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Abstract

In Cybermedicine: How Computing Empowers Doctors and Patients for Better Health Care, Dr. Warner V. Slack takes the reader on an interesting journey from the advent of experimental computer usage in the early 1960s, to comprehensive, hospital-wide computing systems in the 1980s, and into the future. As a professor of medicine and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-president of the Center for Clinical Computing and co-director of the Division for Clinical Computing at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Slack, who has been involved with computers in medicine for some thirty-five years, demonstrates how the use of computers can empower both doctor and patient. Doctors can be empowered by having more efficient tools with which to practice medicine; patients can be empowered by a greater ability to make informed medical decisions. The book is divided into three sections: Cybermedicine and the Patient, Cybermedicine and the Doctor, and Modern Times. In Cybermedicine and the patient, Dr. Slack emphasizes the need to keep patients informed. With computers, Dr. Slack was able to manage patient information more efficiently. Furthermore, he advocates a development of computer-administered interview programs that would be helpful to doctors in diagnosis and treatment in the "Cybermedicine and the Doctor section. But, there are barriers to this journey in the hospital administrators, hospital committee, the hospital computing systems and costs, as discussed in the Modern Times section. Dr. Slack concludes the book with his vision of medical care in the future. All medical services will move out of the hospital, which will disappear. Clinical havens of the future will be decentralized, small, conveniently located within residential areas, and staffed by skilled, humanistic clinicians who run the facility in consultation with a board of directors that includes patients and prospective patients.