Technological advancements, more than anything else, are reminding us just how central healthcare is to our continued existence. More accurately, perhaps, we should say that these various developments improve the quality of our collective lives; in addition to extending it.
The various analytic devices that have sprung up in the last decade to measure practically everything that can be measured are due, in part, to the insert molding process for the medical industry. It’s allowed improvement in devices ranging from the MRI scan, to the EKG machine. Now, with the integration of mobile devices into our everyday lives, apps have been developed that influence everything from exercise to sleep rhythm. As the march of progress continues ever-forward, there are some pros and cons to the extent with which technology has infiltrated our lives.
The Positive Influence of Technology in Medicine
For one thing, the migration of paper documents to electronic format with the establishment of electronic health records (EHRs) has thus far has huge benefits. These include much greater portability, as well as the ability to facilitate medical diagnostics. EHRs connect doctors with very few geographical limitations, which is of tremendous benefit to the patient.
The ability of some apps to operate in virtual space has also engineered advances in telemedicine. Let’s say, for example, you live in a rural area with substandard access to healthcare facilities. Or, you live in a city, but inclement weather has made road traveling temporarily dangerous. This is where telehealth shines, since it means you can convene a conference with your doctor right in the comfort of your own home. In fact, this feature saves you money, too, in case your symptoms and concerns don’t necessitate a physical doctor visit.
Personal Tools for Health
With the advent of the Internet of things (IoT), wearable technology has exploded, too. This includes remote monitoring technology such as health monitoring systems for your heart, lungs, etc; information on the progress of chronic diseases can be relayed electronically to a prescribed healthcare facility. Millions of people already use these kinds of devices; with the pacemaker being the most popular to date.
It’s only becoming more prevalent, too. A recent study – taken in 2018 and reported in the Huffington Post – shows that experts think over 80 million wearable devices for the purposes of healthcare will be in circulation.
While wearable technology is trending, there are also advances in closer integration of our essential medical devices with our lifestyles. Prosthetic leg covers have begun to emerge as a way to transform a purely practical medical object into a personal, fashionable statement. Not only is this making an aesthetic impact, it’s also inspiring positive, taboo-breaking conversations.
Are There Cons to the Prevalence of Healthcare Technology?
As with most advancements, there are also concerns with the growing ever-presence of technology in our daily lives. With healthcare, in particular, there are steps such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that seeks to enhance data security to protect your private medical information. It is purported to be an effective regulatory compliance mandate that provides companies with a guideline on how to keep client data safe. However, this protective measure cannot, of course, ensure that malignant cyber hacks won’t compromise your privacy, or affect any of your wearables that are connected to the Internet.
Concerns That Hit Closer to Home
What about more direct issues that arise from the continued growth of technological devices? Let’s take sleep, for example. This essential activity that consumes more than one-third of your life has been shown to be affected by the various gadgets in the average home.
The blue illumination that signals the powered-on state of most gadgets interferes with sleep. When you think about all the items in your room – the television monitor, computer bus, tablet, smartphone, speakers, etc – then it becomes clear just how many things may be stifling your circadian rhythm. The fact that, if you’re like most people, you go to bed with your tablet and phone, exacerbates the problem. Experts recommend putting all electronics away for up to an hour before you sleep to ensure that they don’t prolong your wakefulness.
In the same vein, these devices keep your brain alert, which is why – for children, especially – it is recommended that they do not have all of their games and apps with them as they’re going to bed. Create an environment in your home where neither child or adult is flooded with wearables and other electronic devices in the hour before bedtime.
Present and Future Uses of Medical Technology
As the relevant tech becomes more advanced, many researchers are turning their eyes toward the use of medtech for things such as genome sequencing. In fact, there are already a couple of outfits – with 23andMe.com being the more prominent – that can provide you with information on genetics and heritable traits if you send in a DNA sample (saliva, i.e.). The generalized name for this field is personal genomics, and it could become even easier to do it in the future.
What would be the benefit of this? Well for one, if you have a history of celiac disease in your extended family, then personal genomic sequencing can help you proactively minimize your chances of manifesting it via dietary triggers. Diabetes is one of the most common ailments for which there is a genetic predisposition, and advanced foreknowledge of its likelihood can help you start early in trying to stave it off.
Although, as with any such advancement, there are cons as well as pros; overall, the continued development of technology is a benefit to humankind. It holds a lot of hope for healthcare worldwide, and allows the more fortunate to reach out to the disadvantaged all the world over.