3 Ways Medical Technology Promotes Cost-Effective Care

medical equipmentEvery year, biomedical engineers and computer scientists develop new medical technologies. These technologies take many forms, such as advances in durable medical equipment, advances in detection and imaging equipment, and even advances in medical informatics. Although the cost of researching and developing these technologies is reflected in the cost of the equipment or programs, over time, these advances can promote more cost-effective care. Following is a discussion of three ways advanced medical technology is making patient care less expensive.

Durable Medical Treatment

Durable medical equipment is the workhorse of the typical hospital or clinic. The staff use this equipment to help move patients as well as to help patients bathe and rest. Advances in durable medical equipment, such as hospital beds and bathing equipment, can save hospitals and clinics money, which in turn can save insurers and patients money as well. New, more durable and easier to clean designs are developed on a regular basis. More efficient and better-constructed equipment can not only help to prevent injuries for both patients and the staff, but they can last longer, which lowers the cost of replacing them. This in turn lowers the cost of hospital stays and clinic visits overall.

Advances in Imaging Equipment and Diagnostics

In addition to the durable equipment, advances in imaging equipment and diagnostics can not only save money, but save lives as well. The latest advances in imaging provide sharper and more detailed views, which can prevent unnecessary exploratory surgeries and help the physician select the correct treatment the first time. Diseases such as cancer can be detected earlier, which also enables the physician to act faster. Early detection is critical when diagnosing cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. In addition to imaging tests, advances in other diagnostic tests such as DNA technology can speed the diagnosis as well as prevent errors, which can save money by preventing repeat tests as well as help the physician to make treatment decisions more quickly.

Medical Informatics

Finally, the latest breakthroughs in medical informatics have revolutionized the way in which medical offices are run. New electronic filing systems help streamline appointment booking as well as remind office staff and physicians to schedule specific patients for tests and regular check-ups. In addition, these programs store patient health records, which helps to identify patients who are good candidates for clinical trials, analyzes demographic data, and allows physicians to analyze treatment outcomes.

Like other uses of technology, physicians and administrators must consider the legal and ethical implications of purchasing new technologies. New advances in medical equipment, testing, and programs can provide better results and save money when they are used correctly, but some pieces of technology may not be worth the cost. Some new technologies can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which has to be passed along to the patients and the insurers. Physicians and administrators must consider the benefits of the technology and the long term costs before new technologies are purchased.

In the new political environment, the cost of health care is being scrutinized and wasteful spending is being eliminated from medical systems. The cost of purchasing new equipment is a large expense, and hospitals and clinics may find themselves under increasing pressure to justify their purchases. While politics is unlikely to halt research and development, we may see new, more efficient technologies being developed with a focus on cost effectiveness rather than just for the results the technology can provide.

About the Guest Author

Jessica Canfield is a public health researcher from Brooklyn, New York. She hopes you will check out her Resource Guide for Public Health Professionals for more useful information about the ever-evolving field of healthcare.

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Development of Technology in Healthcare

Over the years, technology has improved the way healthcare providers treat and take care of patients. There have been a number of changes that these developments have brought about in the medical field.

Medical technology refers to the different processes, procedures and equipment involved in the healthcare field. This can involve diagnostic and treatment procedures in hospitals and clinics. It also includes pharmaceuticals and devices that are needed for treatment and diagnosis. Medical technology has brought many benefits to healthcare providers and patients. This article will discuss the many advantages that development in healthcare technology has given the medical world.

Improved Diagnosis

Technology has also helped people in inventing machines and equipment that can effectively diagnose the patient’s disease. This has eliminated tiresome tasks like unwanted physical assessment and evaluation in order to determine the patient’s real illness. Technology has brought X-ray machines, CAT Scans and MRI devices that accurately diagnose the patient’s condition.

Physicians no longer have to go through the traditional process of palpation and physical examination with the naked eye. They make use of highly technical machines in order to avoid human error and provide adequate assessment of patients.

Discovery of Treatments for Diseases

Advances in medical technology have also brought wonders to the healthcare field. It has given cures and treatments to diseases that were regarded as untreatable in the past. Long-term illnesses such as diabetes and renal diseases are now curable with the use of newly developed drugs and equipment.

More Effective Treatment Plans

Recent technological advancements in the healthcare field have also brought new techniques in documentation and analysis. There are computer programs that can easily store all important information about the patient’s past and current medical state. This information can be used to analyze the patient’s case and formulate techniques that can treat the disease.

There are other programs that allow the healthcare team to access data about the patient without having to flip through paperwork.  This provides easy access to needed information any time and from any station in the hospital.

The healthcare team can also use programs that allow them to analyze their patient’s conditions. They can use their tablets or computers in presenting their case and discuss it with the whole team. This makes identification of treatment plans and strategies easier and more convenient.

Based on how fast technology improves in the healthcare field,  medical providers and the patients they treat can look forward to a brighter and more healthy future.

About the Guest Author

Jane Lance is a freelance writer who has a special interest in issues related to health care. The Best Health Care Degrees is one of the resources she regularly contributes to.

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Healthcare Technology: Benefit or Danger?

Each year, new developments in healthcare technology are unveiled. Physicians boast on their websites that they have the latest equipment and technologies, and patients flock to hospitals and clinics that promise the latest advances in technology. “New” is often equated with “better” in American society, particularly when it comes to healthcare, and also when it comes to technology. These advances in medical technology are often very beneficial because they can save patient lives, save time, or even save money. However, physicians and healthcare administrators must take care to use the technologies ethically to avoid harming patients instead of helping them.

Health Records

Perhaps the simplest application for healthcare technology is the advent of electronic records. Electronic records are often heralded as a large benefit to busy hospitals and clinics because they help office workers and physicians alike keep track of patients in an efficient manner. For example, instead of having to order copies of a patient’s medical records, a specialist can pull up their entire medical history on their computer. This saves time and money because the physician knows which tests the patient has undergone and can proceed accordingly rather than wait for the records or redo them. In addition, electronic health records allow hospitals and clinics to identify patients who may benefit from clinical trials, or who need to undergo certain tests of examinations.

However, electronic records can present ethical problems. When records are kept online or in a database, there is always the possibility of an information leak that can lead to a devastating invasion of privacy. In addition, electronic health records can actually make transferring information between physicians more complicated at times, especially when the physician who needs the medical records works in a different health system than the patient’s general practitioner. Finally, the question of ownership has emerged. Patient advocacy groups argue that the patients own their own health records, but many hospitals argue that since the data is contained on their record systems, they own the data. Many healthcare providers charge patients for requesting copies of the data be transmitted to another clinic or hospital.

Equipment

There is no doubt that advances in medical technology saves lives. Healthcare technology makes diagnosing and treating conditions faster, more accurate, and more comfortable for the patient. However, critics also question some of the uses of this technology. For example, tests using new technologies are sometimes more expensive rather than less, and many physicians order these expensive tests without considering the impact the cost will have on the patient and the insurer. This can actually drive up the cost of healthcare, as does the purchase of the newest equipment. These costs get passed along to the patient and to the taxpayer in the case of patients on Medicaid and Medicare. In addition, advanced technologies can keep patients alive when their quality of live is minimal, which not only creates the obvious ethical issues, but adds expense to the patient’s family as well as to taxpayers if the patient relies on Medicaid or Medicare.

Mandatory Tests and Defensive Medicine

Another ethical problem that new technology can create is that it drives up the standard of care past the point of practicality. For example, patients who exhibit symptoms of certain conditions, such as AIDS, must undergo mandatory tests to help manage their symptoms. However, in many cases, these tests are not necessarily to the patient’s benefit. Instead, they are a move made by physicians to cover every base to avoid malpractice suits. Because newer tests are often more expensive, they can drive up the cost of healthcare.

The Verdict

It would be short-sighted and inaccurate to state that new advances in medical technology do not help patients; the technologies, when used judiciously, almost always help the patient. However, physicians and other administrators should use the technologies as they are needed and only when they are called for to avoid driving up costs. In addition, electronic records should be carefully secured and should benefit patients rather than add to their cost of healthcare.

About the Guest Author

Stan Leventhal is a medical researcher and writer from San Diego, California.  He contributes regularly to blogs related to advances in healthcare and has written a very informative piece at The Best Online Degree Programs in Medical Informatics.

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Healthcare Informatics Trends

doctor on ipadModern communication and data transmission is increasingly changing the way society does common tasks like making a phone call. The healthcare industry has been moving forward with informatics for over a decade. Increasing the efficiency of the healthcare industry is one way to bring down the high prices. Cutting-edge solutions to information technology will reduce the bottom line while still allowing professionals to provide proper patient care. Looking into the future of healthcare offers some innovative trends in informatics.

Mobile EHR

Mobile health records are giving doctors more options when it comes to servicing their patients. The days of waiting for the answering service to contact a physician and request a callback may be over at last. MHealth solutions put the doctor’s office in the physician’s pocket. The future trends in mobile health technology point to both doctors and consumers turning to smartphone and tablet computer applications to manage healthcare, according to a recent article by Ken Terry of InformationWeek. With mobile EHR, physicians can review charts, issue prescriptions and provide consultations all while moving from point A to point B.

Remote Management

Digital health products empower patients. With the right application, patients can take control of their healthcare management. The newest trends in digital health allows for remote monitoring of patients with chronic and degenerative illnesses. For example, a diabetic could go online and chat with a remote nurse assigned to her case. This alleviates the need to call the doctors office with questions or concerns.

A patient could get readable data regarding their disease, so information is right at their fingertips. Healthcare professionals spend less time putting out fires for the chronically ill while patients gain more control over their own health. Digital healthcare services could be outsourced by a medical facility or practice, so at-home nurses and physicians are available 24/7 to help a patient if necessary.

Remote Hospital Monitoring

The overcrowding of emergency rooms has made sending patients home with monitoring devices an attractive option for medical facilities. Urgent care centers took part of the burden off ERs but informatics may lighten the load even further. TeleHealth monitoring is already available in some areas, but the service is expected to increase exponentially by the year 2016.

With remote hospital monitoring, an online nurse can monitor the patient’s vital signs and other key health indicators even after discharge. This means fewer patients taking up beds in the hospital simply for observation. Mobile devices will send data to a medical professional for evaluation. In the case of an emergency, the staff will send emergency service or tell the family how to handle certain situations.

The future of healthcare infomratics is in remote patient processing. With the escalating costs of medical care and the changes coming to the insurance industry, medical professionals are searching for ways to streamline. Remote handling of patients is one of the key features technology will offer in the coming years. Fewer emergency room backups, fewer tie-ups in doctors’ offices and home patient management all add up to fewer operating expenses while still providing patients with effective care.

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How Healthcare Informatics Improves Medical Care

Healthcare informatics is a term that refers to the use of information technology in the medical field. There are many applications for healthcare informatics, most of which use computers. The general uses of healthcare informatics include electronic record keeping, information dissemination, data tracking, data analysis, and indexing. There are several software packages on the market that perform one or more of these jobs, and more are developed and improved upon each year. These applications have provided significant benefits for physicians, administrators, insurers, and patients.

Streamlining Medical Records

One way in which healthcare informatics has improved medical care is by making records more accessible. In the past, medical records were kept in paper copies. When a patient went to a specialist, the specialist would have to order copies of the patient’s paper records from his or her primary care physician. When the charts arrived, they may have been illegible because of poor writing, badly organized, or just arranged in a system that was different from what the specialist used. Even worse, the specialist may have had to wait days for the paper records to arrive, and the information the patient may have given could have been inaccurate, leading to misdiagnoses or ordering the wrong tests. Electronic records standardize record-keeping systems and put the information right at the physician’s fingertips, reducing waiting time and eliminating error.

Medical Research At Your Physician’s Fingertips

Healthcare informatics also involves the use of electronic systems to track medical research. There is a wealth of medical research available, and busy physicians do not have time to review all of it. Some of the newest applications in healthcare informatics allow physicians to type in symptoms or even a condition and retrieve all of the latest research, including information about new treatments and clinical trials. This ensures that patients have access to the best and most cutting-edge care.

More Effective Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are better organized using healthcare informatics. Data trends can be tracked and viewed automatically without length data analysis and hand-calculations. This allows physicians to see trends in the clinical trials that they may not have noticed previously, as well as prevents errors in data calculations. In addition, the combination of record keeping systems and clinical trials data can help physicians identify patients who might be good candidates for clinical trials.

Patients As Their Own Advocates

Healthcare informatics also helps patients take charge of their own health. From health information online to electronic forms of translated patient information, patients have more access to information about health than ever before. Having this information helps patients seek preventative care, helps them identify early signs of health problems, helps them identify better treatment options, and helps them ask more informed questions. All of these scenarios can lead to better patient health outcomes.

Computer applications also help patients with chronic conditions monitor their health. Some programs even allow them to transmit data about their blood pressure, vital signs, etc. directly to their physician or healthcare professional. This helps physicians catch early warning signs of complications before the patient can suffer a significant negative health event. In the past, a patient had to wait for their next appointment, and by then they could already have suffered damage to their health.

The healthcare informatics field is developing so fast that it is difficult to predict what new applications will be unveiled in the future. However, as the focus turns to eliminating waste and error in the healthcare system, the field will continue working on improving efficiency and access to information.

About the Guest Author

Dale Jenkins is a physician and writer who blogs about healthcare issues and how technology is transforming the medical field.  For more on this topic, visit Top 10 TED Talks on Healthcare.

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McKesson and Dell Top 2012 Healthcare Informatics Again

Top 100The magazine Healthcare Informatics released a list of the top 100 medical technology providers of 2012. This is based on the revenue of each company in the healthcare information technology market. It features a number of large companies that have continued to top the list in the past years.

McKesson Technology Solutions and Dell Inc. are the two top earners in the healthcare technology field for this year. These companies have developed excellent medical technology solutions for hospitals and healthcare providers worldwide.

McKesson Technology Solutions

The top ranked company for this year is McKesson Technology Solutions. This healthcare IT solutions company has led the field for five consecutive years. The company is among the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the country. It also supplies medical and home care equipment to hospitals and pharmacies.

The company prides itself on its outstanding healthcare technology solutions for hospitals and other healthcare providers. It offers healthcare providers effective methods in diagnosing and providing treatment for patients.

The company developed an Electronic Health Record system that allows medical professionals to store patient data and utilize it in providing quality care. The information is available to healthcare professionals at any time. This system rids them of traditional time-consuming methods of data gathering and analysis.

AcuDose-Rx is an online recording system that allows the healthcare team to record all medications given to patients. This lets them input any medical treatment that involves the use of drugs in order to automatically update the pharmacy. This system provides a more secure way of giving the healthcare team access to medications. It also aids in accurate inventories and alerts the pharmacy of any supply needs.

Dell Inc.

Dell Inc. continues to provide great technology in different areas that include healthcare. This is why they have earned the second spot on the top 100 list for the past few years. The company delivers healthcare IT solutions that help medical professionals in carrying out their tasks.

Electronic Medical Records is an interactive program that allows all medical professionals in a particular hospital to gain centralized knowledge about their patients. It lets members of medical teams input information into one database. This is then available for other team members through their online devices.

Other notable healthcare technologies are Mobile Clinical Computing and Clinical Business Consulting. Mobile Clinical Computing allows medical staff to access important data about the patient’s condition. This lets them easily browse through the system without having to spend a lot of time going through medical files. Clinical and Business Consulting works as an online guide for healthcare providers. This system helps them provide the best medical care for patients while minimizing hospital expenses.

Honorable Mentions

The list is then followed by three companies that have maintained their positions since 2011. CareFusion Corp., Phillips Healthcare and Cerner Corp. continue to earn the third, fourth and fifth spots. Cognizant and Siemens Healthcare are in sixth and seventh place while NTT Data Inc. earned the eighth spot. Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. is in the ninth place while CSC closes the Healthcare Informatics’ top 10. These are then followed by Cegedium, Epic Systems Corp., Optum, Emdeon Inc. and EMC Corp. in the eleventh to fifteenth spots consecutively. Infosys Ltd., The TriZetto Group Inc., Science Applications International Co. and Nuance Communications Inc. took the sixteenth to twentieth ranks.

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The New and Innovative Field of Health Informatics

For technology geeks who also possess a keen interest in the sciences, health management, and patient care, the field of health informatics offers some promising opportunities both professionally and financially. As a relatively new and emerging area, this field not only possesses a faster than average growth rate of 20%, it also includes professionals who earn between $44,000 and $132,000 annually. Provided below is a descriptive overview of health informatics and everything that it entails.

What is Health Informatics?

Health informatics is a medical-related field that combines the use of technology-based applications and medical knowledge to enhance a healthcare facility’s billing, data, patient information, financial, and administrative components. This field comprises an array of educated professionals who not only possess advanced skills in software and computer technology, but also a thorough understanding of both the health sciences and healthcare management.

Health Informatics Degree Options

One of the best parts about the field of health informatics is that it provides a variety of opportunities for educational advancement for individuals of all ages, types, and qualifications. Those opportunities include both online and campus style programs for certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. While certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees are offered to students who possess at least a high school diploma, master’s degrees are generally only offered to students who possess at least a bachelor’s degree, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and some experience in their field.

Whether students pursue a one-year certificate program in health informatics or an advanced, two-year master’s degree program in health informatics, the typical course components of both programs include: computer science, data integrity, human anatomy and physiology, healthcare informatics, ethical healthcare management, information security, and medical terminology. It is through those courses that students are provided with the skills and hands-on experiences that are essential to their success in hospitals, research centers, nursing homes, and even insurance companies everywhere.

On average, health informatics certificate and degree programs cost between $300 and $500 per credit hour to complete. This range not only reflects differences in educational facilities’ tuition costs, but also the variety of degree levels offered by those institutions.

Careers in the Field of Health Informatics

Health informatics professionals work in a variety of specialties, which include primary care, rehabilitation, obstetrics and gynecology, and pharmaceutical sales to name a few. A wide range of earning potential is provided for those whose salaries reflect their skill and experience levels, reputations, educational backgrounds, and geographic locations. Some of the most rewarding career opportunities in the field of health informatics comprise the following professionals: innovation officers, medical information specialists, health application developers, health information analysts, and quality improvement specialists.

Career Outlook

With today’s struggling economy and need for healthcare advancements, the field of health informatics is essential. From facilitating the administration of quality patient care services, to implementing the best technologies for medical records managment, professionals in this area are constantly working, learning, and advancing in hospitals and medical facilities around the World. Today, it is through both specialized computer software programs and a broad knowledge of medical terminology and jargon that the field of health informatics develops and maintains cost-effective, advanced solutions for data storage, billing processes, and medical services in all healthcare facilities.

About the Guest Author

Kelly Grande is a nurse educator from Detroit, Michigan.  She frequently contributes to healthcare journals and blogs, and more of her expert advice can be found at Top Online Colleges for Nursing.

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Information Technology Continues to Improve Medical Care

There is currently a growing number of newly developed healthcare technologies. Treatments, procedures and medications continue to improve. The effectiveness of these all depend on data storage and reports.

Different computer-related technologies have been developed in order to help healthcare professionals in treating medical conditions. These programs have made their tasks easier and more accurate. Over the past few years, a number of computer software programs have successfully made their mark in the healthcare field.

Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System

The CHESS system was developed at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This is a computerized self-management program for patients with chronic diseases. The program can be installed on a computer in order to help patients manage their illness from their homes. It aids people with cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV infection. However, this tool can only help people evaluate and manage their conditions and is not an alternative to hospital care.

The system educates patients about their medical condition in order to prepare them and help them deal with their illness. It provides facts regarding common questions about the disease with its pool of data and articles. The system also helps patients in searching for healthcare services and gives them referrals, as well as providing possible action plans and help in carrying them out.

Health Evaluation Through Logical Processing

This computerized system was developed at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and is currently distributed through the 3M Company. This program aids physicians in deciding on the best drug for a patient’s specific condition. The system collects necessary data and provides possible drug options. This reduces potential adverse effects and medical costs through careful elimination and evaluation.

The system has an automatic antibiotic consultant that allows physicians to input the patient’s condition and overall health status. The program then identifies a suitable antibiotic based on all the information given. It utilizes important data that includes the patient’s body system status in order to eliminate drugs that can potentially harm them.

Computer Stored Ambulatory Record

This system was developed in 1968 and continues to help hospitals and clinics in effectively recording and storing patients’ data. The information can then be used to assess the patient’s clinical condition for current and future diagnosis. The system has 13 guidelines and still progresses over time.

COSTAR has a computerized guideline that records patient’s laboratory results. These can be used to monitor whether the patient’s health is improving or worsening. The program stores the initial results as the baseline data and inputs subsequent information in the graph. This is a clear representation of a patient’s health status over the years.

Regenstrief Medical Record System

This was initially used at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis as a recording system for patients’ medical information. The system records all medical interactions with the patient. This includes clinical visits, hospitalizations, laboratory findings and all other medical data. These are the used to help physicians in coming up with a diagnosis.

The RMRS also aids medical staff in providing effective care. It has an automatic reminder that alerts healthcare teams whenever a patient needs a particular laboratory test, screening or vaccination. It also records scheduled hospital visits in order to remind the medical staff and help them prepare.

Advances in Information Technology within the healthcare arena happen every day.  We are fortunate to be living in an era where these advancements and enhancements can greatly improve the quality of medical care, and, in turn, life.

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The Power of Science: Medical Breakthroughs in 2012

When it comes to healthcare, the time is now. For decades we’ve watched limbs regenerate, people control mechanical limbs with their minds, and eternal life, all play out on the silver screen. Now is the time to reap the benefits of a first-class health system. Two of the biggest biggest medical breakthroughs in 2012 come from those most dedicated to progressing the human race. They have the intelligence and aptitude to dedicate their lives to a cause much larger than themselves. 2012 ushered in a new wave of unbelievable accomplishments:

Cell Rewind

This year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine went to a pair of researchers working to unlock the potential of our own mature cells. John Gurdon of Gurdon Institute at Cambridge, UK and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, Japan demonstrated the possibility of converting adult cells back into pluripotent stem-cells. Until now most scientists believed that cellular specialization was an irreversible process, that cell life proceeded in only one direction. Gurdon and his researchers proved that by removing the nucleus from a frog’s egg cell, and replacing it with the nucleus from a tadpole’s intestinal cell, the process was able to turn back the cellular clock of the substitute nucleus. Gurdon showed that mature cells could be reverted back to an embryonic state in which they could be programmed into any cell in the body. Can you imagine the possibility of using fat cells to regrow a limb?

Scientists are confident that cells created using these techniques will eventually be used in stem-cell research, allowing physicians to regenerate damaged cells and organs.

Blood Infusions

A team led by Dr. John Kheir, representing Children’s Hospital Boston, discovered something truly amazing. Kheir had been experiencing a large number of strokes in infants. Though only lasting a few minutes, strokes have a devastating impact on the recipient, often paralyzing them permanently or worse. Kheir knew that patients needed to get oxygen back into their systems so that doctors could go in and address the problems, but how do you get oxygen into the bloodstream without breathing?

Kheir and a team of cardiologists experimented with rabbits for many years, injecting them with gas-filled micro-particles directly into the blood stream, then asphyxiating them for up to 15 minutes. The particles are a mixture of fatty molecules surrounding tiny packets of oxygen gas, which go to work in seconds infusing the blood with rich oxygen. The rabbits experienced no adverse physical effects. Ideally this breakthrough will prevent millions of deaths from suffocation each year, and thwart heart attacks and brain damage caused by lack of oxygen to the bloodstream.

In 2012, science has defined a new age in medical technologies sure to usher us through the 21st century. But how we choose to use these technologies, and what eventually results from these uses, is up to the people. Let us choose wisely.

About the Guest Author

Glen Sabel studies and writes about medical research for various online publications. More of his findings can be found at Top 10 Best Online MBA in Healthcare Management Degree Programs.

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Medical Informatics: Strengthening the Bond between Patient/Physician Relationships

Medical InformaticsFor most of us in developed areas of the world, gone are the days of having to literally bite a bullet to help deal with the pain and agony of an required amputation; where health was assessed by visible wounds; and where surgery included using a tool made of bone to crack open a hole in the skull. With today’s marvelous technology, medical professionals are able to use computers to assess, diagnose, treat, monitor and record a wide array of health disorders.

Medical Informatics is the interdisciplinary field where the use of computer technology is emphasized. Computer technology is utilized to analyze, manage and organize useful information in health care. The main goals of medical informatics are to develop high standards in regards to clinical guidelines, facilitate the communication and information exchanging between patients and physicians, and to define structure and uniformity to modern medical terminology.

Medical Informatics and Its History

Gustav Wagner, a German Scientist in 1949, created the first professional organization for early informatics. Other European countries began to follow suit; several university departments began studies for Medical Informatics. In the 1970s, America took note of the rising trend and began to develop large scale information systems, resulting in the American Medical Informatics Association.

An example of Medical informatics implemented in the medical field is the software developed for pharmacies that help stop the pharmacist from prescribing a medication that can have a deadly or adverse effect on the patient. The computer system will detect anomalies, and immediately bring it to the attention of the health professional. Many may remember a time when medical records were saved in brightly colored folders. Medical Informatics made it possible to have Electronic Medical Records. Now personal and clinical information is entered into a computer system, saving time, money, resources, paper, and office space.

The Downside

There is a dark side to the technology. The technology involves constant revising and updating to keep information current and functioning. Existing systems could be attacked with a virus or some other form of malware. Personal information could be compromised if it were to fall in the hands of the unauthorized person, causing huge breaches in privacy. If a power outage were to occur, the whole system can be delayed, causing a decrease in patient satisfaction and possible fatalities in regards to failing life-sustaining equipment. The cost of medical informatics in the medical workplace can be extremely high. Considerable resources are required for complicated, comprehensive medical technology implementation.

Aside from the obvious pitfalls of such technology, the pros severely outweigh the cons due to the fact that patient care has been highly enhanced with computerization. Computerization makes a huge difference in medicine by allowing meaningful algorithms and systems to be developed. If technology can help strength the bond and communication between the patient-clinician relationship, the result is patient care that is efficient, safe, effective, and timely. Ultimately, Implementing Medical informatics in the medical work place increases reliability, reduces errors, and maximizes health services to patients.

About the Guest Author

Emma Carlson is a retired registered nurse who enjoys writing about her profession for many online resources, including MSN – Nursing Informatics.

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