Intended for healthcare professionals


Warner Slack: “Patients are the most underused resource”

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 23 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3194
  1. Dave deBronkart, BMJ Patient Panel member, chair emeritus1,
  2. Daniel Z Sands, chair, assistant clinical professor of medicine12
  1. 1Society for Participatory Medicine
  2. 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Warner Slack, the visionary physician who wrote that the patient is the “largest and least utilised resource in healthcare,”1 died from pulmonary fibrosis on 23 June at the age of 85. Accolades have come in from scores of people who, like the authors, benefitted from his wisdom and generous mentoring.

Slack foresaw, with remarkable clarity, both the extent and the limitations of what computers could contribute to medicine. His 1997 book Cybermedicine: How Computing Empowers Doctors and Patients for Better Care2 encapsulated his steadfast belief that information technology, “implemented wisely and well,” can empower both physicians and patients.


Technology was a lifelong aspect of Slack’s work. In 1966 he created software to take a patient’s medical history, saving physician time and improving accuracy. In the 1970s, Slack and Howard Bleich created the Center for Clinical Computing (CCC) at Harvard Medical School, now Division of Clinical …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription