Technological change involves invention and adoption. Decisions concerning the adoption of medical technology fundamentally affect the pace of innovation in medicine. Cost-effectiveness must be considered, however, before adopting new technology, particularly with the recent attention given to rising health care costs. Medical technology is a critical element in the quality and cost of health care. Medical innovations are stimulated by advances in scientific and engineering technology and the demand for health-improving technology.
This is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI),
an example of a modern medical innovation.
Photo courtesy of American Medical Technology.
Medical innovation relies on interdisciplinary research. The successful development of a particular technology usually requires close cooperation of several individuals in different but relevant professions. The invention and development of medical devices depends on the use of scientific and technological advances outside of the medical fields in areas such as physics, engineering, microelectronics, materials science, and optics. Medical innovation also requires the involvement of a variety of medical specialties. For example, the evolution of cardiopulmonary bypass depended on cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, physiologists, anesthesiologists, and hematologists. Innovations also require interactions among institutions, particularly universities with medical programs and industrial firms. Thus, advancements in medical technology increase communication and encourage the exchange of ideas among various professions.
Medical technology is still only in infancy. Many new innovations are too intricate for widespread use. By the year 2010, physicians may have access to Artificial Intelligence support systems which may be downloaded from easily accessible software networks. They will contain multimedia interfaces with voice communication, lessening the expanse of computer knowledge required of the physician. Conceivably, every doctor-patient encounter will be recorded in a common medical database, providing a pool of shared knowledge. This type of database can help determine relationships within specific populations to predict and treat healthcare problems. Geneticists may be able to turn genes on or off, thereby eliminating genetic disorders. Doctors predict improved artificial skin and blood. Technology may also improve the administration of drugs. Skin patches will be designed to diffuse a wide variety of drugs into the blood. A practice that is growing rapidly is the use of virtual environment technology. Surgeons use virtual reality to rehearse procedures. Through virtual reality, a surgeon may guide robotics in performing surgical procedures. In this manner, a surgeon in Boston could operate on a patient in Los Angeles. In the future, robotics will be small enough to be injected into a body and guided by a physician.
Despite the high costs and complexity of medical innovations, the use of new technology continues to spread. The benefits of medical advancements outweigh the drawbacks. With the cooperation of various professions, the quality of healthcare will continue to rise.
3D Medical Images
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