Information technology has had significant implications on the cost, quality and accessibility of health care. Although the diffusion of technology into healthcare is low, investment in healthcare technology has great potential of improving efficiency, quality and safety of health care. This paper will examine examples of healthcare technology and how this has influenced the cost, quality and accessibility to health care.
Influence of Health Information Technology (HIT)
Health Information Technology involves the application of computer in the medical practice. This includes computerized entry systems that physicians use to order tests or medications, the support system that guides clinical decision making, electronic prescription of medications and electronic medical records.
The diffusion of technology into healthcare system has had significant impact on the quality of health services provided. The support system for clinical decision making, for example, enables clinicians and physicians to make well informed and accurate medical decisions through a system-supported consultation procedures. Electronic medical record (EMR) has helped in facilitating electronic transmission of data thus enhancing the realization of interoperability of different care facilities and sharing of medical information (Blumenthal & Glasser, 2007). This, added to application of electronic health record (EHR), have improved quality of health care by helping in the identification of harmful drug interactions or potential allergic reactions of patients to the prescribed drugs (Blumenthal & Glasser, 2007).
Health Information Technology has had an impact on the cost of healthcare. It enables care providers to prescribe more generic medicines. This lowers the costs of medication associated with the prescription of the costly brand-name drugs. Besides, the cost associated with medical transcription is eliminated. Herndon, Hwang & Bozic (2007) cited that the cost associated with manual maintenance of patient records is tremendously reduced with the integration of technology into the information systems of the healthcare industry.
Accessibility of healthcare services is greatly improved with health information technology. Interoperability of healthcare system facilitated by health information technology enhances sharing of information. Therefore, patients can be able to access medical services promptly from any location since the systems are integrated. With health information technology, one is able to diagnose medical conditions through the computerized diagnostic information systems (Blumenthal & Glasser, 2007). Through this system, a patient can easily determine the possible infections and access the recommended diagnosis for the disease. This implies that one only needs to seek for the recommended drug without having to travel to the hospital to see a practitioner.
Mobile Technology and Health Care
Mobile health involves application of mobile technologies in health research and delivery of healthcare. This has impacted the quality of healthcare positively. With the mobile technology, more research has been done on best treatment interventions for various diseases (Herndon et al, 2007). Mobile technology enables practitioners and the public to have instant access to drug information for over 800 diseases and conditions. This enhances provision of accurate prescription for these diseases and conditions thus strengthening the quality of the services provided.
Mobile technology has tremendously improved the accessibility of healthcare services. For example, small lapel button combining tiny video camera, microphone, GPS connection and accelerometer transmits a person’s real dietary and physical activity through the mobile phone to a dietician for evaluation. Dietary information and intervention can thus be accessed easily from the dietician. Besides, this technology gives a summary of over 800 diseases and conditions with their detailed drug prescription information through a powerful search engine. Flip phones, iPhones and Androids have also facilitated easier access to medical health information and thus bring healthcare services closer to the public. Mobile technology also decentralizes healthcare services (Blumenthal & Glasser, 2007).
Whereas the quality and accessibility of healthcare services is greatly improved with the use of mobile technology, the cost implications are unbearable for the low income earners. The accessories that this technology demands in order to be functional are very expensive and thus unaffordable for the low class category of potential consumers. Further, the online prescription approach to medication is very expensive given the challenge of location and cost of the prescribed medications for the conditions and diseases that are diagnosed.
Computer-Supported Treatments and Health Care
The quality of healthcare services has greatly improved with the integration of computer supported medical interventions. The use of assistive technology and computer-supported screening and treatment of diseases has significantly improved the quality of healthcare services provided to patients (Blumenthal & Glasser, 2007). Screening, detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancerous infections, for example, have been possible due to the diffusion of computer-technology into the healthcare system. Besides, computer-supported cognitive behavioral treatment of the anxiety disorders is quite expensive (Anderson, Jacobs & Rothbaum, 2004).
Medical technology has involved use of technical machines in disease screening and treatment. Microscopic computers have been used in the screening of cancerous cells and other micro-bacterial infections within the human system. However, the application of technology in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of diseases has been very expensive and unaffordable for most people. The cost of healthcare has thus risen as a result of the application of technological approaches in the healthcare system.
Since the cost associated with integration of technology in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions has almost tripled, accessibility of healthcare services has gravely declined. A good percentage, approximately 40%, of middle class population cannot access the healthcare services due to the high costs associated with technology supported treatment procedures. This is particularly the case with some of the chronic diseases and conditions such as cancerous infections.
The diffusion of technology into the healthcare system has generally had positive impact in the health sector. Whereas the cost of the healthcare services has relatively shot, the quality and accessibility healthcare services have greatly improved. Healthcare technology should thus be promoted although the cost should be considered.