The topic that I will be addressing in this paper is “Technology and Health Care.” The relevant forms of technology used for this purpose include: satellites, geographic tracking, the internet, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter,, text messaging, mobile apps, online videos, and the tools which can access it, namely: PCs, laptops, tablets and smart cell phones.
This form of technology and its invaluable cutting-edge tools have greatly impacted healthcare as they are able to reach out to the public health community and provide a provision of valuable services. For example, connectivity via satellite can aid in the sending of data relating to early advice on uncommon health events, and the transmission of medical information (Narain et al., 2012). Also, in 2008, Google Flu Trends started to utilize the data from searches in order to estimate global flu activity, and thereby help to keep the health authorities advised of potential flu outbreaks. Also, online healthcare videos, for example, the ones used by the non-profit organization, Public Health Solutions, help people avoid disease through promoting videos which issue warnings to people at risk, and advising on healthy behavior. As HIV is still so very prevalent, they have a set of four online videos in circulation. These HIV prevention tools are excellent as people may be embarrassed discussing the subject with their physician or healthcare provider, or may not have the insurance or funds to discuss the matter with a professional. Another pertinent example are Public Health Solutions’ videos entitled “It’s never Too Early: Feeding Your Baby Well.” These are distributed to all the WIC Centers in the neighborhood, and are instrumental in educating parents on the means to create healthy eating patterns for children who are under 24 months. In addition, their app service named: mHealth, sends out healthcare and health information via mobile devices.
The apps that are used for public health utilize the technology in different ways. For example, the National Cancer Institute has an anti-smoking project named “smokefreeTXT”, which delivers uplifting and positive messages to young people who are attempting smoking cessation. And the Health Department in New York City has a “NYC Condom Finder” which utilizes the GPS navigational system to track down the nearest locale which gives out free condoms. And “Outbreaks Near Me” run by HealthMap finds real-time alerts and news and then informs users about any fresh disease outbreaks in their region. And another example is the California Poison Control System’s “Choose Your Poison,” which utilizes an easy game to teach people that candy and prescription pills can look similar, and inspires parents to put their medication away from children’s reach (Public Health Solutions, 2012). Other technology benefits involve health care workers using PDAs or handheld devices to conduct tobacco surveys on adults, and then sending the information without the need to print forms, almost instantaneously to a central office. And data on new cases of flu can be sent via text message from a hospital location in order to contribute to a surveillance project. In addition to this, any patients suffering from stroke or diabetes can be notified about their medication intake via text message. Other useful technology includes geographic positioning systems and geographic information systems, as these can be very helpful to medical service teams such as paramedics. Also, social networking platforms including Twitter and Facebook are excellent for health news bulletins, and giving out information on an outbreak or emergency. Also, if patients are a long way from their physician or healthcare practitioner, or the physician or practitioner does not have the time to visit them, then they could conduct a bedside or clinical e-consultation (Narain et al., 2012).
As previously shown, Google Flu was successful in advising the health authorities about potential flu outbreaks which meant protecting people. And according to Public Health Solutions, the efficiency and effectiveness of the aforementioned health advice videos along with others they produce, can be an extremely effective method of distributing messages about health. However, they also note that the increase in popularity of mobile apps offers the opportunity for people to have a more personalized and greater interactive experience, and that they have witnessed a huge increase in their app service, mHealth, which delivers healthcare and health knowledge (Public Health Solutions, 2012). In regard to access to healthcare, technology can be used to connect a patient with a healthcare professional via teleconferencing and videoconferencing which lowers the demand for person to person appointments and resources (Narain et al., 2012). The accuracy of public health services that are delivered through the aforementioned technological devices are of course only as good as the person who is putting up the notices or giving out the advice.
However, as these are normally carried out by health professionals, the chances are that they are for the most part, accurate. Patient comfort is often ameliorated by the use of technology, as if patients are unwell, they can just contact their physician or healthcare provider via internet or text messaging from the comfort of their own home, without having to travel to a clinic. Due to the uses of technology, the financial savings can be enormous. For example, a physician or healthcare practitioner can attend to many more people via the internet than they can in person, and the expenses of premises and other running costs are therefore, substantially lower. Also, health announcements via social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are free, and announcements via websites cost almost nothing, as annual website charges are very low. Furthermore, transmitting paperless information via the internet etc., saves a lot of money on resources.
In summary, this paper has shown that the technology of today is capable of transforming and modernizing public health. And if done in a professional manner, this technology can generate quality and efficiency. It can also substantially cut public health costs.
- Narain et al. (2012). WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health 2012;1(2):125-127. Retrieved from: http://www.searo.who.int/publications/journals/seajph/media/2012/seajph_v1n2/whoseajphv1i2p125.pdf
- Public Health Solutions (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.healthsolutions.org/newsletter/Monthly01/OCT_monthly/OCT_monthly/index.cfm