Bates Center Seminar Series – The Anywhere Clinic: Presence, Absence, and the Limits of Telehealth

 Jeremy Greene, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Date and Time: Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 4:00pm EST, virtual via BlueJeans

Abstract: Few of us have not been affected by the sudden expansion of telehealth in the past year, which ballooned into mainstream clinical practice over the past year and a half as a technological patch laid over the holes in healthcare access caused by the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet even though telehealth may feel like a useful if uncomfortably new medium to practitioners or patients today, the theory and practice of this “medicine at a distance” were laid out more than five decades ago. This talk traces the history of telehealth back to its origins in a series of demonstration projects supported by the United States federal government in the 1960s and 1970s that promised to use the technologies of closed-circuit television to combat racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic disparities in access to medical care. The successes and failures of these programs sheds light on why we continue to seek technological solutions for the structural failings of our healthcare systems, even as it remains far from clear whether these technologies erase or further entrench existing health disparities.

Bio: Jeremy A. Greene, M.D., Ph.D., is William H. Welch Professor of Medicine and the History of Medicine and Director of the Department of the History of Medicine and the Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His research focuses on the interaction between medical technologies, medical knowledge, and the practice of clinical care. His most recent book, Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicines, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Greene’s first book, Prescribing by Numbers: Drugs and the Definition of Disease, was awarded the Rachel Carson Prize by the Society for the Social Studies of Science and the Edward Kremers Prize by the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy. In addition to published broadly about the history of disease in scholarly journals, Dr. Greene has published widely in clinical and public health journals including JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, the American Journal of Public Health, and Health Affairs, and for popular audiences such as the Washington Post, Slate, Forbes, The Atlantic, and The Boston Review, as well as broader public engagement via interviews on NPR, television news, and documentaries. Dr. Greene received an MD and a PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University in 2005, finished a residency in Internal Medicine at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in 2008, is board certified in Internal Medicine and a member of the American College of Physicians, and continues to practice primary care medicine in a community health center in East Baltimore. His current book project, The Anywhere Clinic: How Health Became Electronic is supported by grants from the National Library of Medicine, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation.

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