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24th June 2021 Costi Levy (2019, Philosophy and Spanish)

Professor Andrew Farmer discusses digital technologies and healthcare with the prime minister of Bhutan, HE HPM Dr. Lotay Tshering

Over the last few months, Zhickenkar, the Centre for Bhutan and GMH Studies, has hosted a series of virtual seminars engaging Bhutanese and global experts in conversation about the use of AI and innovative solutions to support good governance. Their most viewed session so far has been a conversation about digital technology and healthcare between the prime minister of Bhutan, HE HPM Dr Lotay Tshering, present in his professional capacity as a doctor, and Professor Andrew Farmer.

Professor Andrew Farmer is a Fellow and Lecturer in Clinical Medicine at Exeter College. Following his medical training, he completed specialist training in the Oxford Deanery and then worked as a full-time general practitioner at Thame Health Centre. He subsequently completed a higher degree and moved to the Oxford University Department of Primary Health Care, funded through the award of an NHS R&D Senior Clinical Scientist Award. He joined Exeter in 2007 and has since divided his time between scientific research and teaching clinical medical students.

In 1991, when Professor Farmer was made a Harkness Fellow of the Commonwealth Fund of New York, Dr Lotay Tshering began studying for a medical degree at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He then studied Urology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, under a World Health Organisation fellowship, and returned to Bhutan as the only practicing trained urologist in the country. The health services in Bhutan are, like those of the UK, state funded. In their discussion, the two doctors explored the way their respective countries make use of technology to improve their services, and how we can further employ these kinds of tools to support medical advances.

The dialogue between the prime minister and Professor Farmer was very successful, and attracted an audience of over 654 people, including senior policy actors in Bhutan. Describing the seminar, the President of the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies writes, ‘we are confident that our viewers have been thoroughly informed and inspired about the role of AI in healthcare systems … thank you again for a truly enlightening and fruitful exchange’.

Watch the conversation between Dr. Lotay Tshering and Professor Andrew Farmer here.

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