Technologyand its Impacts on Healthcare Ethics
Technologyand its Impacts on Healthcare Ethics
Deneckeet al. (2015) argued that over the years, the healthcare sector hasexperienced considerable technological advances that have affectedthe industry positively and negatively with respect to medicalethics. By definition, medical ethics entails all the issues relatedto the relationship between the patients and doctors in the course ofhealthcare service delivery. The advent of information technology inthe health facilities such as those related to the use of socialmedia and electronic medical records influence the nature of theabove relationship this essay presents the influences suchinnovation pose in the healthcare facilities regarding ethics.
PositiveImpacts of Technology on Healthcare Ethics
Technologicalprogress of the 21st century plunged the healthcare system into a newera of practice involving the application of computer-basedelectronic health information technology (EHIT) in capturing,storing, retrieving, and analyzing large volumes of the protectedhealth data. The mention of protected data implies that the arrivalof EHIT has helped secure data related to pasts of individuals,present, and upcoming physical as well as mental health status,treatment, condition, products bought, service, or healthcareprovision. Whether the information is oral, electronic, written,pictorial, or physical, EHIT ensures their protection while revealingthe information about the patient and scrutinize the data input toverify if it is usable. With the adoption of EHIT and the integrationof social media, health organizations have simplified communicationbetween physicians and patients, training programs for caregivers andthe elderly, and crowd-sourcing as well as engaging the youth throughsocial media (Denecke et al., 2015). An institution that is ethicallycompetent must be able to protect data, involve people through rapidcommunication, and offer training and development programs to staffand or non-staff.
Astrue as it is, Denecke et al. (2015) asserted that social media suchas Facebook and Twitter allows ready consultations between physiciansand doctors and the use of modern cell phones which can access theinternet have bolted the roles of the media in information sharingconcerning health. Besides, telecare is now in its rightful place,and the rights of the elderly (patients) and practicing doctors inthe use of social media for training on health-related issues at lowcost is now possible. In fact, a brand innovation has seen theintroduction of wearable technologies in the field of medicine thesehelp patients to track their health records from home and reactappropriately based on the common outcomes. For example, diabeticpatients no longer need to see a doctor frequently thanks to theinclusion of fitness trackers such as MyFitnessPal in cell phonedevices to aid in self-health promotion and maintenance. That, initself, has reduced the ethical concerns of patient discriminationwith respect to costs and other cultural and social issues regardingone-on-one patient-doctor relationships.
NegativeImpacts of Technology on Healthcare Ethics
Althoughthe use of EHIT has been instrumental in the protection of healthinformation while social media technology supports easypatient-physician communication flow, there are ethical problems thatcome with their application. First, uncontrolled utilization of EHITresults in the access of electronic health records by anonymousresearchers, companies, and other parties and, therefore, the abuseof confidentiality and privacy as it relates to patient-healthpractitioner relationship has been on the rise. Secondly, the use ofsocial media presents many ethical challenges in relation toconfidentiality, age, crowdsourcing as well as communication in thehealthcare systems (Denecke et al., 2015). The communication betweenclients and doctors is classified as highly confidential because itdetails medical information such as treatment, data on disease,prescriptions, and therapies. However, the use of social mediafeatures the tendency to leak such records thereby degrading theprivacy and trust attached to doctor-patient information sharing.Similarly, the use of social media to conduct public surveys has metcritical ethical concerns as people aged below 18 years can accessthe internet and gives their responses without being guided suchanswers are more or less inaccurate due to limited experience amongthe subjects (Denecke et al., 2015). In tandem with that, the role ofsocial media in crowdsourcing, that is, the web-based gathering ofinformation concerning treatment, diagnosis, and other health issuesfrom the public faces significant criticism.
Evenwith the recent integration of EHIT and social media in the clinicalsetting and electronic health record, Denecke et al. (2015) observedthat the confidentiality, privacy, and trust accorded to theinformation generated through the interaction of patients andphysicians is fast depreciating. Finally, the use of wearabletechnologies such as the third party software that comes withSmartphone accessories to generate health data faces the problem oftraining patients on their application as well as the prior need toconsider one’s consent in using the wearable devices. For example,it is possible to use fitness trackers such as MyFitnessPal inmobiles to assists in the management of diabetic patients only if thegroup gives their consensus and prove their familiarity with its useotherwise, the information generated will be unreliable.
Fromthe above considerations, it is patent concluded that technology hashad positive and adverse outcomes regarding healthcare ethics and itsapplication must, therefore, be backed up with strategies aimed toprevent the latter impacts.
Denecke,K., Bamidis, P., Bond, C., Gabarron, E., Househ, M., Lau, A. Y. S.,… & Hansen, M. (2015). Ethical issues of social media usage inhealthcare. Yearbookof medical informatics, 10(1),137.