Accomplished Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla likens modern healthcare to witchcraft, and says technology will replace 80 percent of doctors.
His views, offered up in a talk last week in San Francisco, sparked outrage from doctors.
Khosla is a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and made his mark as one of the most successful investors during the Internet boom of the late 1990s with his backing of networking equipment companies.
He made the healthcare comments during the Health Innovation Summit, hosted by Rock Health, a seed accelerator company focused on health care. Khosla’s keynote talk is nicely summarized by Davis Liu, a doctor who attended the event.
In his comments, Khosla said that medical tradition has mired doctors in voodoo-like practices.
Khosla said that machines, driven by large data sets and computations power, not only would be cheaper, more accurate and objective, but better than the average doctor. To get there, the level of machine expertise would need to be in the 80th percentile of doctors’ expertise, he said.
And then Khosla slipped in some hyperbole: “Eventually, we won’t need the doctor,” he said, according to another report of the talk.
The audience reportedly went silent when Khosla challenged anyone to disagree with him. However, after the talk, critics reading about his talk took to comments at the bottom of Liu’s piece, and elsewhere, including Twitter. Columbia University-trained doctor Bijan Salehizadeh said he was “nauseated” by Khosla’s remarks.
Khosla also upset some doctors by saying that disruption in healthcare is likely to be driven by entrepreneurs outside of the industry, rather than by specialists within.