iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Drew Hendricks

GET UPDATES FROM Drew Hendricks
 

How Technology Is Changing the Medical and Health Care Field

Posted: 05/14/2013 1:09 pm

Over the centuries, new medical developments and techniques have changed the face of healthcare. The medical field has always brought together the best and brightest of society to help those in need. From treating cancer and delivering babies to dealing with heart attacks, doctors have developed technology and improved techniques.

The problem modern doctors face is a broken medical system and rigid insurance companies. They have managed to work through these difficulties to provide excellent patient care and successful new techniques. As biomedical research improves, doctors will be better at tackling health problems in a cost-effective way. The three main changes that are revolutionizing the medical field are electronic medical records, population science and clinical practice guidelines.

Population Science for Treating Epidemics

Population science is essentially the study of health and illness within groups. In the past, public health workers primarily applied this field of study during outbreaks. Now, new technology has enabled the study of population science to revolutionize the medical field. By evaluating patients on a large scale, physicians can look at the death rate, life span and frequency of illness throughout the healthcare system. On an individual basis, the physician can treat an illness. When the entire population is considered, issues such as cancer, heart disease and obesity are a growing epidemic. Population science can allow doctors to look at a large-scale way to cure these epidemics instead of just treating an individual. These epidemiological principles are now used in clinical studies to make the evaluation of medical procedures better.

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Evidence-based guidelines allow doctors to figure out the likely causes of a symptom and the best way to treat it. In Taiwan, the national health care system is now designed so that doctors have instant access to these statistics from their computer. As the field of healthcare has changed, new diseases and disorders have developed. It is impossible for one doctor to know how to recognize and treat every disease in the world. With evidence-based guidelines, they can come close. These guidelines may not have a perfect success rate, but they can make diagnosing illness easier.

Electronic Medical Records

Healthcare professionals who work with medical billing and coding know the strides technology has made. In the last few decades, medical billing and coding has switched from being a paper-based system to a computerized format. Under HIPAA laws, medical practitioners had to develop new software in order to send out electronic bills.

Doctors are benefiting immensely from the drive toward electronic medical records. With one touch of a button, doctors can access all the care a patient has ever received and can figure out possible illnesses. Another benefit of this new technology is that it enables statistical documentation of the whole population. It can also help to make the healthcare system more transparent and can be integrated with reimbursement data. As the healthcare system changes, this will prevent unnecessary costs and make it easier to get the reimbursements needed to treat a patient.

Using the ICD-10 in a Medical Practice 

Known as the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, the ICD-10 is the latest revision of this diagnostic tool. Basically, this classification allows illnesses, unusual findings, external causes and symptoms to be coded. It encompasses 14,400 different codes, as well as additional sub-classifications. The World Health Organization provides information online and offers ICD-10 training for doctors. In the United States, the ICD-10 includes additional codes that amounts to a total of 76,000. This tool is able to trace  diagnoses and allows a country to track its morbidity rate. It is used to retrieve and store diagnostic information.

If they wish to start using the ICD-10, clinics often have to install new software. Once this is done, all of the staff members must be trained and educated on how to follow set guidelines. Before a practice begins using the ICD-10, they should check the storage space required and look for online training programs. Many association websites can offer instruction. Other items, like patient kiosks, can help to improve the efficacy of the new software.

In an increasingly digitally connected world, new technology allows the field of healthcare to make drastic changes that streamline the system. Software programs enable population statistics to be tracked and can help with diagnoses. In addition, new billing methods and tracking procedures make it easier to identify  a patient's past treatments Overall, this reduces the amount of paperwork, increases the rate of successful treatments and allows practitioners to look at the entire population when treating an epidemic. Despite all of these new developments, it is still depends on the physician to ensure quality healthcare. When it comes to treatment, all of the best tools in the world can only help if the doctor is skilled enough to perform a certain procedure.

 

Follow Drew Hendricks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrewAHendricks

FOLLOW TECH