Why I Fight for Improving Technology in Medicine
People sometimes ask for my opinion on how we can improve medical care in our country. Often those people are expecting answers focused around education or funding. These areas are undoubtedly important and I think can make a significant impact on improving medical care. But my answer to this question is usually something different — increased access to technology. I firmly believe that advancements in technology can be key to improving medical care across the board. I’ve backed that conviction up with my efforts in the past. Lend me your ears as I talk more about this topic below.
Importance of tech in medical history
The evolution of our approach to medicine over the years is often a story of enhanced education. The more we learn about specific medical conditions and how they respond to various treatment options, the better equipped we become to find positive outcomes for our patients. This has been true in broad strokes, such as the discovery of bacteria and how to treat infection, and also in finer details, such as a greater understanding of what causes diabetes. Education has been truly revolutionary when viewed in this context and I would say we can all benefit from more of it.
But, in many ways, a lack of technology can limit the effectiveness of education. Take the example of the discovery of bacteria and infection. Knowledge about these elements is important, but being able to act on them requires the use of technology. If we don’t have the means to create a sterile environment in which to conduct surgeries, then it doesn’t really matter how much we know about bacteria. If we don’t innovate antibiotics, then we’re limited in our ability to treat infection. These are specific examples that can help to illustrate how much we rely on technology for major medical breakthroughs.
Technology in anesthesiology
As an anesthesiologist, technology plays a very visible role in my work. Unbeknownst to many patients, a big part of my job is monitoring vital signs when a patient undergoes surgery. It falls to me to make sure that their organs are functioning properly and they’re responding well to anesthesia. If I notice a drop in some vital sign, I need to act fast to correct it or notify the team. Otherwise, the patient can suffer severe complications. This is a big part of the work I do during a typical surgery.
Anesthesia has always been at the forefront of monitoring and technology. Our specialty has pioneered the use of technology and anesthesia delivery systems to make operating rooms incredibly safe. In fact, I always say the operating room is probably one of the safest rooms in an entire hospital. In fact, under my direction, I can expand the team to bring in additional or different providers, activate the blood bank to bring nearly endless blood products, and direct major resuscitations with state of the art equipment. The use of technology in an operating room brings so much good to the world and is an absolutely incredible place to work.
Of course, technology plays a huge role in my ability to track vital signs effectively as well. Without a proper monitoring setup, I can be essentially blind to the beat of a patient’s heart or the status of their kidneys. But basic monitoring only gets me part of the way towards my goal. These days, advanced computer systems play an integrative role in monitoring patient vitals. These systems can warn doctors when certain vitals are dropping and can even advise on corrective actions. This tech can help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and can result in overall better outcomes for patients undergoing surgery.
Power of records
One accomplishment that I’m especially proud of is my work to advocate for more integration across different medical systems when it comes to record-keeping. There was a time, not too long ago, where getting records from a different hospital was a lengthy and difficult process. Departments had to be called, faxes had to be sent, approvals had to be made. The whole process could take days, which was bad news for vulnerable patients. I’ve seen situations where we badly needed records for a patient from another hospital and were limited by the ability of the system to accommodate the request.
I made this a major focus of my work, advocating for more integration between medical record-keeping systems between different institutions. I’m happy to say that my support for this practice, along with the support of other physicians in the field, has had a profound effect in this area. Technology has caught up to our request and now it is much more common to obtain fast access to digital records. This has resulted in better outcomes for patients and the better overall functioning of the medical field. It’s a clear example of how using technology has helped us better achieve our goals.
The above information represents just a snapshot of the potential power of increased technology. Looking to the future, it’s clear that we’ve still got plenty of progress to be made in this area. As we continue to improve our access to technology, I predict we’ll see revolutions in medicine that we can yet only dream about. These revolutions may not come easily, but through the consistent effort of physicians across the country, we can help steer the field in that direction. This would be a true win for everyone and is one of the reasons I point to technology as one of the most fruitful paths for improving medical care.
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