wachter, and Mary Dixon-Woods

Robert Wachter, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, delivered this year’s Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research Annual Lecture. As UK hospitals move into a new era of information technology, the lecture focused on why we need it and how to get it right, drawing on experiences from the US.

Wachter spoke about two ‘truly transformational’ forces that can be seen in healthcare today: requirements for value in the delivery of healthcare and digitisation. And it is the second of these, he predicts, that will be the biggest drive of change in 10 years’ time. The path towards digitisation has been rapid but not straightforward in the US, he explained. Among the unintended consequences and pitfalls have been profound changes in communication patterns and doctor-patient relationships and startling burnout rates among physician. Ending on an optimistic note, Wachter outlined his recommendations for England’s National Health Service’s digital strategy.

Dr Wachter recently chaired a commission advising the Department of Health and NHS England on its digital strategy. His 2015 book, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, was a New York Times science bestseller and for the past nine years, Modern Healthcare magazine has ranked him one of the most influential physician-executives in the US.

Audio of the lecture is available on request. Please contact for more information.


CCHSR is a collaboration between RAND Europe and the University of Cambridge that informs policymaking through evidence based research on health services.