Josh Arrage's essay on the topic of "How is Technology Effecting Our Health Today?". This essay was one of the two winner's of Pacific Prime's 2014 Global Diversity Scholarship. For being awarded the scholarship, Josh was given a US$500 grant.
Technology, when applied to health, has affected mass quantities of people all across the globe. Health technology has come a long way, and allows the people of the world to live longer, fuller lives. From the discovery of penicillin, to technology leading to clean water, to the present levels of surgery performed today, and devices such as the bionic pancreas of the future, technology is constantly improving both Medical and Public Health for people all across the world.
Just over a century ago, the life expectancy of the United States was over thirty years lower than it is today. Much of this improvement can be attributed to the use of better Public Health technology. Most notably, making water and food safer to consume. Improvements in water purification and food processing, played a large role in helping to make sure the average US citizen lived an extra thirty years. Focusing more on today, that sort of technology gets taken for granted in the US, but it is still the technology that is most dramatically affecting our health, and the health of the world. Many developing nations are trying to catch up to the level of sanitation technology of the US, and as they do, life expectancy in these countries climbs. This technology may seem trivial in a society where AIDS can be treated, open heart surgeries are successful over 95 percent of the time, and many vaccines exist for infectious diseases, but it is this technology that saves the most lives. It is because of this technology, that much of the health technology focus of today can be on combating chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
It is hard to discuss technology without discussing computers, TVs, or cell phones, and when it comes to better health technology, these items play a role as well. We have looked at the Public Health and Medical sides of technology on a population level, now focus will switch to small-scale individuals and how technology is helping them take control of their health. In hospitals all across the US, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Personal Health Records (PHR) are replacing paper and filing cabinets. EMRs allow physicians to more quickly enter patient’s information, diagnosis, prescriptions, etc, and PHRs are designed to house all of the patient’s tests, medicines, vital signs, and any other pertinent health information. Patients are allowed to have access to their PHR so that they can track their health and be informed on how to make themselves healthier. I believe this is one of the best technological advancements in health today because of how effective it can be. It allows patient’s to take control of their health and understand how to be healthy. It is all housed in one place, making it easy for patients to see every bit of information they could ever need. This will help individuals stay out of the hospital, and in control of their health. EMRs and PHRs may seem like trivial technological advancements compared to vaccines, surgical equipment, and new medicines, but EMRs and PHRs have the potential to prevent ever needing to use the advancements in medical technology, and that is the kind of affect creators of health technology should be looking for. Technology like computers and TVs has also affected health in a negative way. One can argue these have led to the increased sedentary lifestyle of the US and the obesity epidemic. They are certainly not the only cause, but no doubt have played a role.
A novel could be written describing all the ways technology affects the health of today. Without advancements in technology, there can be no advancements in health. On a population level, without creating proper sanitation equipment for food, water, and sewage, our life expectancy would not be where it is today. This technology is still one of the most effective today on the health of all. On an individual level, technology as simple as PHRs and EMRs has the power to keep individuals out of hospitals and healthier just by giving them control and knowledge about their health. Even though technology can have some negative effects on health, what the future holds is very bright.