With the increased internet usage, the medical professionals are establishing what can be referred to as virtual hospitals. These are internet based hospitals where patient’s needs are attended to online. The patient or the person taking care of the patient e-mail the doctor via internet and the doctor, after reviewing the case advises the patient accordingly. This technology has produced a new crop of doctors referred to as internet doctors. An example of such is the World Clinic at Lahey Clinic Center near Boston started by Dr. Daniel Carlin. The Clinic serves clients from around the globe among them sailors, business executives and tourists. The clinic has been able to employ nine doctors within a period of three years of existence, a testimony to the popularity of the idea (Gorman 2001).
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Advancement of technology has also brought about Intensification of technology convergence which involves sharing of medical information, between medical practitioners, medical devices and information networks has been the modern trend affecting healthcare (ZieliÅ„ski 2005). Usually technology convergence includes the sharing of patients present and past medical information, vital signs, clinical laboratory results, patient alarms, prescribed and implemented treatments, and possibly the patient body response. This is adopted by medical professionals to access information about the patient. The systems can be used in hospital billing departments, researches, and for assessing the clinical effectiveness of recommended treatments. The potential benefits are workflow streaming, seamless recording and sharing of information, and an overall patient care improvement. A uniformly presented patient data have resulted to improved clinical decision making and identification of clinical ailments while they are still manageable.
Use of tissue stem cells is another technological breakthrough that has had a tremendous effect on the medical field. Tissue stem cells also known as adult stem cells are regenerative cells of the human body that possess the ability to specialize and develop into other tissues of the body. Beginning in an unspecialized and undeveloped state, these cells can be coaxed to become heart tissue, skin cells and many other tissues (Shi & Singh 2008). The cells are found in human body organs and tissues such fat, bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, placenta, neuronal sources and olfactory tissues. Stem cell technology has made a great change in the medical field in that diseased or damaged tissues can now become healthy and robust through the infusion of such cells. Physicians have utilized stem cells in treatment of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease (Shi &Singh 2008).
Technology has also brought changes in surgery in form of the less invasive surgery which is now preferred as the surgical approach for many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. It is mainly done on outpatients and only on an overnight stay in hospital (Scuderi 2009). Less invasive procedures are performed through one or more short incisions unlike open surgery that requires long incisions. The process is less painful with less postoperative pain on the patient. Through the less invasive surgery there is an overall better outcome with faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay. Even though laparoscopic techniques vary, surgeons insert long thin tube with a lighted camera at its tip, through the incision. Two dimension images are sent from the camera at the surgical site, to a high definition monitor throughout the operation, and are watched by the surgeon.
Screening is the investigation of asymptomatic individuals to detect those with a high probability of developing or having a given complication. Diseases that pose a significant health problem are identified by screening and offset the cost of inconvenience and further complications as well as potential harms. The aim of screening is to eliminate or delay death from diseases. With prevalence of breast cancer remaining high it is estimated that mortality from breast cancer in United States is 40 000 women. Breast cancer screening using screen-film mammography is used (Bassett 2005). The mammography screening involves exposure to radiations. Its value is in helping save lives by early detection. Symptomatic free women are exposed to x-ray. In such operations high technical quality images are produced and competent image interpretations is done for successful outcomes.
Computerized Tomography scanner uses x-rays and a computer to make pictures of organs inside the body. It takes pictures of cross section of the body organs. At times the patient is asked to drink a special liquid or injected with a special x-ray dye. A CT scanner has a round centre opening and a flat bed to lie on. While lying on the bed, it slowly moves to the opening where pictures are taken under the CT staff control. The benefits are that details of parts inside the body such as lungs and blood vessels are obtained without using surgery. The CT scans uses radiations that are accurate, fast, and painless and leave no radiations after the scan is finished.
Positron Emission Tomography a body scanning method that detects radioactive substances injected into the body. It is used to provide information on function and help differentiate normal tissue from cancer, rather that information on structure.
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging technique has been used primarily to produce high quality images of the inside human body structures in medical settings. It produces detailed images of organs and tissues throughout the body without the need of x-rays. Images of visual equivalent of an anatomy slice using radio frequencies, a computer and a large magnet that surrounds the patient. An MRI is painless and the magnetic fields produce no known kinds of tissue damage
Nuclear medicine diagnosing technique is a technique that uses minimal amounts of radioactive materials that are introduced into the body. When these arterials are introduced into the body hey are taken up by specific organs, tissues or bones, the emissions generated provide crucial information on a particular disease of cancer. Since the information given describes organ function and not only structure many diseases including cancer are detected early.
The other medical technique is the use of Ultra sound. This incorporates the use of high -frequency sound waves and their echoes. The technique has a close comparison with the echolocation used by whales, dolphin and bats. These machines are portable and they display the intensities and distances of the echoes produced on the screen, forming a two dimension image. Some images can even be formed without using radiations especially in obstetrics and gynecology also in cardiology and urology.
The technological innovation of an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator is an amazing experience that literally brings patients back from the brink of death. It’s a device that is of the size of a pager that monitors the heart rate (Liem 2001). It utilizes batteries to send electric signals to a heart that’s beating too slow or restore abnormal heartbeat to a heart that is beating much to fast or chaotically. The cardiac defibrillation is a preventive treatment in selected patients at high cardiac death risk caused by Malignant Ventricular Arrhythmias. Basically, for people with a bad heart rhythm problem, a defibrillator is implanted near the collar bone, under the skin at the chest and wires run to the heart. When the heart rate is not normal, it tries to return the heartbeat back to normal. Abnormality occurs either when the heartbeat is too slow, and it works as a pacemaker and sends tiny electrical signals to the heart, or when the heartbeat is chaotic or too fast, it generates defibrillation shocks to arrest the abnormal rhythm.
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In the year 2000 doctors from England reported the use of Capsule Endoscopy to determine the causes of small bowel bleeding ( Classen 2010). The capsule has a battery with 6 hour lifespan, a strong light source, a camera and a transmitter. After swallowing of the capsule, it transmits images of the inside of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine to a receiver worn as a belt by the patient. The receiver is returned to the doctor after 6 hours, who loads the information into computer and reviews it, to detect gastrointestinal abnormalities. The capsule is passed out through the colon and eliminated in the stool. However if the capsule get stuck in the small intestine, surgical removal is undertaken (Collins 2008). So far the capsule is considered safe and easy to take since only rare cases of side effects have been reported. The advancement has been used to explore the tight twisted areas of the small intestine, which traditional invasive tube-and-lens endoscopes cannot reach.
While congestive heart failure remains a leading cause of cardiac disability and death, advancement of pharmacologic therapies is ensuring that patients are living longer and more productive lives. Circulatory assist devices have been used for the management of patients with heart ailments where the interventions have failed. In 1982 an artificial heart was implanted into Barney Clark (Bankston 2002). Although he only survived for 112days, later a number of experimental devices were implanted throughout the world. It has led to treatment solutions for terminal heart diseases; cardiologists have overcome organ rejections and enhanced prolonged survival rates of transplant patients. The artificial heart consists of a hydraulic pump, an internal battery, an external battery and an internal controller unit.
In the military medical assistance, the Robotic Surgical System has been used to treat a wounded soldier in the battlefield using advanced diagnostic and operated machines from remote location. The robot carries out commands of a surgeon that controls the processes; otherwise the robot cannot perform the surgery by itself. The doctor receives a video feeding from the robot and utilizes a system of surgical manipulators to perform the operations. His actions and voice commands are communicated wirelessly to the automated system as he moves his hands in manipulators; the robot then replicates his actions. Also due to troops in battlefields that loose their hands and arms there is a program that is underway to revolutionize upper body prosthetics. This is being researched on to develop improved artificial arms that would perform like real arms controlled by the central nervous system.
On the converse what was initially an art of caring and compassion, has clearly become a science of medicine and views disease as defeat. More interest is made on the technological advancement and disease but not the individual being treated .The life sustaining machines has lead to the modern phenomenon of dying when machines are shut off. Dehumanization by technology is well exhibited during the death of a patient; he is surrounded by machines and impersonal systems in intensive care units rather than their kinfolks at home. Professionalism in the medical care has been characterized by a growing detachment from the unique concerns of individual patients and a loss personal relationship to the patients. Health workers no longer relate fully to patients as other individuals but as representatives of professions and healthcare organizations. The medics have become more bureaucratic and impersonal. As a result of this there has arisen the inequality between those in need of medical assistance and those with the capability of responding to the need. Although great advances in the medical field have added value to the human life, this impersonal quality of care coupled with the inequality has led to growing mistrust and a feeling of dehumanization by the patients.
The electronics industry has incorporated the biomedical engineering in research development of instruments; design and modification of appliances to alleviate pain extend life and restore health. Biomedical engineers spend lots of time designing electrical circuits and computer software for medical instruments
Advances in medical technology have large benefits in healthcare. These technological advances also raise healthcare expenditure significantly ( Moody 2006). To run the machines, great professionalism and years of expertise is required making the cost of such services raise by a great margin. The research and experimentation before the technology is authenticated, requires monetary investment that eventually must be recovered and the much required manpower compensated. Especially for the innovations that their usage does not spread to the entire population, in the long run services become almost beyond reach. Globally the cost of treatment has risen with technological development. The benefits gained have outweighed the additional cost of healthcare services. The desire to find better ways to treat patients as they compete with other providers have motivated the interest to create new products and for a clearer understanding of human body anatomy and physiology.
The availability of high technology diagnosis and technology has led to a better quality of life. In the medical field there has been a more detailed understanding of disease pathogenesis and body physiology. By such learning, diseases that previously were termed as untreatable and accounted for high mortalities in human populations, have been favorably been combated. Ailments that are asymptomatic can be detected early enough before the depressed the body functionality, and its defense mechanisms. Although the cost of treatment gave gone up, more resources are saved due to reducing the destruction on body organs and tissues, and also human resources lost while patient are in weak conditions for a long time. Many patients view new medical inventions as the answers to their healthcare problems. There is always room for medical inventions, as every day dawns diseases and especially cancer cells require more understanding and more effective treatments. There are much more medical technological advancement that have been made including, birth controls, fertility assistance using test tube babies, that have relieved couples of their psychological and physiological stresses. The step that remains is to devote more effort to making the current technology accessible.
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