There are several promising breakthroughs that have been made in the health care sector in the past decade. These promising breakthroughs have emerged due to the influence of information technology in this field. The main goal of these improvements in health care is to enhance the possibility of prolonging and improving people's lives amid the rise in the occurrences of diseases. Some of the recent developments that have emerged from the impact of technology include HPV vaccine, drug-eluting stents, human genome mapping, targeted cancer therapy, and natural orifice surgery.
As technological advancements have had a considerable impact on the health care field, they have resulted in the development and emergence of the medical technology concept. The concept of medical technology is described as the advancements in the equipments, processes, and procedures with which health care or medical services are delivered. The major technological changes that contribute to medical technology are the new surgical and medical procedures, medical devices, new support systems, and drugs.
Examples of technological advancements in these areas include joint replacements, angioplasty, biologic agents, implantable defibrillators, CT scanners, telemedicine, and electronic medical records. The importance of technology on health care sector and services is evident from the fact that very few aspects in the field of medicine do not use some kind medical technology from new advances ("Changes in Medical Technology," 2007).
Technological Advancements and Life Expectancy:
According to the findings of a research conducted by the Center for Disease Control, there has been a solid increase in life expectancy in America's population since the beginning of the 20th Century. In early 1900s the average life expectancy at birth for the American population was about 47 years, a figure that increased significantly to more than 68 years by mid 1900s. Due to the recent medical advances, the average life expectancy in the United States had increased to approximately 78 years by 2005.
This recent increase in life expectancy is attributed to previous developments in medical science and technology in the past three decades. Some of the developments that have contributed to the increase include the identification and use of penicillin to treat life-threatening infections and the discovery of a vaccine for polio. In addition to this, the first successful organ transplant is also another factor that has contributed to improvement of life expectancy in the past few years.
How Technological Advances have Affected Health Care Delivery:
As previously mentioned, advances in the information technology field has had a major positive impact on the health care sector and services in attempts to prolong and improve life. These improvements in the health care sector can be attributed to the influence of these technological developments on health care delivery. Technology has affected health care delivery and services through various ways including & #8230;
Improving Health Care Access:
One of the major ways with which technological advancements have affected the delivery of health care services is through improving health care access. The improvements in health care access have been coupled by the increase in the average life expectancy at birth of populations. Health care access has been improved by technology as advances in medical science and technology have resulted in the rise of insurance companies as mediators between doctors and patients.
During the early 1900s, the basic state of medical technology necessitated the need for patients to be treated at homes with negligible medical expenses. Consequently, patients could incur huge losses in wages that were four times more than the actual costs associated with the treatment of the diseases. Many households were forced to buy sickness insurance that were similar to the current disability insurance in efforts to provide income during an illness.
At a time when medicine began to be increasingly accepted as a science because of developments in medical technology and standardized licensing requirements, many people started to move from rural areas to urban centers. The migration to urban centers contributed to the establishment of hospitals as centers for treatment and the encouragement of the sick to visit physicians and hospitals regularly. As more and more treatment centers were developed and patients continued to visit hospitals and physicians regularly, health care costs started to increase because of the demand for huge treatment costs (Hoskins, 2009).
Medical advances have improved access to health care services as patients and physicians as well as other workers in the health care field can access health care information easily. Moreover, patients can easily visit physicians at treatment centers or even receive medical services at the respective locations. As a result of easy access to health care information and services, technological improvements have enhanced access to health care delivery.
New Treatment Procedures:
The other way with which technology has influenced the delivery of health care services is through the development of new treatment procedures for various diseases. New technology in the medical field has transformed the treatment and prevention of heart diseases and their consequences over time. Several procedures and drugs have been introduced in cardiac care units such as lidocaine that is used to manage irregular heartbeats and coronary artery bypass surgery. In early 2000s, better tests for diagnosing heart attacks or cardiac arrests were introduced for the long-term management of potential cardiac arrest patients. Secondly, advances in medical technology have facilitated the effective treatment of pre-term babies that couldn't be done in 1950. Some of the procedures that are used to treat pre-term babies due to advances in medical technology include neonatal intensive care, special ventilators, and artificial pulmonary surfactant.
Health Care Spending and Costs:
Technological advancements in the health care sector have had a major effect on health care costs and spending. Even though a specific new technology can increase or decrease health care spending, analysts generally agree that these developments contribute to the overall increase in health care spending and costs. New technology in health care affects its costs through the development of new treatments for life-threatening situations, enabling the treatment of the past untreatable acute conditions, and continual improvements in current capacities. These advances also affect health care costs through the identification of new procedures for discovering and treating secondary diseases and the growth of the indications for a treatment over time.
The possibility of a specific new technology to either increase or decrease health care spending and costs is dependent on various factors. Some of these factors include its impact on the treatment cost of an individual patient, the level of use attained by the technology, and the temporal aspects of the new technology. However, assessing the impact of new technology on health care spending and costs can be a complicated process because of the continual innovations in this sector and the inter-relation of various changes.
Health Care Documentation:
The major impact of technological changes in health care is on health care documentation, especially with the emergence of Healthcare Information Systems and Electronic Health Records. Advances in medical technology have resulted in numerous changes in clinical documentation that are being adopted across the health care sector. One of the major methods with which these advances have affected clinical documentation is through the development of electronic health records. Unlike paper records, electronic health records facilitate the storage of patient information electronically, which has a huge impact on the outcomes of care services on the patient.
As a result of these developments, the country is moving towards a real interoperable health information exchange infrastructure in the health care sectors. The infrastructure will help in converting the widespread paper-based information system into an electronic method that allows patient information to be safely exchanged between various health enterprises. Generally, electronic health records affect health care delivery through their impact on the amount of time spent in direct patient care activities by physicians (Campbell et. al, n.d.).
Health Information Technology:
Medical technology has affected the delivery of health care services through the emergence of Health Information Technology. With the growth in the community demand for quality care services and the increase in health care costs, much attention has been directed on the possibility of health information technology to lower health care spending. Health information technology is also seen as a platform with which the quality, efficiency, and safety of clinical care can be improved. Health information technology can be described as the wide range of technologies that are used in managing and sharing patient information through electronic methods rather than paperwork. These technologies include the use of health information systems, electronic health record systems, clinical decision support systems, and computerized provider order entry systems.
The increased focus on health information technology is largely attributed to the fact that the provision of safe and effective care services has continued to be a major challenge to clinicians given the increased attention on the extent of medical error. The need to improve safety and consistency in patient care has contributed to the significant investments in the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines. Health Information Technology has been regarded as an…