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Impact of Advances in Health Care Technology

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

From the rise of the personal computer to the use of surgical robotics, healthcare technology has changed dramatically. Read this lesson to learn more about how technological advances have made tremendous strides in terms of healthcare access, affordability, and overall patient care.

Technology and Healthcare Mix Well

From the beginning of medicine, surgical and biological discoveries have continued to push our limits and extend our lifespans. Despite financial, legislative, and ethical barriers, healthcare has changed so much over the past few decades. Technology, or devices and systems used in medicine to promote health, has significantly changed the healthcare environment. Technological advances have impacted healthcare largely in terms of:

  • Health
  • Care
  • Cost

Health and Direct Patient Care

Susan is a 28 year old accountant, working long hours during tax season. On one of her long work days, she unfortunately experiences sharp and stabbing right abdominal pain. She does not have a primary doctor and prefers not to pay out of pocket for hospital expenses, but she decides to go to an emergency center due to worsening pain.

Due to standardization of high-tech equipment, diagnostic machines have become more affordable, and her local emergency center has the latest equipment. She is immediately diagnosed with acute appendicitis, indicating that her appendix must be removed and that it is at risk for rupturing--a life-threatening emergency. Upon hearing this news, she agrees to be transported to the local hospital.

Upon her arrival, the care team is aware of her diagnosis and acute (urgent) condition. The diagnostic images revealing the appendicitis are immediately available to her new team at the hospital because her medical information was placed into her electronic medical record (EMR). This means that no matter where Susan is treated, all of her medical and health information is accessible to her providers. This is certainly a relief to Susan, as she remembers having to manage all of her records on pieces of paper as a young adult.

Susan is next taken into surgery to have her appendix removed. Due to many technological advances, her surgeon explains that she will not have to receive a large incision, or surgical cut, into her skin to have the appendix removed. Instead, surgical robotics will be utilized, and will only require a tiny cut through her belly button to remove the appendix. Susan happily agrees, as this procedure means she can spend fewer days in surgical recovery, ultimately reducing her hospital bill. She will also be able to return to her regularly scheduled activities much sooner, including all of her clients eagerly awaiting their tax returns.

Advances to Support Care Outside of the Hospital

After Susan leaves the hospital, she quickly resumes her normal life. Her schedule has been very hectic, but she has been in communication with her case manager via email regarding an important follow-up visit, just to make sure that she is doing well after returning home. Understanding that Susan does not have a primary doctor and that she lives a very busy life, her case manager connects her with a provider that participates in telehealth. Telehealth is of interest to Susan because she can speak with a provider and have her small incision site evaluated. She especially values this option because it means the visit can be conducted within the comfort and privacy of her own office, by connecting with the provider utilizing video chat.

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