Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Decision technologies and the independent professional: the future's challenge to learning and leadership
  1. Jack Dowie, professor
  1. Public Health and Policy Department, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine , London WC1E 7HT
  1. Professor J Dowie jack.dowie{at}


Most references to “leadership” and “learning” as sources of quality improvement in medical care reflect an implicit commitment to the decision technology of “clinical judgement”. All attempts to sustain this waning decision technology by clinical guidelines, care pathways, “evidence based practice”, problem based curricula, and other stratagems only increase the gap between what is expected of doctors in today's clinical situation and what is humanly possible, hence the morale, stress, and health problems they are increasingly experiencing. Clinical guidance programmes based on decision analysis represent the coming decision technology, and proactive adaptation will produce independent doctors who can deliver excellent evidence based and preference driven care while concentrating on the human aspects of the therapeutic relation, having been relieved of the unbearable burdens of knowledge and information processing currently laid on them. History is full of examples of the incumbents of dominant technologies preferring to die than to adapt, and medicine needs both learning and leadership if it is to avoid repeating this mistake.

  • decision technology
  • clinical guidance programmes
  • decision analysis

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.