Technological advances in healthcare are saving countless patients and continuously improving the quality of life. Advances in medical tech have had a massive impact on virtually all the practices and processes in healthcare. Even though technology offers remarkable benefits to both patients and practitioners, it also comes with its share of risks. In this post, you will learn the benefits and risks associated with advances in medical technology.
Benefits of Advances in Medical Tech
As with other aspects, technological advances in medicine are rapidly changing things that were done manually in the healthcare industry. As such, developments in medical tech have been a game-changer in the industry. Here are some of the benefits of technological advances in the healthcare industry.
1. Digitization of Health Records
Although paper-based data collection is still in use to some extent, the industry is switching to electronic storage which simplifies the creation of medical history records. The old, paper-based system required medical practitioners to create and complete files for patients often resulting in a long wait time to collect and update data. Apart from the actual digitization of basic patient information, technicians and nurses can input patient data like test results, weight and vital signs into the digital system.
Thus, technology is making it easy to update patient data as time progresses. As well, technology is positively influencing the healthcare administrative side since it provides a way to schedule appointments, update patient records with diagnostic codes and submit medical claims. Medical tech is making it easier to evaluate patients and offer effective treatments.
2. Safe Data Storage
Today, to combat online threats, advances in technology capitalize on the best practices for application security. For instance, cloud computing technology provides large storage at a low cost without additional hardware costs. As the healthcare industry increases its dependence on EHR systems, cloud storage safeguards against the loss of sensitive data through strong backups and recovery services.
3. Sensors and Wearable Tech
Often, people use wearable devices to track their fitness by measuring stats such as physical activity, heart rate and amount of sleep. In cardiology, wearable devices offer details about heart rhythm as well as the cardiac behavior of patients. Also, this technology helps provide practitioners with details such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels and breathing patterns. These innovations in healthcare continue to offer physicians opportunities for better diagnosis and enhanced quality of care to patients.
4. Artificial Intelligence
The application of artificial intelligence (AI) in patient-doctor conversations to record everything in a file saves doctors’ time taking notes. Also, the technology is decreasing the wait time in queues outside the doctor’s room.
As well, AI amplifies the expertise of doctors with extra layers of real-time data, which decreases errors and promotes precision. The most advanced technological advances are robot-assisted surgeries. These provide doctors with a clear view of the area they are operating on thanks to the high-precision robotic tools. The robots are helping reduce some risks during surgeries. Although robots will not be replacing doctors anytime soon, they are helping in decreasing complications, less noticeable scars and less blood loss.
Although Spectacular advances in medical tech have their advantages, they also pose risks. Below are some of the risks.
1. Centralized Data Point
Although having a central database for various data in health is very useful, over-relying on such a system may have serious repercussions in case of bandwidth or connectivity issues. However, the main issue with increased mobile use is data protection and security.
According to Fortune, in 2015, hackers breached the second-largest health insurance company in the US (Anthem) gaining access to close to 80 million customer and employee records. Although the breach only got access to names and addresses it raises concerns about what can occur at local clinics. Apparently, according to Reuters, patient medical records are worth more to hackers than credit cards. Stolen health records fetch upwards of $10 each, which is 10 to 20 times the value of a credit card number.
2. Faulty Devices
Sometimes technological devices may show the wrong patient condition to the doctor. These devices are created by programmers and engineers and sometimes have bugs that make them faulty. Thus, such devices may show the wrong result to the doctor leading to a wrong diagnosis of the patient’s condition. As such, it may then put the life of the patient in danger.
Medical technology is making treatment more expensive. Usually, all the treatments involving robot-aided surgeries are very expensive. This makes such treatment inaccessible to poor patients in rural areas. Of course, technology has increased health care but also it comes at a cost that sometimes is beyond the reach of patients.
4. Treatments Damaging Body Organs
Today, laser surgeries are becoming the norm in certain cases. However, this technology has harmful effects on the body. A laser can damage body cells and internal body organs in the body. Also, even though X-rays treat a host of ailments, it took long before doctors grasped the lethal effects of radiation poisoning. Also, excess oxygen in incubators has been a cause of blindness among many premature infants. Only in a few areas in medicine has the victory of technological advances been clear-cut. These include complications at childbirth, nutritional deficiencies, communicable diseases and certain infections. Even then, there are several gaps in applying the current knowledge.
5. Threat to Physical Wellbeing
Recently, a medical research scientist pointed out that genetic deterioration among humans is the price to pay for the humane use of medical knowledge. The struggle to survive during prehistoric times weeded out individuals with hereditary disabilities. However, today’s tremendous technological advances in medicine against infectious diseases are almost rendering susceptibility to disease-causing organisms a thing of the past. In the process, technology is preserving the genes of millions with congenital weaknesses across generations.
6. Substitution of New Health Hazards
Prosperous community support of medical facilities, perfecting of new devices and drugs as well as application of life-saving measures in today’s hospitals are all possible thanks to highly developed technical organizations. However, the rapid advances in technology are subjecting man to new stresses that may be as dangerous to his mental and physical well being as disease-bearers in prehistoric times. For instance, overcrowding in cities accentuated by population growth results in health hazards that did not exist in previous communities that lived in harmony with nature. A good example is stress in cities which is demanding more and more medical attention.