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The impact of technology on healthcare

Technology plays a massive part in our everyday lives. It is constantly evolving and introducing new developments into the world. This affects the way that we communicate, shop, travel and work, transforming the way that we interact and behave. With technology revolutions in transport, security, banking and healthcare, we all rely on technology in some way or another. There are a number of ways that the impact of technology on healthcare has changed the industry. Areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and information technology have enhanced the development of medical equipment and devices which has affected the populations all over the world.

Advancement of technology in healthcare

At Business Cover Expert, we work at living healthy lives so that our life insurance premiums are lower. It’s no doubt that the impact of technology on healthcare has changed a number of aspects of the industry. This includes the way that we have access to care, the information we have and the devices we can access it from. With new introductions such as adhesive bandages all the way up to artificial organs and robotic prosthetic limbs, technology is a making an impact on healthcare. Not only that, but modern technology and communication are changing the structure of organisations in the medical field.

So, what does the impact of technology on healthcare mean?

Is it a good thing?

Technology in the healthcare industry has definitely improved our quality of life and contributes billions to the economy. With more advanced technology it can change the medical field drastically worldwide.

Electronic communication

Converting medical records to an electronic system has allowed for major savings in costs and improved health and safety. It permits faster coordination and management as healthcare professionals can access data from tablets and smartphones instantaneously. It’s not only beneficial in treatment practices but enables organisations to engage with patients. Patients can be sent reminders for tests and vaccines as well as establish other means of contact with patients. Engagement with patients has increased too, with the availability of social media to answer patient questions, launching public awareness campaigns and reaching out to the community. It has also opened up the world of life insurance and private healthcare, with the ability to compare policies and prices. With the introduction of electronic communication in the medical field, customers become more informed. In addition to this, it speeds up the process and gives both patients and healthcare professionals faster access.

Advancements in equipment

The advancements in technology allow for new equipment to be created and implemented in surgery. Through new imaging technologies, non-invasive procedures can be utilised to diagnose patients. These minimally invasive surgeries can also provide a more accurate diagnosis for patients too.

Patient empowerment

With the use of the internet, people have the ability to explore treatment and medicines that are available worldwide. This gives patients the power to make informed decisions about what treatments they would like. With the use of medical, health and wellbeing apps and small devices, patients can stay healthier from their own homes without having to need medical care.

Advances in medical research

With advances in technology comes advances in research. In the medical field, this creates new procedures and the ability to diagnose, prevent and cure diseases as they can be examined on a cellular level. New medicines and teachings across the world help rural and under-developed areas, patients can be diagnosed without having to be moved to a better-equipped hospital and medical trends can be predicted such as flu outbreaks.

Economic benefits

It is well-known that a healthy society becomes a productive society which has a major impact on the economy. The Health and Safety Executive 2006, found that absence from work can cost the British economy around £12 billion annually.  It’s not only the impact of the workforce, but medical advances can bring in billions to the economy and technology has created widespread savings across the industry.

But can there be a negative impact of technology on healthcare?

With advancements and more information can come issues with data protection and over-reliance on technology. Whilst it has impacted healthcare in a number of ways, some of them have not had such a positive response.

The risk of misdiagnosis

With an infinite stream of information available online in the medical field, patients can misconstrue or misdiagnose what could be a small or simple illness. With more information, cheap and easy ways to avoid the doctor have emerged and illegal purchasing of medication online is easily accessible.

Data protection

Recently the NHS was hijacked by ransomware, with similar attacks across 150 countries. Access to medical files, appointments, blood tests etc. were all disrupted demonstrating the vulnerability of storing information solely through the use of technology. In addition to this, new regulations have had to be put in place to establish rules about confidentially of patient information. Maintaining patient privacy needs to be strongly considered in these instances.

Over-reliance and errors

Much like the downtime caused by the viral attack on the NHS. Any other system downtimes or power cuts can cause major disruption when technology is so crucial, particularly in emergency departments. Being over-reliant on technology within the medical field can be a major problem in the future.

Furthermore, dangers of errors in radiation therapy or prescriptions on medications can cause significant damage as well as the possibility of cross-contamination on medical equipment such as endoscopes.  Errors can occur with or without technology, so procedures need to put in place to minimise risk.

Is it economically viable in the longer term?

Sophisticated technology is expensive. Due to advances in medicine, people are living longer and therefore need access to healthcare for longer. However, in comparison, the working population generating income to pay for the healthcare has been reduced. In addition to this, constantly changing technology requires constant training and retraining which can be expensive and a slow process. Technology can place less value in human workers too, where processes are automated and fewer jobs are available. Moving forward into the future, would the increase in technology be economically viable with all of this in mind?

The overall impact of technology on healthcare

Technology innovations and advancements in the healthcare industry provide new ways to improve the quality of health worldwide. Through the implementation of new procedures, new medical research and better access to information, so far, the industry and patients are benefitting. Moving forward, we’d like to think this will still be the case. When risk can be minimized through appropriate procedures and better planning and policies in place, the overall impact of technology in healthcare could remain a positive one.