The impacts of technology traverse all aspects of our human life; from transportation, education, banking, communication and most essentially, healthcare. The effectiveness of health care, over time, has been argued to be a precipitate of efficient technology, research, and better practices. The introduction of mainframe computers in the 60s helped hospitals in their management and accounting departments. The 70s saw smaller computers that increased networking between departments, therefore, saving practitioners time. In the 80s, the computer became much smaller to be owned personally, had increased connectivity and had applications that suited the medical practitioners’ workspace. Presently, computers can perform advanced tasks, aid in research, offer cloud computing and can solve data warehousing and analytical tasks. These breakthroughs have seen the growth of health care walk toe-to-toe with the advancements made in healthcare.

Studies suggest that, by 2030, 22% of the American population will be above 65 years doubling the 1990 figure (Bangalore & Framingham, 2012). This will post challenges in the supply of doctors in the country which currently is still a challenge. The proposed mitigation to this future problem is technology, clinical assistants and other medical technicians to fill in for doctors who will be reserved to perform crucial and critical roles (Bangalore & Framingham, 2012). The use of technology in healthcare seems to be an unavoidable step that however needs to be guided.

Research shows that healthcare costs have been on a steady annual growth rate of 7% a rate if sustained in the next decade will cap America’s annual healthcare costs to $4 trillion. The gravity and necessity of using technology are two essential yet defining perspectives in healthcare that this essay seeks to address. Medical technology plays a crucial role in the economy America besides enabling easier record keeping, saved health care costs as well as improving patient health and safety (Banova, 2013). Medical technology has also helped in the growth of nuclear medicine, imaging and diagnosis and invasive surgeries (Banova, 2013).

The challenge is whether America healthcare should go back to basics or continue relying on advanced technology? Secondly, is there a balance between the two? In retrospect, technology is an essential tool for efficient and precise medical practice that has yielded breakthroughs in grave medical challenges. It is true that doctors have become more efficient, quicker and accurate in their practice and basing of their diagnosis and decisions based on facts; with the introduction of new technologies in their practice. The need to have the technology and practice it in healthcare is imperative nonetheless; the need to control costs and efficiency should define the extent to which we adopt technological interventions.

Technology in healthcare covers the following areas: Support decision making to providers, record keeping, order entry, electronic documentation, diagnosis and results management and administrative capabilities (Chaudhry et al., 2006).  Studies suggest that technology has aided in the delivery of healthcare as stipulated by medical protocols. Secondly, it has boosted the medical surveillance and disease monitoring and care delivery. Thirdly, it has reduced the medical errors committed by doctors. Studies suggest that 91% of medical assistants who used a diagnostic knowledge engine were more accurate in than those who used the option of laboratories, images, and exams (Khosla, 2012). Technology has also reduced the utilization of care and lastly has brought both good and bad effects in time utilization (Chaudhry et al., 2006).

Technology has affected the delivery of quality healthcare in many ways. First, the use of technology in data entry and record keeping has helped in the significant reduction of medical t related errors within America. The use of computers for recording both inpatient and outpatient departments has reduced the occurrences of improper care given to patients. According to research, the adoption of electronic health records system in medical institutions has led to the remarkable developments in processes used for care delivery by averagely 12 to 20 points (Chaudhry et al., 2006). These systems seemed to address the challenges associated with paper-based patient data management and in turn helped in the development of new ways of care delivery quite easily and accurately. Electronic health records systems have significantly reduced drug events yet its role based on research done on its role in reducing medication errors suggests that it is minimal (Chaudhry et al., 2006). It can be argued that for better quality in care delivery, the reliance of technology must be paired with appropriate skills to use the technology itself. It is without a doubt that MRI and CT machines have helped diagnostic procedures in care significantly but with them have come increased costs to manage and operate these machines.

Technology has impacted the efficiency in the utilization of care and the provider time. The used of computerized order-entry systems by practitioners for decision support in care delivery have reduced utilization of care (Chaudhry et al., 2006).  This decision support included: displays for previous records and tests’ results, computerized reminders and pretest probability for diagnosis.  Computers are more productive and accurate than humans. They can organize and recall complicates information, integrate and balance patient symptoms, environmental factors, and history better than medical doctors (Khosla, 2012). If practitioners have good skills in the use of health information technology, then the time used by physicians in data entry can be significantly reduced (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Documentation through electronic data entry has decreased the time used by nurses in their care delivery and hence streamlined their workflow. It is easier for a nurse to handle more patients with the use of iPad and other devices that have software that enables clear documentation of the diagnostics, medication, and care needed than through paper-data (Katie, 2012). Doctors and nurses can get patient alerts through their pagers in hospitals hence making accessibility and the effectiveness of their emergency response measures better and on time. Studies suggest that, despite the reliance on surveillance and monitoring of these patients through technology. They, however, need to be improved in order to benefit health surveillance (Woodhall, 2004). Research showed that the care delivery time when patients could alert their nurses, reduced by 11 percents for institutions that adopted this intervention (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Time management in healthcare delivery has improved with the use of healthcare information systems more so in outpatient departments across America. Studies suggest that computerized order entry and appointment schedules mitigated the problems associated with patients arriving at hospitals in the wrong dates (Chaudhry et al., 2006). The efficiency of technology in healthcare in and of itself cannot alter the status of a disease or the health of the patient. However, their use and context to which they are adopted define their effectiveness in healthcare. 

Studies show that technology in healthcare will replace up to 80 percent of what medical doctors do (Kholsa, 2012). Physician on a day to day basis handle, diagnosis, testing, behavioral modification and checkups on patients. These processes can be tiresome and the accuracy and productivity of the practitioners over time might be compromised. The use of computers, pagers, diagnostic machines and other machines can increase their productivity by a greater deal. This will minimize the errors, overlaps, and laxities that are common with the paper-management systems (Chaudhry et al., 2006). This will minimize the errors and increase the preciseness that is required by medical doctors in their work.

However, the role of technology in healthcare should not erode the altruistic and philanthropic nature of the sector to levels characterized by a steady increase in the health costs and growth of the uninsured citizens in America. Technology just like any other intervention needs to have limits. Healthcare cost currently in America stands at $2.1 trillion. However, for the past years, its growth rates have steadily grown by 7% statistically putting the cap at $4 trillion after a decade (Callahan, 2008). The bankruptcy of the medical program, high health costs and a surging population of citizens who will not be able to afford basic insurance are some of the challenges that such growth rates predispose the sector. The need to have a balance between the necessity of technology and its application is essential in order to ensure that Americans do not fall prey to the dark side of this necessary intervention (Banova, 2013). Ten years ago, 70% of employers in America could afford to give their employees’ health insurance a figure that has dropped to 63% recently (Callahan, 2008). As a result, employees have been pushed to paying for their insurances covers personally a matter that has increased their deductibles and copayments, not excluding the exchequer’s taxation. Consequently, the weakening healthcare sector will imply a further weakened economy which has in recent times defined the presidential debates and elections. The huge costs attributed to technology in healthcare lie in the use of the old and the constant introduction of new technologies.

The need to have a physician in the treatment process of any patient is essential at least in the natural sense in the establishment of a treating environment. Patient treatment is psychological in nature, and a computer should not replace the role of a doctor in this process. Studies suggest that America’s expenditure on healthcare as compared to education’s is three times greater than compared to 40 years ago. Health care costs are ballooning, and the supply of medical doctors judging from the country’s population growth rates seems to be a challenge. A balance between the inadequacy and the need to maintain the role of a medical doctor in the treatment process is necessary.

Economically it is justified to argue that, effective technologica input should result in reduced costs to an institution. However, if the technology in turn becomes costly to the institution itself, there need to be interventions to avert this. Technology has indeed led to the achievements of significant milestones in healthcare and at the same time resulted in adverse effects on the affordability of these services and insurance covers for the low-income earning households across the country.  Studies suggest that the reduction of the costs associated with health care from 7 to 3 percent will be the first step in making healthcare less costly (Callahan, 2008). This will be important in matching the costs associated with the inflation rate, therefore, ensuring that the Americans can afford healthcare in the next ten years, and the Medicare program will not be bankrupt.

The American society also has a role to play in mitigating the growth of costs in technology. Studies show that American’s believe that technology used in healthcare can always save their lives (Callahan, 2008). The idolization of technology as being the only tool that can effectively ‘cure’ has been the reason as to industries are working tirelessly to come up with new technologies despite existing ones being effective, just to quench the constant desire amongst the Americans. Universal healthcare and a more receptive society should form the founding concepts to whether the adoption of new technologies is indeed necessary.

The reliance of technology in the past years has evoked diverse ideologies on its true role in healthcare. Initially, it was seen as an essential facilitator in the care delivery a matter that has changed in recent times. The American society sees technology as an avenue to mortality and death is but a disease that technology will once day solve. Such perspectives have ballooned the costs in healthcare hence driving the actual call of the sector. A cultural paradigm shift and institutional control need to be undertaken in order to mitigate the rising costs as well as encourage necessary and basic technology in the care delivery. Americans deserve better healthcare but not at a price that will cripple the economy just to satisfy the immortality desires seen in many patients.

 

References

Callahan, D. (2008). health care costs and medical technology. From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns. Garrison, NY: The Hastings Center, 79-82.

Chaudhry, B., Wang, J., Wu, S., Maglione, M., Mojica, W., Roth, E., … & Shekelle, P. G. (2006). Systematic review: impact of health information technology on quality, efficiency, and costs of medical care. Annals of internal medicine144(10), 742-752.

HAFNER, K. (2012). Redefining Medicine With Apps and iPads – The Digital DoctorNytimes.com. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/science/redefining-medicine-with-apps-and-ipads-the-digital-doctor.html?_r=0

Woodall, W. H. (2006). The use of control charts in health-care and public-health surveillance. Journal of Quality Technology38(2), 89-104.

Bianca, B. (2013). The Impact of Technology on Healthcare – AIMS EDUCATION. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from https://www.aimseducation.edu/blog/the-impact-of-technology-on-healthcare/

Khosla, V. Technology will replace 80% of what doctors do. Fortune Magazine.

The Economist,. (2012). Squeezing out the doctor. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from http://www.economist.com/node/21556227

Technology and healthcare