The Cost of Innovation in Healthcare

Medical technology is without a doubt the biggest innovation to the healthcare industry. It can be called the largest driving factor and is a key role in virtually every aspect of healthcare. It’s becoming more and more clear that medical technology is influencing the way we are thinking about healthcare—especially patient care and efficiency—and will continue to shape the industry for the foreseeable future.

Technology, in all its innovative acclaim, does come with a glaring drawback: It’s incredibly expensive. Arguments are made that the cost of medical technology outweigh the benefits it brings. However, below is a look at the benefits medical technology brings and will continue to bring—making it well worth the cost.

Benefits of Medical Technology

The application of modern technology into the medical field has advanced medicine, and subsequently, human life by leaps and bounds. Today, healthcare is dependent on technology for the transfer and flow of information, medical equipment, and ultimately making patient care easier, and more concise.

Most recently with the emergence of practices such as telehealth, telemedicine, and wearable technology, doctors can gather information from the general public to a specific patient without having to make a physical appointment. Diagnoses can be made for a patient across the globe, files such as patient history and records can be transferred with the click of a mouse, and patients can stay in their homes if need be to get a checkup. In minor cases, you can take out the factor of a doctor in the equation.

Using your cell phone, you can download health apps that allow you to monitor the symptoms of a loved one for afar. The Samsung Health app can keep track of blood sugar levels, weight, and heart rate—among other things—for a better understanding of you or a loved ones wellbeing.

With the integration of technology and medical equipment, a surgeon now can do minimally-invasive robotic surgeries from an operation space miles away for a patient in which travel isn’t an option. It saves the surgeon and the patient a trip that can be costly. Medical equipment such as prostheses implants are getting easier and cheaper to make, while becoming more technologically advanced.

The Cost of Medical Technology

Some would argue that the costs of the implementation of medical technology are not worth the benefits. Some of the arguments are that it costs too much to produce medical technology; hospital stays from robotic surgeries are longer and therefore more expensive; competition within similar technologies will drive up costs; and the risk of error and injury to a patient is too great.

Medical technology can be all of these things. But this is largely due to the fact that legislation, particularly laws that regulate intermediaries such as group purchasing organizations, have not caught up to the rate in which technology is advancing healthcare. It will get more difficult to make the same cases when knowledgeable public administrators can gain a grasp on how quickly technology is taking over the healthcare industry and bridge the gaps among costs, efficiency, and patient care.

The advances of technology are also being met with skepticism, or even resistance from some sections of healthcare. As with any occupation, as we see an increasing number of practical uses for technology, we can also see a number of jobs that can be automated, or creating ease and the opportunity for a wider range of people to perform job functions. Occupations in healthcare in danger of this situation span from nursing to surgery. With the ease, convenience, and more cohesive collection of data, some nursing jobs are looking to be automated. In surgery, innovative procedures such as minimally invasive operations are discouraging to surgeons due to the fact that medical technology makes it easier for more procedures to be done by others, such as specialists.

The compilation of patient data, combined with the convenience of telehealth and telemedicine, makes for a more comprehensive assessment for the patient. Less trips to the doctors office, easier surgeries, and faster diagnoses make for better quality of life. Medical technology is creating endless opportunities for easily accessible, quality care for the consumer, which will, in turn, drive down healthcare costs. That is, if legislation and business models can keep up with the blistering fast pace in which technology is changing the industry.

By Noah Rue

About the author

Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, an ESL teacher, and an all around good dude, if he doesn’t say so himself.

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