Bob’s Bookings

I enjoy public speaking and give about 40 talks each year around the country, and the world. Wachter speaking picThese have included visiting professorships at major academic centers (including Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, Penn, Michigan, Mayo and Cleveland Clinics, and many more), keynote lectures for many hospitals and health systems (including Kaiser, HCA, Adventist, and scores of health system and hospital boards), keynote lectures to dozens of statewide safety coalitions, and a yearly keynote talk at the Society of Hospital Medicine’s annual meeting.

My talks tend to be engaging, provocative and, on a good day, humorous. My most popular topics/talks are:

1) “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age.” Everyone had high hopes that computers would be that magic bullet we’ve been desperate for to improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of healthcare. In the past 5 years – catalyzed by a $30 billion federal incentive program – medicine has finally, reluctantly, gone digital. Using a dramatic case in which a child received a 39-fold overdose of a common antibiotic, this talk explores some of the unforeseen consequences of information technology – including the movement to hire scribes so doctors and patients can look each other in the eye again, alert fatigue, and the tendency for clinicians to defer to a new kind of authority: an electronic one. It will also touch on core issues in medicine, such as what it means to be a doctor – and patient – in the digital age. The topic is the subject of my new book, to be published March, 2015.

 2) “The Quality, Safety, and Value Movements: Why Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare is No Longer Elective.” In this talk, I review the brief history of the quality and safety movements, the new push for “value” (quality + safety + patient satisfaction divided by cost), and how all of these levers (accreditation, regulation, transparency, payment changes) are combining to create unprecedented pressure on caregivers and delivery organizations to change their ways of doing business. Rather than being depressed, audiences leave with a deep understanding of healthcare’s new landscape, and a roadmap (and some optimism) for success in this new world.

 3) “If Every Instinct That Healthcare Has is Wrong, Then the Opposite Would Have to Be Right. Or Would It?” The title is a riff off a famous Seinfeld episode, one in which Jerry convinces his hapless friend George to try the opposite of his every instinct. In healthcare, physicians have been taught to be individualistic, to think about individual patients (vs. systems), to look outside their institution for answers, and to be unable to consider resource allocation tradeoffs. In this talk, I describe the imperative to move in new directions, but offer some cautionary notes about what may be lost if the pendulum swings too far.

4) “The Hospitalist Movement Two Decades Later: Key Issues for the Second Decade.” I coined the term “hospitalist” in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996. In this talk, I describe the forces driving the growth of the field, the fastest growing specialty in the history of medicine, and what’s to come. I also use the case of hospitalists to discuss some key issues in healthcare innovation and change management.

For my speaking, I am “handled” exclusively by Stern Speakers. Inquiries should be directed to Danny Stern, although it is fine to contact me directly as well for general information.