The Benefits of Medical Technology on Healthcare Patients
The use of medical technology has brought healthcare to new heights. Processes that previously took days and necessitated that a patient visit a special hospital can now be done at home, thanks to evolution of technology. Broadly, there is a lot of technology out there that is helping improve service delivery. However, the technology has brought with it challenges and issues. This paper discusses some of the issues associated with patient technology use as it seeks to meet patient needs.
One of the biggest issues is the learning curve. In order for technology to be useful, there has to be some learning. Take an example of the insulin pump with data transfer. The pump can save lives if properly used by diabetics. But the device was made with the techno-savvy individual in mind, apparently. This is because it has a touch control and a host of other controls that need understanding of basic computing. Considering that not everyone who needs an insulin pump is techno-savvy, the issue of learning how to use technology arises. A 20 year old student will have no issue with the pump sic he or she was born into a generation where such technology is common place. A 65 year old working executive might have some trouble working the pump but he or she might learn, although it will take longer. A 40 year old truck driver who is computer illiterate but needs the pump will most likely never be fully able o use the pump. He or she will never be able to benefit from such technology in the same way that the student, for example, can.
Another issue surrounding use of technology in health care is security of patient data. According to In Ullmann &In Zott, 2013, medical records transmitted and stored electronically are at risk. In the same way that financial data is hacked, medical data can be hacked and exploited for selfish use by a hacker. Some hackers steal medical reports and data to sell to unscrupulous medical tech companies and researchers. Hei &Du, 2013 states that patient data is easy to hack since it is easy to assume that people wouldn't need to hack that kind of data. An example of data that is easy to hack, according to Levick, 2013 is backup X-Ray images since they are not password protected.
The other issue surrounding the use of patient data is security. Most of the technology is in devices like insulin pumps and pace makers. The manufacturers of these devices have made them networked in a bid to make them easy to use and monitor. This networking has however made the devices vulnerable to manipulation by external means, making them vulnerable, as captured by Hei &Du, 2013. Medical technology is not made with security in mind, and that is a major concern. An example of a hack that could be fatal is stopping a pace maker.
Patient technology also faces the issue of complementary technology. There is technology that has to go hand in hand with other technology. An insulin pump with data transfer has to work with some PC software in order to transfer data. The implication is that the patient cannot use the pump without the PC software. This not only increases the cost of technology but also necessitates that the patient learn how to use the device and the software. This effectively reduces the number of patients who can benefit from patient technology.
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Hei, X., & Du, X. Security for wireless implantable medical devices.
Levick, N. R. Technology takes on tradition: Mobile demonstration module from EMS Safety Foundation exhibits safe patient compartment configurations. Jems.
Timmermans, S., & Berg, M. The practice of medical technology.Sociology of Health & Illness, 25, 3, 97-114.