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From "Farm Boy" to Director of the Laboratory of Computer Science: 2004 Interview of G. Octo Barnett
Although he described himself humbly as “just a country doctor,” Dr. G. Octo Barnett altered the course of the practice of medicine when he suggested, in the 1950s, “We ought to try using timesharing computer systems to improve medical care.”
JOAN ASH AND DEAN SITTIG
OCTOBER 29, 2004
Octo Barnett, MD served as the Senior Scientific Director of the Laboratory of Computer Science (LCS) —a medical and bioinformatics research and development group at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) —and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Barnett pioneered the use of computers in patient care. His work with computers in medicine fostered innovative projects including DXplain®, Primary Care Office Insite (PCOI), Pulmonary Artery Catheter Waveform
Interpretation Tool (PACath), COSTAR (a comprehensive and widely used ambulatory medical record system), MUMPS (Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System, now known as Multi-User Multi-Programming System), and computer-aided graduate nursing and medical education systems.
In 1996, he was the third recipient of the Morris F. Collen Award of Excellence.
Dr. Barnett studied mathematics, computer science, and chemistry at Vanderbilt University. He earned his MD from Harvard Medical School and completed his residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Dr. Barnett and his wife, Sarah, also raised three sons: John, Andrew, and Robert.