Public Health Technology Boom: Internet of Things for Healthcare

Not only does Public Health promote and protect the health of people, it has an impact on the communities in which these people live, learn, work and play. Public health professionals are constantly striving to solve community health issues in order to develop new policies. Prevention is key to public health as opposed to worrying about treatment after the disease or illness is already present in such population or individual.These professionals are also responsible for educating the public and empower everyday people about such health issues (List, n.d.).Studies have shown that there is a strong relationship between technological innovation and public health.

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More specifically, SEM data analyses results have given evidence to the fact that high levels of technological innovation were associated with a better public health (Gill, 2013).

With this connection, it is crucial for public health professionals to take technology into consideration when it comes to making informed decisions in terms of investment and improvement of healthcare as a whole. Despite the difficulties such as training employees and potential error of technological use, technology innovations have started to make an amazing impact on healthcare not only in organization and access for professionals, but for patients themselves.Technological innovations on a narrower scope can be studied as the Internet of Things for Healthcare, or IoT. This is the ability of physical devices, or otherwise known as smart devices, buildings, and other items that allow inter-networking capabilities due to the sensors and software embedded in them(Referral MD, 2017).Also, this idea can be commonly referred to as smart devices. Technology as a whole in healthcare is important to be studied as it connects to the economy of the population, the prevention of illness, care of patients, and efficiency of healthcare systems. Many examples of IoT in the United States are present and with the constant drive for medical improvement, it will only become more progressed and crucial to healthcare.

Overcoming Challenges

With the internet becoming a catalyst for new and improved ideas throughout developed countries such as the United States, it makes sense that it has found its way into healthcare systems. Healthcare is one of the most popular fields and for sure one that needs copious amounts of attention and constant overview. Improvement in technology due to the internet will have a variety of impacts on attempting to solve healthcare system challenges. Cost is a player in the effects of the implementation of these new internet inspired innovations and a huge emphasis is placed on prevention.Chronic DiseasesOne of the largest population health issues in the United States is chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia’s, and blood pressure. There is a constant strive to reduce these alarming rates of chronic disease as statistics show that chronic diseases will increase by 17% which can also be referred to as 64 million people (G??mez, Oviedo, & Zhuma, 2016).

As opposed to the typical old way of going to health centers for typical exams to check up on these diseases, technological advances allow for patients to take their vital signs daily. Patients will not only be able to monitor their health but will be able to improve their eating and exercise habits (G??mez et al., 2016).With the creation of the Fitbit, patients are able to track their activity, calories burned, and lifestyle as a whole right on their wrist, or on their smartphone.Cardiac arrhythmias have been easier diagnosed and monitored due to the mobile Cardiac Outpatient Telemetry and sensor that adheres like a band aid to the patients’ skin. These sensors allow for the transmission of data to physicians the moment it is available which makes the diagnosis time faster. There is a cost reduction of hospital readmissions due to the constant monitoring of the patients (Couturier, Sola, Scarso Borioli, & Raiciu, 2012). The only downfall to this could be the accessibility to all patients in terms of their insurance allowing it to be cost affordable.Also, there is now a monitoring device that uses a blood pressure and glucose monitor for those with diabetes. Physicians and healthcare professionals are able to help patients interpret these results as it communicates the information to a server that can be accessed on a PC or cellular device (Couturier et al., 2012).

Inter-professional Roles & Ethical Decision Making

One of the most important effects of this technological boom with the internet in healthcare is the fact that it allows for greater inter-professional integration. The internet can allow for different care providers of patients to communicate with each other electronically when it comes to deciding a plan of treatment or procedure routine. Information on each patient can be gathered rapidly on one device which can ultimately shorten the time it takes to make a diagnosis(National Academies Press, 2000).Miscommunication between different healthcare professionals of different specialties is minimized and there is a greater outlook on patient-centered care.The more inter-professional collaboration and organization, the easier it is to make difficult ethical decisions in regard to a patient. With all files easily accessible as mentioned, the internet allows for different healthcare professionals to communicate and collaborate about the same patient easier. If a patient is dealing with mental health issues, needs physical therapy, and also is dealing with heart issues, all different professionals need to be on board and keep track of this patient’s case.

Also, in terms of ethical decision making, technology has made it easier to emphasize shared-decision making, the new peak of patient-centered care. Shared-decision making allows the patients to have more of a voice in their treatment as they are educated by healthcare professionals and guided to make the best decision. The healthcare professionals and patients become partners in the decision making as opposed to the typical patient-doctor relationship. Statistics show that there are disparities in what is deemed successful for shared-decision making based on each patients’ different socio-demographic characteristics. Also, it was found that worse patient-reported health outcomes were associated with poor shared-decision making (Hughes et al., 2018). The internet plays a role in this process as patients also have the opportunity to view their health records and learn about the various treatment technologies.

Cost & Comfort

The internet allows for hospitals to monitor and alert physicians of patients in their home which gives the patients the opportunity to be in the comfort of their own home for longer, but not any less safe. Not only does this comfort the patient a little more than a hospital bed would, it saves them money and stress when it comes to constant checkups (Couturier et al., 2012). Despite the costs of some of the newest technology, patients should take advantage of these internet accessible tools. Most patients are more comfortable knowing that there are devices they can access right in their home in order to improve and monitor their own healthcare.Statistics show that since 1975, the number of hospital beds per 1,0000 people enrolled has decreased from 51 to 28 while the number of patients receiving home health care between 1982 and 1994 almost tripled. Also, the number of home health agencies have grown from approximately 2,300 to near 8,500(National Academy of Sciences, 2000).

These numbers are outstanding considering that this has only improved over the years beyond 2000. Comfort can be tied to the dramatic change in consumer health due to the internet. Patients are now able to communicate on a more personal level with their doctors as they are able to e-mail and have access to their own personal health records(National Academies Press, 2000).Patients have the freedom to give their input in their health journey. If patients are more intertwined into what their doctors are doing, they will be more understanding and willing to accept the help.

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