Health care has changed radically since the middle of the 20th century. After the development of germ theory and the creation of medical imaging technologies, medical advances have allowed doctors and other medical professionals to achieve far greater results. The cost of health care, however, has risen dramatically, and delivering top-notch care to as many people as possible is more challenging than in the past. Fortunately, there are a number of new technologies that have the ability to make health care more affordable and more effective.
1) Computerized Record Keeping
Most people have come accustomed to seeing doctors carry around manila folders and write everything down by hand. This, however, is changing, and doctors today are often equipped with a laptop or tablet PC. The changes go further than simply going from paper to a hard drive; medical records in digital form can be more easily sent to other doctors and medical experts. Automated systems can use this information to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. This record keeping goes beyond just patient notes, however, and doctors can view X-rays using these new platforms. Government agencies around the world are giving incentives to doctors and practices that make the switch, so adoption of these systems is expected to accelerate in the years to come.
2) Better Imaging Technology
X-rays revolutionized the medical industry; armed with X-rays, doctors had the ability to see problems instead of simply relying on what the could feel and what patients report. With MRI machines and CT scanners, doctors can now use detailed images to view parts of the body in incredible detail, and these machines have saved countless lives. These machines are becoming even more powerful thanks to better imaging devices and, even more importantly, better software capabilities. These machines must be able to process thousands of images to combine into one, and improved software is making this task more accurate. The real revolution, however, is that these devices are becoming more affordable every year. As the cost of this technology drops, more patients will be able to afford the cost of imaging, and doctors will be able to use these images without having to worry about the expenses involved.
3) Tools for Patients
While much of the focus on health care lies with doctors, their patients have a profound impact on health care as well. The cost of obesity, for example, is staggering, and health care systems that can reduce the incidence of obesity are cheaper to run. With smart devices and access to nutritional databases, patients can better manage their diets. Further, logging software can help patients track their exercise regimens. Another major cost to health care is the management of chronic illnesses. Diabetes, in particular, requires care from patients to manage appropriately, and software that can help patients maintain an appropriate lifestyle that can reduce the cost of running a health care system and lead to better patient outcomes. Another common problem is patients forgetting to take their medications; seniors, in particular, often struggle with forgetfulness. With smart devices and appropriate software tools, the medical system can reduce the problems associated with forgetfulness and poor medication management.
By focusing on preventative medicine and streamlining the medical process, health care programs around the world will be better equipped to deliver great medical care at affordable rates. While many new technologies increase the cost of medical care, these steps will help reduce cost for both patients and governments.
Allison Vassey is a trauma nurse and guest author at BestHealthDegrees.com, where she contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Healthcare Careers for the Future.