New Technologies In Healthcare Essay Samples
The debate on matters within the healthcare system sparkles interests and controversies. The introduction of computer-support in healthcare environment serves more to ignite debate and unravel serious concerns. Besides, the establishment of information technologies within the healthcare sector is a reflection of the rapid changes occurring in the industry. The initiators believe that computerization is pertinent to meeting the increasingly complex healthcare needs. Notably, many applications and computer systems characterize the modern healthcare delivery systems.one of the outstanding technological invention applicable in hospitals is the electronic record system. Essentially, the electronic record comprises of both the non-medical and medical information of a person.in addition, ICT tools and applications that enhance the establishment of support mechanisms and often facilitate diagnosis. Some of the health technologies and computer systems facilitate services such as electronic medical recording, telehealth, electronic clinical support systems and online healthcare (McLean, 2010). For example, some technologies provide diagnosis reports, drug prescriptions, and alert practitioners for check-ups among other functions. While the use of technologies in healthcare improves efficiency, many ethical implications occur that compromises the quality of healthcare systems.
The new technologies are pertinent to improving the standard of care through serving as informative tools for both providers and patients. The health information is accessible to a patient in a direct manner even without the presence of clinics, physicians or hospitals to determine what is available. However, the quality of online health information is at times subject to compromise and may fail to meet the evidence-based practice standards because of commercial influences (McLean, 2010). Ethically, the availability of health information to everyone is advantageous only if the commercial interests and other motives do not compromise its appropriateness, accuracy and usability.
While traditionally most information was obtained through a patient-doctor conversation, modern technologies have made medical decisions a matter involving many practitioners, others who do not meet with the patient. Specifically, this leads to mixing of impersonal control mechanisms with personal relationships. In this manner, the technological systems allow for control of drug dosages for patients without their input. The patient under these circumstances is engulfed in a technological blanket and considered as a weak link with negligible input in communications regarding treatment. As such, lack of transparency becomes an ethical issue because the patient cannot even retrieve his/her medical information.
Similarly, the use of technologies and computer applications such as electronic health record system may violate the confidentiality and privacy of patient information (European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, 2013). The patients often express concerns and displeasure for electronic storage of their medical information because they believe it is against their trustful relationship with nurses or doctors. With the online storage of patient medical date, accessibility of such information is made easier. On the other hand, storage of medical history of a patient online raises information safety issues, which largely have not been addressed. For, example it is possible that the patient information can be hacked, and this will compromise the privacy and confidentiality of such data.
As new technologies become available and constantly evolve, the skills essential in accessing and using such technologies in an appropriate manner require an urgent advancement before the sophistication of such technologies proves problematic. When more technological inventions become available, the risk for misinformation, misuse of information and missing information increases, and can lead to a situation where the end users are incompetent and dissatisfied. Many forms of information technology such as laptops, Personal Digital Assistants, and cell phones are common in all places in society. When such electronic gadgets are used outside the homes and other relatively safe places, the ethical information integrity concern creates a parallel issue about confidentiality and privacy of health information (McLean, 2010). Furthermore, the health information technologies can potentially compromise the relationship between clinical outcomes, the quality of care, patients and providers. Ultimately, because of the controversies and safety of information, new health technologies need a balanced approach to allow for beneficial uses and create information safety.
Moral theory is pertinent to ethical issues that occur in the use of technological inventions in healthcare delivery (Brown & Brown, 2010). The Moral theory outlines different ethical concepts observable from several viewpoints.one of the ethical principles that healthcare practitioners derive from the moral theory is the deontological view to morality. Usually, the deontological approach recognizes specific duties and moral obligations. The specific obligations under deontology may be negative, for example, calls against stealing or positive in the case of situations like caring for the family. Sometimes, the deontological approach to morality is described as non-consequential because its principles are not subject to compromise, but always obligatory. For example, a physician using technology for patient treatment knows that he/she must use it effectively to save a life because killing is wrong.
Ethical questions occur with the use of technological applications such as treatment support systems that may not allow the patient an opportunity to express his/ her right to self-determination. Usually, physicians may overuse the online health information in decision-making and prescribe drugs for a patient based on the previous history, which may not always work. For example, a patient some diseases have similar symptoms, and when the physicians conduct diagnosis by looking at the previous medical records, errors may occur which means that the patient's autonomy is under compromise. The categorical imperative concept of the deontological theories obliges physicians to offer treatment to patients as an end and not becoming opportunistic of the situation and treating them as a means to an end (McLean, 2010). More specifically, this principle means that physicians have an obligation to use technologies in a manner that benefits the patients instead of using them to make their work manageable and enjoyable.
Secondly, the medical futility theory portrays historic pertinence in medicine. The principle obliges the medical practitioners to avoid providing treatment services when the medical interventions at disposal fail to give straightforward positive outcomes (Brown & Brown, 2010). While this principle may appear patient-centered, it may not be easily applicable amidst the growing significance of informed consent and patient autonomy in treatment decisions. With the many forms of technology in healthcare and their sophistication, the treatment options need to be an agreement between the patient and physician. Physicians using the medical futility theory have the authority to limit a patient’s right to refute treatment. In essence, patients have a right to provide input to what they consider beneficial treatment and physicians are obliged to assess the situation to determine whether a particular procedure is futile based on their experience and knowledge of the effects on the patient. With technological applications in healthcare, physicians may not apply over rely on the automated technological assessments that can compromise the quality of care and cause harm to the patient.
Pertinently, the moral rights theory is central to describing the ethical concerns with new health technologies. The theory proposes that persons have the right to confidentiality, privacy, freedom and health. In the era of health technologies such as electronic data storage, patients have a right to confidentiality, and their information safety issues must be fully addressed. Third parties in a manner that violates the moral rights of patients to information confidentiality and privacy may access electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and laptops. Ethically, this access compromises trust between patients and physicians and may compromise the quality of care.
The use of new technologies in healthcare becomes pertinent if only there is a close examination to address the occurrence of unintended harm. Mostly, patient autonomy and confidentiality are key considerations before any adoption of technological inventions into the healthcare system. Normally, ethical obligations involve decisions taken on behalf of patients to safeguard their personal information and address their health problems. In the pursuit of autonomy, patient information needs safe and private storage except when the patient under consent agrees to share the information (Brown & Brown, 2010). The correct form of communication that guarantees the confidentiality of information should be used at all times when sharing medical information. Communication through email may not be the best form because when sending an email it is not easy to determine who will be accessing it.
Many safeguards are applicable in hospitals to enhance the confidentiality of information and privacy of the patients. Legally, patients must authorize the sharing of their information with a third party. The patients or their legal representatives are obliged to sign a waiver that permits the sharing of their medical information with third parties. Pertinently, as a measure of confidentiality and information security it is important to monitor the access of information by users and limit such access when necessary. Often, there are two access systems applicable to different situations.one of the systems is a role-based and access to digital information is allowed only when there is need to conduct work functions. Alternatively, the open access system is useful for providing universal access to the full digital record to all healthcare professionals regardless of their roles. The chief privacy officer monitors the utilization of the electronic record to ensure that information remains confidential. Besides, the federal and state law protections of privacy, there is variation among such laws, which means that some laws provide more protection than others do.
According to McLean (2010), the implementation of the health accountability and portability Act will help in maintaining the privacy of patients and the safety of their medical information. Under these Act, it is obligatory for health workforce to use their IDs in accessing the patient electronic information, log off not share their IDs to prevent unauthorized access. Strictly, these obligations apply to students who may need temporal access of the patient records to in their roles of providing and documenting care services.
In addition, measures to ensure compliance with the hospital regulations and policies can include regular audits. In cases of inappropriate access to electronic patient information, audit reports can reveal all the details such as the duration of the review, the time, date and number of screens accessed. The information is essential to ascertain whether the access occurred because of irresponsible unauthorized access or because of inherent errors. Patients have a right to obtain logs of all physicians that they believe accessed their records, and provision of such information to patients is by care providers should be obligatory. Moreover, sanctions for breach of procedures and regulations need to include punitive disciplinary actions and termination of the health worker contract upon a massive disregard of the privacy and information safety provisions.
According to European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission ( 2013), outside vendors considerably cause privacy concerns. In the case of worker-only access, any external vendor will only view the record while within the hospital premises and under the supervision of an oversight officer. In circumstances where off-site access may be required, the contents releases may be limited by the use of a telefax report. Essentially, the external persons or consultants must meet the specific requirements of the hospital before any authorized agreement can be provided. For, example, provision of the social security code is one of the requirements that can be adopted to safeguard patient electronic information and their privacy.
Because the legal sanctions in a hospital facility are binding, standards of diligence will be kept higher and easily applicable. Without, the use of technology, the paper records could prove difficult to audit, and any breach of confidentiality could prove difficult to track. In these circumstances, the use of technology makes it possible to seal against any information breach, and this only happens under ethical utilization and storage of medical information.
The use of regulations to enforce privacy and respect for the confidentiality of health information of a patient is one of the best alternatives for addressing the ethical concerns of using new technologies in healthcare. The principle of autonomy dictates that a patient has a right to make a choice or contribute to a treatment process. In this respect, the physicians have a right to make decisions that are likely to benefit the patient and while taking into consideration of the patients right for self-determination.
The respect for autonomy allows the health practitioners to accommodate the views of a patient regarding a particular form of treatment (European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, 2013). Respect for autonomy creates transparency and ensures that a patient is a strong link in the treatment process. Ethically, health professionals must assure the patient of his/her privacy and safety of their electronic information. The physicians, therefore, have an obligation to use the patient’s electronic record in a manner that reflects consent from the patient. In essence, both the physician and patient create the electronic health record and therefore it should be shared and not used for physicians with disregard to the best interests of the patient.
Additionally, the categorical imperative concept of the deontological theories obliges physicians to offer treatment to patients as an end and not becoming opportunistic of the situation and treating them as a means to an end. More specifically, this principle means that physicians have an obligation to use technologies in a manner that benefits the patients instead of using them to make their work manageable and enjoyable.in essence, this principle best address the ethical concerns with the use of healthcare technologies because it gives a patient the right to self-determination. Similarly, this principle allows the patient to permit sharing of his/her information with third parties within the strict confines of the legislation (McLean, 2010).
The introduction of computer-support in healthcare environment serves more to ignite debate and unravel serious concerns. Besides, the establishment of information technologies within the healthcare sector is a reflection of the rapid changes occurring in the industry. Ethical questions occur with the use of technological applications such as treatment support systems that may not allow the patient an opportunity to express his/ her right to self-determination. In addition, there are ethical concerns about patient electronic information confidentiality and privacy. However, with proper use of legislation and development of reliable computer systems, ethical issues can be addressed.
Brown, M., & Brown, S. (2010). Ethical Issues and Security Monitoring Trends in Global Healthcare: Technological Advancements. IGI Global.
European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission. (2013). Ethical issues of healthcare in the information society. Brussels: European Commission Secretariat-General.
McLean, S. (2010). First do no harm: Law, technology, ethics and healthcare. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.
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