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A great, great man has passed away – a man I quote in half my speeches. I was privileged to know him enough to feel grateful about it, and especially grateful to have been able to visit him a few times in his final weeks. It’s Warner Slack, the one who famously said in the 1970s that patients are the most underutilized resource in healthcare.
There’s so much to say about him, but I’ll mostly let others speak, partly because it’s hard to know what to add. Here are a few things.
One reason Warner stands out in the starscape of health technology visionaries is that very early on he saw not just the strengths but the limits of what computers would be able to do. Click to enlarge the Toledo Blade newspaper page from February 1968, at left, in which he said computers can help with the information but will never replace a good doctor – in fact, he said, “Any doctor who can be replaced with a machine should be replaced with a machine.”
Today some talk about computers and “artificial intelligence” in healthcare, and I use plenty of health related apps, but as technologically fancy as I like to be, I have no plans ever to stop using good doctors and nurses. Because information is one thing, and care is another thing entirely.
Go in peace, Warner. You used your gifts well.