Advancements in technology constantly make the world more efficient, but there is arguably no area that has been more impacted by technological advancements than the field of medicine.
As a result of developments in medical technology, healthcare providers in all verticals are able to treat a greater number of patients more effectively and more efficiently.
Switching to the newest, most advanced medical technologies is essential in modern healthcare; at the least adopting new technologies can be expected to increase efficiency for a practice or hospital, and at the most, it could even be the difference that helps save a life.
What is considered medical technology?
You might think of medical technology as something that is new, but in fact, medical technology has been around for centuries. That is because it is a term that covers anything and everything that has been developed in order to improve medical care — and by extension, improving quality of life and extending peoples’ lives.
As such, anything from latex gloves and scrubs to wheelchairs and gurneys, to research and databases accessed to save lives can be considered medical technology.
However, as we move further into an age of digital transformation, it is fair to say that advanced medical technology has evolved to become something that is almost in a category of its own. Healthcare is no longer simply analog, and the newest technology innovations mean that even the simplest processes — such as checking in for a doctor’s appointment — can now be fully digital.
What are some examples of medical technology?
The term “medical technology” covers any number of things from those tools used for diagnosis, such as:
- Heart monitors
- MRI scanners
- X-ray machines
- Mammography machines
- Ultrasound machines
- Blood pressure cuffs
And any other devices used by doctors to check vitals and diagnose patients.
Other examples of healthcare technology include those that are used for treatment after diagnosis, such as:
- Insulin pumps
- CPAP machines
- Dialysis machines
- IV drips
However, in a digital age, medical technology no longer simply describes hardware. Certain software programs and medical information technologies have made a more significant impact on the medical field than perhaps any other healthcare technology. This comes in the form of upgraded devices and “smart” machines, as well as digitized records and patient-facing tools such as apps and cloud-based scheduling programs.
Why do we need medical technology?
It would be a mistake to think that medical technology is done evolving.
We need new medical technology to not only diagnose both benign and life-threatening illnesses, but to help all of us as providers determine the best course of action, and then act on it.
For that to happen, though, change is necessary.
For example, take something like a picture archiving and communication system (PACS). Once, patient information and images such as x-rays could only be reproduced physically and stored in a filing cabinet; now, digital resources give us a new level of efficiency. You don’t even have to spend time scanning physical images to send them to other departments or facilities. PACS software allows practices to collect digital images, and immediately store them in a cloud-based platform with infinite storage capacity, full security, and easy transference to other facilities.
Advances in medical technology once meant that a needle for sutures was designed to be curved instead of straight, or a hospital bed was given wheels, and while we have come so far since then, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. Medical information technologies are changing the way that healthcare functions by making it more efficient, lessening delays and loss of information.
In order to provide the highest quality of care for patients with the highest success rates, embracing new technologies once they are tested and available is more important than ever!