What are the pros and cons of information technology in this realm of new developments in healthcare?

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The pros and cons of technology in health-care are similar to the pros and cons of technology in any field. The use of computer technology has benefited general organization of patient information, record keeping, and communication.

Organization and record-keeping by the use of computers saves time, money, and physical space. It has helped eliminate medical errors that account for a very high number of preventable deaths each year. It has also streamlined and standardized care across geographical distances so that patients are not limited to seeing the same doctor and risking a compromise in their care. Likewise, communication has been globalized, and doctors can communicate with other professionals as well as their patients quickly and easily. Patients can access and monitor their own health, and communicate that with their doctors remotely. Additionally, medical professionals can analyze trends and statistics, track infections and diseases, and communicate quickly with the general public in order to help prevent wide-spread medical problems.

Technological advancements have also decreased health risks and opened opportunities for people suffering from medical issues to have more independent lifestyles. Think about technological advancements in heart-rate monitors, blood-glucose monitors, and other life saving devices that are now available for average people to be able to use away from a medical facility. Technology has not only increased independence for such people, but saved lives.

On the other hand, technology has a downside. Because it has succeeding in globalizing medicine, it requires a standard language, or medical codes. By expanding medical care to a wider area and including more people in a patient's care, there is always a risk of losing a personal connection as well as opening up more opportunity for human error. Further, when humans come to rely on technology, they often grow lazy in double checking or relying on instinct, and can make mistakes as a result. Other downsides to an increase in technology in the medical field is the risk of losing patient privacy and confidentiality. Computers are actually more exposed to the potential for obtaining and stealing records than, for example, a locked drawer in a doctor's office.

Finally, and any doctor will tell you this, the advancement of technology in health-care has made "everyone an expert." We no longer live in an age where going to the doctor is completely necessary for a diagnosis, because WebMD and Doctor Oz are easy resources for average humans to self-diagnose problems. This, naturally, has both positive and negative implications.