A Book for a Change

The CLAHRC WM Director finds himself on an expert working group established to advise the Secretary of State for Health – Jeremy Hunt – on future strategy for Information Technology in the English NHS. The group is chaired by a famous American Physician and West Coast Professor, Bob Wachter. Word has it that the said Wachter was identified as a candidate to chair the working group on the basis of his recent book – ‘The Digital Doctor’.[1] So the CLAHRC WM Director thought he had better read it. It arrived in the post today and we shall report on it further in due course. But a quick glance at the first few chapters indicate that it is extremely well-written and researched. News Blog readers will know that the CLAHRC WM Director is obsessed with the doctor-patient relationship [2] [3] – the basis for the whole of medical practice. Wachter says that health care was slow to computerise, but there have been recent examples of a rush to make up for lost time on both sides of the Atlantic. And in this haste the precious doctor-patient relationship has been side-lined. Indeed, the possibility that this could happen was studied formally by the CLAHRC WM Director no less than three decades ago.[4] It now appears to be happening on an epic scale. But we can’t go back – like the great white shark, we must keep moving forward to find the best way to use technology. Sometimes paper may be best, as discussed in a previous blog. Anyway, the CLAHRC WM Director shall keep reading and report back to you. In the meantime, consider ordering a copy for yourself.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Wachter R. The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. 2015.
  2. Lilford RJ. Two Ideas of what it is to be a Doctor. CLAHRC WM News Blog. 14 August 2015.
  3. Lilford RJ. A Standardised Patient’s Story. CLAHRC WM News Blog. 18 December 2015.
  4. Brownbridge G, Lilford RJ, Tindale-Biscoe S. Use of a computer to take booking histories in a hospital antenatal clinic. Acceptability to midwives and patients and effects on the midwife-patient interaction. Med Care. 1988; 26(5): 474-87.

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