Although medical technology brings numerous benefits, what have been some of the main challenges posed by the growing use of medical technology in the United States? Next, how do American cultural beliefs and values influence the use of medical technology?
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What is medical technology? Medical technology “refers to the practical application of scientific knowledge to improve people’s health and to create efficiencies in the delivery medical care”. Applied sciences such as chemistry, physics, engineering and pharmacology have greatly benefited medical science. Helping to grow the use of medical technology. Some examples of medical technology are, diagnostic equipment (MRI), pharmaceuticals, medical procedures (tissue transplants) and facilities and organized systems (Shi & Singh, 2017, p. 110).
There is an article written and posted in the American Society for Engineering Education Journal that focuses on different types of medical technology. Specifically focusing on medical technology and research and the impact it has on those in need of services after accidents (TG, 2016). The importance of the use of applied science such as engineering is very beneficial to medical sciences. While some might not relate engineering and medical technology together, it is a very important part of what benefits the medical sciences.
As previously stated engineering plays a large role in the development of medical technology. There was an article written discussing the importance of medical technology to a family who had a child suffering from seizures. There was a wearable device that was created by an epidemiologist in North Carolina that would wirelessly notify caregivers if someone was suffering a seizure (Grose, 2014). There are now sensor devices that one can wear to alert by smartphone or computer when someone is having a seizure. This technology was invaluable to the mother who now felt safe knowing that she would be alerted immediately when her son was having a seizure. “In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, New International Version). This device was created by someone who was compassionate for those in need of help when their seizure take place, such as the mother who had a young son. It is important that we as Christians continue to let our light shine before others, helping them and letting them know we are there to help.
One of the main challenges posed by the growing use of medical technology in the United States is cost escalation. The textbook states that some medical technology may reduce costs, but technology has contributed to healthcare escalation (Shi & Singh, 2017, p. 108). Those costs affect both consumers and providers. When costs rise typically the patient pays more due to insurance prices and billing or the provider is paying more for certain equipment and has to charge additional costs, while they might not show up immediately somewhere down the line someone is paying the costs.
Another challenge is raised complex moral and ethical dilemmas in medical research and decision making. An example given in the textbook discusses “when critically ill patients are put on life support with little hope of full recovery, healthcare recourse may be wasteful” (Shi & Singh, 2017, p. 108). I found this to be a very interesting example. While contemplating about resources being used that would not be able to benefit someone, you never know, there are always instances where people have survived that were once told they did not have much time to live. I feel at the time when decisions are made like that many people do not think about the wasted resources, or possibly even view it as that. Also, consumer expectations are raised. Patients expectations have a considerable influence on their healthcare which leads to a greater demand and utilization of the most up to date technology (Shi & Singh, 2017, p. 108).
American cultural beliefs and values influence the use of medical technology by having an economy and political environment in which innovation thrives which then creates opportunities for scientist and manufactures to develop new technology (Shi & Singh, 2017, p. 116). The textbook also states that Americans have high expectations of finding cures through science and technology and equate the use of advance medical technology with high-quality care (Shi & Singh, 2017, p.116).
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The main challenges stemming from the rise in medical technology include the increased costs, the training involved, the expectations of patients and physicians, and the more and ethical dilemmas. The challenges faced by rising medical technology should be accompanied by three questions in its justification: does the technology work? Is it safe? Does it compare well with alternative interventions? (Mebius, 2017). The technology introduced may be highly sophisticated but if it fails to meet standards of medical environments, chances are it will not flourish. Also, the clinical setting has unique time constraints and pressures and new technology must be able to compete in that environment. Dr. Matt Strickland from the University of Toronto explains the challenges of new technology in healthcare by stating “Sometimes new technologies are oversold and end up diverting resources from where they should go” (Collier, 2014).
Medical technology offers the promise of decreased labor costs, improved patient outcomes, and increased operational efficiency. These benefits, however, can lead healthcare managers to purchase new technology without conducting the proper amount of research. A study from Rice University of Texas hospitals between 2000 and 2007 discovered that technology costs rather than hospital market power was the strongest contributor the rise in hospital pricing. It is from statistics like these that thorough research needs to be performed before establishing the risk of adding unnecessary costs to an organization’s budget without adding significant operational value (Atwood, Larose & Uttley, 2015).
As mentioned earlier, the costs associated with medical technology can be quite significant including the upfront costs. Healthcare leaders should seek various areas of expertise within their organization or contract out to obtain the needed skillset to perform a deep analysis of the product being implemented. Assigning a project manager or architecture design specialist would be ideal for any organization. Aside from upfront costs, there are also capital costs which includes integration points and network infrastructure as well as the cost of the new technology itself. In addition, there are operational costs which include the gaps in skillset to support the new technology, contracts for servicing and parts, and the training involved. A gap in skill level that can be fixed by training will have to constitute outsourcing of labor which incurs additional costs. The decision-making process for new technology contains a slew of challenges that accompany the costs. Healthcare leaders need to perform data evaluation, review price quotes, establish a strategic vision, evaluate the funding sources, determine the life expectancy, and determine the quality of care that the new technology will perform (Atwood, Larose & Uttley, 2015).
American values have influenced the use of medical technology in that individuals (patients and providers) expect new technology. There is an overwhelming pressure to use the latest technology because it is always being upgraded. Americans desire to have the latest innovation especially when it comes to their own health care. What is less clear with individuals and medical technology is their full understanding of it and their willingness to bear the risks of it. Regarding medical technology, research shows that 15% of individuals trust information of the latest innovation from a web site, 12% from the news media, and 9% from an advertisement. Studies also suggest that what Americans are most concerned with regarding medical technology is the possible side effects; 78% stated that this was an important factor. Also, 86% of individuals agree that the government should be responsible for making sure all new technology is safe before being implemented. Americans clearly value the availability of technology and believe that its side effects outweigh whether the technology works in general. With these concerns on technology lingering, there needs to be mechanisms in place for public reporting to be highly tailored to the consumer (Schur & Berk, 2008).
Genesis 11:6 states, ‘And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them”. Technology in the medical field is vital to the solutions of so many health problems. God knew from the beginning that people are capable of anything and this includes the constant innovation of products and procedures. As a culture who values this, Americans continue to look past the challenges of innovation and seek improvement on all levels.
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