The New York Times has an article titled, "Technology can improve healthcare." This is actually an interesting topic because some would argue that recent advances in technology have done a disservice to the health care industry. Expensive tests may be diagnosing certain diseases earlier, but they are also being misused by many and this is causing health care costs to soar. Additionally, the misuse of high-tech scans like CT scans are increasing exposure to radiation and also leading to unnecessary diagnostic procedures when "incidentalomas" are found on imaging studies. So, how do you maintain a healthy balance?
I'm hoping that more focus will be placed on the use of technology to improve the overall health care system. We need better ways to diagnose and treat diseases. We also need better ways to educate patients and improve communication among health care professionals. Advances in health IT ought to improve patient care by reducing medical errors and improving the way patient data gets accessed. Plus, technology is making it easier for physicians to practice evidence-based medicine if they're using the right types of clinical decision support tools in their daily practice.
So, although we live in a country where we have access to some of the greatest advances in technology, we need to make sure that we're not misusing these resources. There's a fine line between empowering the patient vs. giving them resources so they can self-diagnose and self-treat serious conditions. I get nervous when people tell me that they're self-diagnosing all these conditions by researching things on the Internet.