Technology has had a profound impact on medical care and treatment during the last two decades, with digital innovations enabling hospitals to better manage, monitor and perform procedures on a daily basis. Some of these innovations, such as the Electronic Health Record (EHR), have played a critical role in eliminating silos at a business level and promoting nationwide cooperation and collaboration, while others such as Google Glass have had a transformative impact on physical surgery and operations.
Technology has improved almost every facet of healthcare, with the march of new digital products and tech facilitating a smarter and more connected service and working environment. The EHR has been pivotal to this digital revolution, as more than 90 percent of the hospitals in the United States are now using the record system, compared to just 16 percent in 2009. This means surgeons and GPs can access electronic and health records to inform decisions, while institutions and organizations can use information to deliver a standardized, high-quality care service to millions.
Technology has also had a dramatic impact on the quality of medical procedures such as plastic surgery, with these now being more accessible, individualized and refined than ever before due to the arrival of new techniques and materials. One of the most notable advances in recent years has been driven by a device called an endoscope, which has transformed facial rejuvenation. This device uses a small camera to provide images of underlying issues via a small cut in the skin. It means surgeons can now perform brow lifts or eliminate jowls using tiny scalp or eyelid incisions. The advances are not confined to facial reconstruction either, as tech has changed how rhinoplasty, liposuction and lip augmentation is performed. Other recent innovations include the use of radiofrequency to remove damaged tissue, and carbon dioxide lasers in skin resurfacing procedures. Lasers enable wrinkles around the mouth and eyelids to be reduced without major tissue destruction.
Lasers have also been crucial to a rising standard of eye care, with laser eye surgery becoming a hugely popular means of correcting vision in recent years. The surgery uses an excimer laser to delicately reshape the cornea, and different techniques can be employed depending on the requirements and issues such as short or farsightedness. US adults spent over $35 billion during the 12 months to June 2013 on vision care and there is no sign that the demand for technology aided eye treatments is slowing.
The Internet and social media are broad branches of technology and have been key in enabling doctors to reach and perform their jobs more effectively, improve patient care and work efficiency, and contribute to better medical procedures and less suffering for patients. For example, telehealth and telemedicine technologies allow patients to complete a video consultation program with a physician or doctor. New tech will continue to shape the face of medical treatment in the future, with advances such as virtual reality and optical head-mounted displays driving a new wave of incredible tech procedures.