Technology in today’s Healthcare
Technology has moved into everything around us now. From our smart phones, to our refrigerators that can assess the contents and order groceries for you, technology is growing. The medical field has seen technology invade every aspect of care, from testing on machines that can upload results instantly to the doctors and nurses, to the way patients and their families are notified of care. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of technological advancement in healthcare.
How can communication be improved to allow health care professionals to have a clearer picture of all that the patient needs. And how much easier would it be for families to all receive the same info at the same time instead of relying on one or two family members to relay it and remember every word exactly. Making life and healthcare easier should be the goal, and through technology this is happening now. How secure is this type of communication and what are the risk associated with using it?
A study conducted with hundreds of patients, healthcare workers, and patient families showed the valuable way healthcare information can be reliably shared to improve patient care and improve communication between the patient, their family members, and the medical professionals caring for them (Gordon, C.R., Rezzadeh, K.S., Li, A. et al., 2015). Patients could decide who should receive the updates on care, allowing for multiple family members to all receive the updates. Patients “were offered complimentary registration to a secure, web-based service designed to distribute perioperative updates to a group of recipients designated by each patient…” (Gordon & Rezzadeh, et al, 2015).
The study was followed up by surveys that only about a quarter completed by both the patients, their families, and the healthcare workers who took part (Gordon & Rezzadeh, et al, 2015). The results showed that the system of notifying multiple family members through electronic means, either SMS messages or email, was an immense success and allowed for more clarity in care and treatment. Family members and caregivers were better kept informed and had fewer miscommunications on the treatment being given or any special instructions for the patients care at home.
The disadvantage to this type of care and communication is the lack of person-to-person interaction that can sometimes be crucial in understanding fully by both sides. Medical professionals must learn to adjust to this and still accurately diagnose and treat patients. We know that technology is only limited by imagination now, and who knows, maybe one day tri-corders and other science fiction devices will be just as real as the smart phones we use today. Until then, we will learn and use the technology available to us and imagine that distant Sci-Fi future.
In the five years since this study was conducted the world has been thrust into a pandemic of COVID-19 giving technological advances like this one a larger market in which to prove its worth and value. Having supportive and knowledgeable family and caregivers can play a large part in improved care. As technology advances, less and less patients will have to go sit in person in a Dr’s office waiting room among other patient sharing germs and sickness among them. Safety has become critical to everyone and this technology helps keep people safe. HIPAA compliance and risk assessment are areas that all medical businesses and their business associates must be prepared to address as technology advances.
Gordon, C.R., Rezzadeh, K.S., Li, A. et al. (2015) Digital mobile technology facilitates HIPAA-sensitive perioperative messaging, improves physician-patient communication, and streamlines patient care. Patient Saf Surg 9, 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13037-015-0070-9.