Dr. Thomas Nesbitt is emeritus associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances at UC Davis Health, where he was responsible for advancing the UC Davis Health System’s excellence in telemedicine. Toward that goal, he worked closely with leaders throughout the state in developing partnerships with regional hospitals, clinics and centers to expand access to quality health care and create a statewide broadband telehealth network. He also ensured that faculty and staff excelled at using innovative technologies to provide high-quality, state-of-the-art medical care.
A member of the UC Davis faculty since 1988, Nesbitt was a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine who specialized in rural health and using advanced telecommunications technologies to improve access to medical education and care. He has been a driving force behind a variety of innovative programs that address the unique health-care and educational needs of diverse populations of patients and physicians, particularly in rural Northern California.
As founding director of the Center for Health and Technology, for instance, Nesbitt oversaw UC Davis’s telemedicine, distance learning and medical informatics programs. A key focus of the center is assuring interaction among physicians, educators, information technology and communications specialists, engineers, and researchers. The multidisciplinary collaboratives he established are responsible for leveraging new telecommunications technologies to improve access to high-quality patient care, information resources and medical education opportunities.
Nesbitt also worked closely with UC Office of the President, health care policy leaders and senior staff from the state of California to implement Proposition 1D and the California Telehealth Network. The proposition, passed by California voters in November 2006, directs $200 million in building and equipment funds to the University of California to expand medical education with an emphasis on telemedicine. As co-director of the California Telehealth Network, funded by the Rural Healthcare Division of the Federal Communications Commission, Nesbitt oversaw the deployment of a statewide telecommunications program that will link over 800 sites on a “digital health highway.” Together, these initiatives will greatly expand access to health care services for many patients and families in rural regions of the state.
Nesbitt served two terms on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and, more recently, on the Joint Advisory Committee on Communications Capabilities of Emergency Medical and Public Health Care Facilities reporting to the U.S. Congress 911 Commission to examine opportunities to utilize telecommunications to support the needs of national security.
Nesbitt received his medical degree from UC Davis, completed his residency training through the Spokane Family Medicine Residency Program — an affiliate of the University of Washington School of Medicine — and obtained his master’s degree in public health at the University of Washington. He has co-authored more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on telemedicine. Nesbitt received the 2010 Leadership Award for the Advancement of Telemedicine from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) in recognition of his vigorous efforts to expand health care access and education through the use of telecommunications technology. Nesbitt earlier was awarded the ATA’s 2006 President’s Award that recognized the breadth, depth and effectiveness of telemedicine programs and services offered at the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology. In 2009, he was recognized by the UC Davis School of Medicine Alumni Association with its Transformational Leadership Award. In 1997, Nesbitt received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UC Davis; the year prior, he was presented with UC Davis’ Distinguished Public Service Award. Nesbitt received the California Family Physician of the Year award in 1993 and, in 1992, was honored with the Best Research Study Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.