It is not an exaggeration to say that diabetes as a medical condition has reached epidemic levels in recent years. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the world suffers from the consequences of more than 400 million diabetics in different parts of the globe (I.D.F., 2017). There is a need to improve the treatment and care of diabetic patients. There is also a greater need to develop intervention strategies and mechanisms to predict and prevent the onset of the said dreaded disease. Due to the growing health threat, it is no longer practical to rely mainly on conventional treatment and management methods to prevent and cure the said medical condition. To win the battle against diabetes, it is important to consider the benefits of developing future technologies that are divided into the following technological categories: preventive, diagnostic, treatment, lifestyle management, and mitigation. In the end, the bottom line reveals the emergence of advanced systems based on robotics and nanotechnology that radically alter the healthcare delivery process. Thus, it is crucial to develop a guiding policy that effectively guides the implementation of advanced technologies while at the same time acknowledging the critical importance of humans as part of the healthcare delivery process.
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Keeping Human Functions Intact in Certain Aspects of Treatment and Management in the Context of Applying Future Technologies
In the year 2035, the emergence of cutting edge technologies will not diminish certain key functional areas that are currently being dominated by humans. Human beings must maintain certain critical roles when it comes to providing quality healthcare for patients suffering from diabetes. Humans comprising the group of healthcare workers and healthcare delivery experts must maintain functions that are grouped into three categories. First, humans are the source of technical innovations, the brains behind the future technologies that were described earlier (Tellspec, 2017). Second, humans are the final arbiters when it comes to interpreting the results of data acquisition and data analysis that were previously performed by computers, robots, and smart gadgets. In other words, they form the last line of decision-makers that may override the suggestion of computers if they feel that there is something wrong with the way the machine interpreted the incoming data. Third, people can provide the human element needed in treating and managing life-threatening illnesses, such as the ability to empathize, to assure anxious patients, and to ensure the effective dissemination of information regarding new medical procedures.
Based on the contributions and identified functions of humans in the future healthcare delivery process, it is important to retain all three functional areas: a source of innovation; final decision-makers when it comes to interpreting data from computers and smart gadgets; and ensuring the human element in the treatment process, because they are going to assure anxious patients and they are going to make them feel that there is someone that cares enough to make early recovery a major goal of the treatment process. With regards to the first functional area, there is a need for continuous improvements to create new designs and the effective deployment of the products and equipment described earlier. With regards to the second functional area, it is important to retain a human being’s ability to see the big picture and make sense of the whole process, the ability that computers and robots do not have, especially those programmed to perform specific tasks. Also, when it comes to the emotional and psychological needs of diabetic patients, these are the requirements that are beyond the capabilities of computers and robots.
Also, to satisfy certain human needs, it is difficult to imagine a world without nurses leading the way in the area of health education. Advanced technologies are useless if patients are not eager or feel safe to use them. It is the job of nurses to educate patients on the advantages of using the device and provide them with safety-related information. Furthermore, the implementation of advanced technologies requires informed consent. Consider, for instance, “predictive technologies” that are designed to read a person’s genes. In 2035, patients will be more sophisticated than those in 2017, and they will know more about gene mapping than the current generation of diabetics. They are going to know more about ethical considerations in handling DNA and similar genetic materials that are taken out of a patient’s body. Without a doubt, “predictive technologies” radically alter the nature of the battle against diabetes. On the other hand, it opens up the healthcare community to potential problems, especially if there is no framework in place to ensure the secrecy of genetic information collected through the use of new devices.
Guiding Policy Governing the Scope in Using Future Technologies
The application of advanced technologies requires six stages of implementation:
- the identification of conventional treatment methodologies that are inadequate and obsolete;
- educating healthcare specialists, support staff, and patients regarding the need to replace the old with the new;
- educating various stakeholders on the appropriate application of advanced technologies;
- monitoring and collecting feedback from stakeholders and key personnel;
- modifying the deployment or implementation process based on the feedback that came from various sources;
- providing a set of rules and guidelines on how to make necessary adjustments when cutting edge technologies will be integrated to replace the advanced technologies that are available in 2035.
Therefore, the administrator must prepare the organization to handle rapid changes in the area of technological innovation.
With regards to the first stage of the policy framework on how to properly deploy and implement future technologies, it is of critical importance to persuade doctors, nurses, patients, and support staff of the need to upgrade to new technologies. In some cases and concerning certain products and treatment methods, little persuasion is required. For example, these conventional methods rely on outdated technologies that merely allow for the treatment and management of the disease and not the ability to predict up to a certain level that a particular person has a high risk of developing diabetes.
As a result, the person prone to acquiring the dreaded health condition starts suffering from the consequences of the said medical problem without personal knowledge of having acquired the disease. One can argue that early diagnosis could have prevented some of the life-threatening consequences of this particular health issue. Aside from the inadequacies of conventional treatment strategies, the remaining outdated systems do not guarantee the patient’s safety and satisfaction levels, because according to the American Diabetes Association, the procedure known as pricking the diabetic’s finger to draw blood, and for the daily testing of blood sugar levels is one of the most painful aspects of the said medical condition (A.D.A., 2017). These ideas cover the first and second stages of the deployment policy.
When it comes to the third stage of implementation guidelines, it is not enough to list innovative solutions to diabetes-related issues. At this stage, the most critical requirement is to understand how these different types of technologies are going to work as one integrated system. Even if medical equipment companies can develop a painless way to analyze blood samples without the use of needles, the quest to improve the diabetes treatment and management procedure is halfway done. Aside from enhancing treatment methodologies, there is also a need to monitor the patient’s health after making a diagnosis or after the patient’s hospital discharge. Thus, these advanced technologies are not going to be applied in isolation, but in tandem. The first goal is to pinpoint individuals with predisposing factors, while the second is effective prevention. The next one is early detection. Finally, the last goal is efficient management to ensure early recovery.
The administrator in charge of drawing up an all-encompassing policy must create a plan that demonstrates how future technologies may affect the treatment and management of the symptoms, complications, and other health consequences of diabetes. Previous studies regarding the emergence of cutting-edge technologies related to diabetic treatment and care highlighted at least five major components comprising an effective treatment and prevention process, and these are listed as follows: predictive, diagnostic, treatment, monitoring, and management technologies for people suffering from diabetes. The policy calls for the use of “predictive technologies” similar to the one being developed by deCode genetics (Lyssenko & Laakso, 2017).
The newly developed policy also requires the availability of diagnostic technologies to form the second component in the constellation of treatment strategies associated with diabetes. A good example is Oxford University’s Oxford Medical Diagnostic Breath Ketone Device (Hall, 2017). Furthermore, implementing guidelines require the integration of advanced treatment technologies to form the third major component of the prescribed treatment and management procedures in tertiary health care facilities. One of the best examples is an inhalable insulin product known as Afrezza (Afrezza, 2017). The newly-minted policy framework also demands the inclusion of monitoring technologies to form the fourth critical component in the fight against diabetes. A good example of future technologies answering the need for better monitoring strategies is the Smart Contact Lenses and a similar device developed by Abbot Pharmaceuticals (Bertalan, 2017; “FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System,” 2017). These two devices are technological breakthroughs in terms of the ease of use and speed of data acquisitions.
Finally, the last component is made up of management technologies. Shortly, it will no longer be enough to diagnose, treat, and monitor diabetic patients. It will be imperative to have a system or mechanism in place that eliminates the need for frequent clinic visits. The future availability of the Diabetes Remote Care Management System or DRMS provides a solution to monitor patients without the need for face-to-face interaction with a nurse or a health professional (Fonseca, 2017). Also, it enables health workers to attend to more serious cases of diabetic-related complications and not drain resources attending to patients with minor issues.
An overview of the guiding policy reveals the need to make room for the integration of newer technologies that will replace those that are going to be available in 2035. Several years after the successful implementation of different technologies mentioned earlier, a new breed of predictive devices and monitoring systems will emerge featuring robotics and nanotechnology (DiSanto, Subramanian, & Gu, 2015). Thus, it is prudent to enhance the guiding policy to include the scope of using new technology. There is a potential problem linked to the overreliance on the computer and robotics-based system to handle all aspects of the healthcare delivery process. It must not come to that point. As discussed earlier, certain critical tasks and functions are best served when handled by humans and not machines.
Due to the need to limit the scope of technological application, the following guidelines are added. First, there is a need to maintain the strictest level of privacy. Second, the administrator must acknowledge the immense value of informed consent. Finally, the importance of mandatory follow-ups and the requirement of a second opinion must be stressed. The type of technologies described earlier offered the speed of access to the patient’s medical information, but without a clear framework to ensure the privacy of patients, this information can easily leak out and fall into the wrong hands. Also, it is vital to establish protocols that pave the way for informed consent. Patients must understand the scope and nature of the cutting-edge technologies that form part of the treatment process. Finally, they need to see a real doctor to get a second opinion and to comply with follow-up requirements. These steps ensure the safety of diabetic patients.
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Conclusion and Recommendations
In creating a policy that governs the scope in using future technologies, it is critically important to utilize the five components that makeup preventing and managing the consequences of diabetes. Therefore, technology plays a critical role when it comes to the early detection and prevention, effective diagnosis, effective treatment, accurate monitoring, and cost-efficient management of the disease. It has to be made clear that although robotics technology was included in the discussion on the management of diabetics that are far away from a tertiary healthcare facility, it is not prudent to simplify the contribution of robotics technology in terms of remote management of the said patients.
Robotics technology, when applied properly and incorporated into appropriate engineering design, can lead to the emergence of a multi-purpose device that handles all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of a diabetic’s healthcare needs. Therefore, the ultimate future technology is the application of robotics and nanotechnology as cost-efficient methods in early detection and continuous care. After describing the availability of cutting-edge technologies that were created to resolve current issues linked to diabetes, a process that utilizes the best available future technologies to address healthcare needs in the year 2035 was mapped out. It was revealed that robotics and nanotechnology will play a vital role. Robotics technology can pave the way for the emergence of a multi-purpose system or mechanism that answers all the requirements when it comes to the early detection, prevention, treatment, and remote management of the healthcare delivery needs of diabetic patients. Nevertheless, it is also important to retain key human functions to ensure safety, a faster recovery process, and more importantly to sustain the development of innovative products and solutions.
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DiSanto, R., Subramanian, V., & Gu, Z. (2015). Recent advances in nanotechnology for diabetes treatment. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine And Nanobiotechnology, 7(4), 548-564.
Fonseca, V. (2017). Diabetes remote care management system. Web.
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