In today’s world, technology plays an important role in every industry as well as in our personal lives. Out of all of the industries that technology plays a crucial role in, healthcare is definitely one of the most important. This merger is responsible for improving and saving countless lives all around the world.
Medical technology is a broad field where innovation plays a crucial role in sustaining health. Areas like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information technology, the development of medical devices and equipment, and more have all made significant contributions to improving the health of people all around the world. From “small” innovations like adhesive bandages and ankle braces, to larger, more complex technologies like MRI machines, artificial organs, and robotic prosthetic limbs, technology has undoubtedly made an incredible impact on medicine.
In the healthcare industry, the dependence on medical technology cannot be overstated, and as a result of the development of these brilliant innovations, healthcare practitioners can continue to find ways to improve their practice – from better diagnosis, surgical procedures, and improved patient care.
Information Technology and Medicine
Information technology has made significant contributions to our world, namely in the medical industry. With the increased use of electronic medical records (EMR), telehealth services, and mobile technologies like tablets and smart phones, physicians and patients are both seeing the benefits that these new medical technologies are bringing.
Medical technology has evolved from introducing doctors to new equipment to use inside private practices and hospitals to connecting patients and doctors thousands of miles away through telecommunications. It is not uncommon in today’s world for patients to hold video conferences with physicians to save time and money normally spent on traveling to another geographic location or send health information instantaneously to any specialist or doctor in the world.
With more and more hospitals and practices using medical technology like mobile devices on the job, physicians can now have access to any type of information they need – from drug information, research and studies, patient history or records, and more – within mere seconds. And, with the ability to effortlessly carry these mobile devices around with them throughout the day, they are never far from the information they need. Applications that aid in identifying potential health threats and examining digital information like x-rays and CT scans also contribute to the benefits that information technology brings to medicine.
Medical Equipment Technology
Improving quality of life is one of the main benefits of integrating new innovations into medicine. Medical technologies like minimally-invasive surgeries, better monitoring systems, and more comfortable scanning equipment are allowing patients to spend less time in recovery and more time enjoying a healthy life.
The integration of medical equipment technology and telehealth has also created robotic surgeries, where in some cases, physicians do not even need to be in the operating room with a patient when the surgery is performed. Instead, surgeons can operate out of their “home base”, and patients can have the procedure done in a hospital or clinic close their own hometown, eliminating the hassles and stress of health-related travel. With other robotic surgeries, the surgeon is still in the room, operating the robotic devices, but the technology allows for a minimally-invasive procedure that leaves patients with less scarring and significantly less recovery time.
Technology and Medical Research
Medical scientists and physicians are constantly conducting research and testing new procedures to help prevent, diagnose, and cure diseases as well as developing new drugs and medicines that can lessen symptoms or treat ailments.
Through the use of technology in medical research, scientists have been able to examine diseases on a cellular level and produce antibodies against them. These vaccines against life-threatening diseases like malaria, polio, MMR, and more prevent the spread of disease and save thousands of lives all around the globe. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save about 3 million lives per year, and prevent millions of others from contracting deadly viruses and diseases.
Medical Technology and The Law
As technology in the world of healthcare continues to evolve, rules and regulations concerning its use must be established and adjusted to adapt to the new methods of administering care. Regulations like HIPAA and its Privacy and Security Act target the concerns about the confidentiality of patient information and the steps that must be taken to maintain privacy in our digital world. Medical providers and healthcare administration must be careful when choosing to implement new products and technologies into their services, and should ensure that all technologies are “HIPAA compliant” before investing in their implementation. Other initiatives, like the 2010 Health Care Reform bill, state the steps that must be taken by hospitals and other care providers to integrate medical technology into their practices.
Technological innovations in the healthcare industry continue to provide physicians with new ways to improve the quality of care delivered to their patients and improve the state of global healthcare. Through technology’s integration with areas like disease prevention, surgical procedures, better access to information, and medical telecommunications, the medical industry and patients around the world continue to benefit.