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Modern healthcare technological advances have had a profound impact on the quality of healthcare. This includes breakthroughs in areas like biotechnology, molecular diagnostics, and diagnostic imaging surgical techniques, among others.
Advancement in medical technology has been caused by several factors including the demand by consumers for better health, presence of health insurance systems that pay for new technological advancements, and the desire by medical experts to provide thebest treatment to their patients, due to competition with other professionals. This discussion looks at the impact that medical technological advances have had on how people perceive healthcare matters.
Information Technology and Healthcare
Today, health care is heavily reliant on information technology. Health information technology has brought about various benefits including advanced quality of patient care, less paper work, efficientadministration, less medical expenses, avoiding medical blunders, improvingaccess to medical care, better monitoring of the management of chronic diseases, detecting communicable disease epidemics timely, among others.
All in all there has been a streamlined treatment flow for the patients and efficient and peak performance for the doctors (Anon 10).
Health care facilities use technological devices in the management of health care information to help them in making decisions. Examplesof modern health care technologies include electronic prescribing systems like computerized physician order entry systems, electronic medical records system and clinical decision support system.These help to avoid errors in prescriptions and assist physicians to track disease management and referrals.
Healthcare dispensing technologies include automated dispensing machines, bar-coding at medication dispensing and robot for medication dispensing, which prevent drug errors.
Administration technologies include bar-coding at medication administration and electronic medication administration records. These technologies help to avoid any medical errors and injuries that would have occurred while using manual systems (Sneddon 8).
Electronic health care records provide access to information about patients and help to monitor their progress. A Computerized Provider Order Entry system will assist in making laboratory orders, discharges, referrals, transfers and procedures.
Clinical Decision Support systems provide physicianswith information about what diagnostic and treatment procedures they should undertake for various ailments,while a Picture Archiving and Communications system brings together, stores and circulates images from devices like x-rays and computer tomography scans.
On the other hand, Radio Frequency Identification technology helps in keeping track of the patients’progress and medication via a wireless system of communication. Bar-coding helps in matching medication to patients using bar codes on the drugs and bracelets on patients’ arms (Sneddon 10).
There are various wireless devices that have greatly impacted on healthcare, for instance, wireless devices that collect information and send it to a person’s mobile phone. These encourage people to embrace physical fitness by using various wireless scales to computeinformation on an individual’sexercising activities. They also provide information about the number of calories in the food that someone is about to take.
Other devices also monitor sleep and provide information about the length and various varieties of sleep. There are also bands worn on the wrist that monitor the skin conductance response and they give information about an individual’s emotional state of mind and stress levels. The individual can then send that information to social networks, and this encourages people to do more exercises, sleep better and reduce weight.
Thereis also a wireless sensor that monitors and keeps diabetics updated about the levels of glucose in their blood through the skin. The device also provides information about how the patient’s physical activity or eating habits affect the regulation of glucose in the body.
Sensors are also used in measuring an individual’s blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and the rate of respiration.There are also devices for scanning a fetus or the heart and sending the images wirelessly to a specialist for immediate analysis and interpretation of the problem. These technological advances have greatly impacted on healthcare as they have made it possible to perform continuous, remote and concurrent monitoring of patients, especially those with chronic conditions(Topol par 3).
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Health technological devices have helped to improve access to healthcare and healthcare information and have also increased the speed of diagnosing and treating diseases.Telemedicine has helped to create a connection between the patients and the doctors, as patients get to communicate with their physicians through the internet about their diagnoses, progress and response to treatmentand this enables them to get more comprehensive healthcare.
For instance, the progress of diabetics can be closely monitored if they send information about the glucose levels in the blood to their doctors on a daily basis. Weight loss experts can also monitor the weight loss progress of their patients daily. This technology saves on time and expenses that would be incurred by a patient making a trip to the hospital.
Robotic surgery is another technological advancement in healthcare whereby robots help surgeons in performing operations on patients. Robotic surgeries are very effective and are less invasive, therefore the patient recovers faster andthe operation leaves fewer scars on the skin. This type of surgery is especially suitable for operations like hysterectomy (removing of the uterus), prostate cancer, and heart surgeries.
New technology has greatly changed the treatment and prevention of some diseases. For instance, better technologies like beta-blockers and ACE inhibitorshave been developed for use in diagnosing, treatment, and management of heart diseases and this has reduced the number of deaths caused by heart attack.
The treatment and care of babies born prematurely has also improved, thanks to technological advancement in healthcare. Technological devices like special ventilators, steroids, artificial pulmonary surfactant and neonatal intensive carehave helped to reduce the deaths of pre-term babies(Shi,Leiyu, and Singh 42).
The internet has helped in providing a wealth of healthcare information to people, and this has enabled them to make informed healthcare decisions. On the internet people can also find comparative information regarding various healthcare providers and this helps them to choose the one that offers the best services.
There has been development of assistive technology, whichentails the use of devices to enabledisabled people to be more productive, self-reliant, and have confidence. There are many types of assistive technologies, but computers have provided the most possibilities for people with various disabilities likeimpairment of speech, the blind, those who cannot use their hands, among others.
The solutions that computers offer to people with various impairments include touch screens, speech synthesizers, Braille displays and embossers, voice recognition, alternate keyboards, pointing and typing aids, joysticks, trackballs, optical pointing devices, keyboard modifications, screen readers, talking word processors, large print word processors, among others.
Assistive technology has greatly helped people with disabilities by elevating their confidence, making them independent, and giving them a positive outlook towards life (Kelker par 7).
New medical technologies either increase or decrease the cost of treatment;therefore patients can make decisions about treatment options based on the cost.
Despite the great improvement in healthcare that technological advancement has brought about, it has also brought concerns and suspicion among the public about the effect of modernity on their health. For instance, some patients are unwilling to be put under medication or to use it for a long time for fear of ingesting bad chemicals. There has also been an upsurge in the taking of herbal treatments by the public.
The public is now more concerned about personal health and most people are exercising more often to stay fit. The media has also facilitated the rise in people’s worries about the dangers posed by technological advancements by writing exaggerated health articles about the negative health implications brought about by some harmless activities like traveling by air.
The internet has also become a favorite channel for transmitting medical scares. People post unfounded information on the internet and this makes the public even more skeptical about technological advancement. There are also concerns when new treatment technologies are introduced as people are not sure whether they will work or not (Eaton and Kennedy 16).
From the above discussion, it is evident that advancement in medical technology has brought about numerous benefits to the public,including improving the overall status of healthcare and also in saving many lives. Before the advent of medical technology, medical operations were done manually and were therefore prone to many errors.
Some treatments were also done slowly due to lack of efficient equipment, and as a result many lives were lost.However many people are yet to fully embrace the benefits of technology as they look at technological advancement with suspicion. People are concerned about the challenges that may be posed by technological advancement.
Anon.“Technology Can Improve Health Care.”The New York Times27 March2010: Print.
Eaton, Margaret, and Kennedy Donald.Innovation in Medical Technology: Ethical Issues and Challenges.USA: John Hopkins University press, 2007. Print
Kelker, Katharin.“Family Guide to Assistive Technology,”pluk, 1997. Web.
Shi,Leiyu, and Singh Douglas.Essentials of the U.S. Health Care System.New York:Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2010. Print
Sneddon, Robert. Medical Technology. London: Evans Brothers, 2008. Print
Topol, Eric. “The Future Of Healthcare: Information Technology.”modernhealthcare, 2011. Web.<https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20110725/SUPPLEMENT/110729989/the-future-of-healthcare-information-technology>