Daniel Susskind

Daniel Susskind is co-author of the best-selling book, The Future of the Professions, and a Fellow in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he teaches and researches.

Previously, he worked for the British Government -- in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, in the Policy Unit in 10 Downing Street, and as a Senior Policy Adviser at the Cabinet Office.

He was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University.

Information and communications technologies are playing an increasingly important role in healthcare delivery, while robots promise to revolutionise surgery and homecare. We speak to Daniel Susskind, author of The Future of the Professions, about what it means for health professionals and patients. How will technology impact healthcare workers? Daniel Susskind : We see two futures unfolding. The first is a future which many in the medical profession will find reassuring: it’s a more efficient version of what we have today. In this scenario, technologies help to streamline and optimise healthcare. This is already under way – doctors are using Skype to speak with patients and bringing online material into surgeries. Building on this will not radically change how people in healthcare work. The second future is one where technology – computers, robots and so on – actively displace the traditional roles of health professionals. For example, by diagnosing cancer, delivering treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, and using robots to replace or complement the work of carers. Which is more likely? Daniel Susskind : For now, we can see that both are happening but in the long run, the second future will dominate. Will robots replace doctors and nurses? Daniel Susskind : In the medium term, this is not a story of unemployment but of redeployment. We talk a lot about jobs – doctors and nurses – but that’s thinking about it at too high a level. It encourages us to think of what they do as indivisible lumps of work. Actually they perform lots of tasks and activities which change over time. Anecdotally, nurses’ tasks are very different today when compared with a generation ago. If you go back 25 years, it was more likely to be about bedpans and bedside conversation. Today, nurses can prescribe some medicines and perform...