Ask Away...: The Problem With Technology In Healthcare

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Problem With Technology In Healthcare

The crisis in healthcare is big news at the moment and there are a lot of questions that need answering about how we can continue to provide good quality affordable healthcare to everybody. Staff shortages are one of the major hurdles as the number of trained medical professionals is falling while patient numbers are going up. This leads to more mistakes being made and patients coming to unnecessary harm during a hospital visit. There is also a big problem with efficiency and the wasting of resources which puts a whole lot more strain on the limited staff.

Image From Pixabay

The major solution that people are offering is technology. A lot of research is going into new medical technologies that can help take the pressure off and improve patient care while reducing costs at the same time. Some companies have even claimed that they’ll be able to replace GP’s with artificial intelligence in as little as a decade. New programs can assess your symptoms and give you a preliminary diagnosis and the eventual goal is to develop them as mobile apps that you can use at home. On top of that, new monitoring systems mean that nurses and doctors don’t need to check patients regularly, meaning that they can cover more beds at once. That all sounds great and hopefully it will bring about a lot of improvements in healthcare but that doesn’t mean they aren’t without their problems. People are often too caught up in the possibilities of technology that they don’t stop to think about the negatives. While technology in healthcare isn’t a bad thing in itself, it could cause some of these problems.

Lack Of Compassion

The role of a nurse is to monitor patients, administer medication and change bedding etc. But that’s not all that they offer. When somebody decides to do a nursing mba, it’s usually for compassionate reasons. They want a career where they can help others on a daily basis. This is such a huge thing for patients because a hospital stay can be a scary time and having a kind compassionate person around can ease a lot of that stress. If you start to replace a lot of those functions with technology, patients will have less face time with a nurse. The whole hospital experience will be more stressful, especially for elderly patients. It’s helpful for nurses to have monitoring systems that reduce their workload a little but it’s important to strike a good balance so patients are still seeing a real person regularly.

Ignoring Alarms

Image From Pixabay

When you hear a car alarm going off, I’m guessing you don’t call the police? Most people tend to ignore them because you hear them all the time and most of the time, they aren’t going off because of an attempted theft. You get used to the noise so you just filter it out. It’s not likely to be that serious in a hospital and I’m not suggesting that nurses and doctors are going to just ignore warning alarms. However, if there are all sorts of warnings and alarms going off all the time for things that aren’t urgent, they might be inclined to have less immediacy. There’s also a risk that in a busy room with a lot of beds alarms can be easily missed.

Missed Mistakes

When everything was filled out by hand on paper forms, there were multiple people checking them before any action was taken. Automation and computer software is a big help because it massively reduces the amount of money that needs to be spent on administration staff. On the other hand, if everything is automated, fewer people are involved which means mistakes can slip through more easily and go unnoticed for longer. As software gets more advanced it will be able to pick up a lot of those mistakes but it’s still something to look out for.

Home Medical Care

New technology that reduces the number of people that need to see a medical professional in person will be a huge help. Alleviating pressure on staff is one of the most pressing concerns but home medical care comes with a downside. One of the reasons that GP’s are oversubscribed at the minute is online diagnosis tools. People go to a website and type in a few of their symptoms and get a list of possible problems, which usually includes a worst case scenario. That means that there are a lot of people going to the doctors thinking they’ve got a serious illness when they’re just got a bit of a cough. As this diagnosis software gets more complex, these false diagnoses will reduce, however, they still rely on the information that you give them. People that are naturally worried about their health will overplay symptoms leading to more serious false diagnoses.

Medical equipment for use in the home also poses a big risk. When you’ve got a nurse or a doctor carrying out tests you can be sure that it’s safe. But when people are administering tests on their own at home, there are likely to be a lot of mistakes which could lead to bigger health problems in the future. Regardless of how easy the technology is to use, people are always bound to get it wrong sometimes if they aren’t trained medical professionals.


Image From Flickr

Cybersecurity isn’t an issue that people usually associate with the healthcare industry but when so many of our medical services are starting to move online, it’s vitally important. The healthcare industry is already the biggest target for cyberattacks. There’s going to be a lot of sensitive medical information on patients so it’s likely that cyber criminals will start to increasingly target medical centres. A lot of money is going to be needed to bolster security services and it’ll need to be kept up to date so there are no weak points. That’s a huge annual expense that is added onto the already straining healthcare industry.

Technology can solve a lot of the problems in healthcare and help to provide a better, more affordable service but it’s important to avoid the trap of thinking it will be a simple solution to a complex issue and remember that it will create new problems as well as solving old ones.

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