A US ‘digital doctor’ has said he believes the world is about to enter ‘a golden era’ of health IT which will lead to better care for patients.

Speaking at the openEHR 2020 digital event on November 24, Robert Wachter, a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, gave his view on ‘healthcare’s digital revolution’.

Wachter is a known figure in NHS IT after he led a 2016 review into how the health service can harness the power of technology in order to improve care.

The author gave a keynote which included looking at what lies ahead in terms of healthcare IT.

“I think we are going to enter a golden era where healthcare is going to be better, safer and less expensive and more satisfying, ultimately for not only patients, but clinicians as well,” Wachter said.

“But that is utterly dependant on getting a whole lot of things right that we have not got right so far, including moving effectively into an era where we take advantage of the EHR but we are no longer dependent on them and we enter a post-EHR era.”

Another part of Wachter’s keynote was “several easy predictions and a hard one”. The easy predictions included the notion that “health IT will, ultimately, transform health and healthcare” but the hardest to predict is when.

“I have no idea when, not next year, but maybe five years, maybe ten years – but probably not longer than that,” Wachter added.

Other speakers at the event, which was hosted by Digital Health, also included Ian McNicoll, a board member openEHR International and Tomaz Gornik, chief executive of Better and co-chair of openEHR International.

Gornik spoke about how “data is for life” while “applications come and go”.

In a summary slide he also said that he believes “architecture for the future will have a vendor-neutral data layer at the centre, used by all apps, applications and algorithms”.

In recent years, openEHR solutions – with a multivendor ecosystem of applications based on open data – have been addressing the needs of healthcare professionals successfully. Several cases of openEHR approach have shown numerous benefits in practice.

This in mind, McNicoll said he is firmly “convinced that health IT needs to be fundamentally ‘rewired’ around the kind of life-long patient-centric record ecosystem that openEHR supports”.