The introduction and use of computers in primary health care provision in the United Kingdom has progressed slowly due to lack of proper coordination. This has necessitated calls with proposals to change policies so as to improve primary health care. According to researchers, proper coordination might enhance the use of suitable application of information technology. This paper will highlight on the benefits and challenges besides practical proposals for effective development (Markku at el, 2006).
ICT and Medicine: From the time ICT was incepted and applied in the pathways of health care in the United Kingdom, patients have experienced tremendous improvement at all stages of health care provision. This has mainly been necessitated by the fact that technology improves communication between the health care system and its consumers. One of its advantages could be its transacting administrative ability, convenience in accessing information as well as minimizing the need for regular visits to the clinic, hospital or doctor. It has provided various ways in which consumers can reach health information through NHS Choices mobile directory, Feedback services like that offered by Patient Option that gives consumers with the alternative to change health care delivery (Royal Commission on Long Term Care, 1999).
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Technology may have an impact on the relationship between patients and their carers and or other medical experts in ways that may sometimes be perceived as counterproductive. For example, some doctors view the availability of online information to patients as a threat to the delicate balance of the patient-clinician relationship, Royal Society 2006). Patients, on the other hand, may be concerned that the relationship with their carers could be replaced by one with a machine.
Patient Records SCR: The electronic health record card has the ability to track the patient and allows staff treating or taking care for patients to easily access information about them, therefore improving diagnosis and care.
Electronic Prescription Service: The Electronic Prescription Service enables those providing prescription services such as GPs and practice nurses, to send prescriptions electronically to dispensers like pharmacies of the patient's choice. This has revitalized prescribing and dispensing processes therefore making it to be safe and convenient for patients and staff (Royal Commission on Long Term Care, 1999).
Choose and Book: ICT has provided the opportunity for online booking services as well as touch-screen patient check-in systems that offer patients more autonomy on the consultation process with their preferred medical expert and therefore empower them (Technology in Action 2008). It also offers monitoring and alarm facilities that help patients to sustain an independent life while bed-nursing at home for patients who might have to be cared for in a medical facility. Besides, there are devices that can check the level of blood glucose while others are able to monitor the use of anticoagulants help to save patients from unnecessary visits to the clinic or hospital.
Individual applications located anywhere for both patients are available. In medicine, ICT has had adverse positive effects beyond the doctors' and hospital databases. It is evident that other areas that have recorded substantial effects from ICT include computers that control diagnostic machineries. In addition, computer analysis of information collected from diagnostic equipment (Royal Commission on Long Term Care, 1999). This is evident since images from NRM scans that are very unintelligible get processed and interpreted clearly by computers and therefore helping doctors to give the correct prescriptions to the patient. Expert systems can avail doctors with information regarding diseases that are uncommon. For medical consultants, guidelines and online access to research results and protocols on searchable databanks offer easy reference to the current knowledge reservoir. Preventive care has also been greatly facilitated by information technology (Wanless, 2007). For instance, monitoring someone's vital signs like blood sugar, respiratory function or weight might help to avoid needless hospital admissions.
Web Based Support /Diagnosis: These systems are also referred to as knowledge-based systems in computers with the ability to replicate human performance. These computers are able to attend to patients in the same way that human doctors do (Wanless, 2007). Besides, through nanotechnology diagnostic body area networks web based support development has provided patients with small and easy to swallow sensors (NHS Modernisation Agency, 2004). These sensors are able to perform various diagnostic functions including endoscopy, biochemical to temperature measurements. Diagnostic findings from these sensors are sent wirelessly to sensors which then make the information available to doctors who have receptive sensors. In addition, through access to medical journals and or research material, it has provided symptoms diagnosis, to people who do not want to consult with a general practitioner. Nonetheless, it has provided extensive information on available treatment as well as offering tangible data on the side effects of particular medications.This has made medical examinations for complex diseases to be easy to diagnose and treat.
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Telecare: According to studies, telecare computerized therapy can be used by patients in a home setting using any internet-enabled personal computer. Nonetheless, in telecare patients are given a transceiver to ware. Such transceivers have the capacity to collect and store limited data from the sensor inside the body will be able to store only a limited amount of data. The best solution to this problem is for the transceiver to download the data to a central hub(Wanless, 2007).
Information Technology has greatly improved primary care in the United Kingdom by enabling exemplary ways and facilities to offer services to people through telecare. For instance, the provision of Home hub and sensors, Telecare as well as telehealth sensors like vitalsigns monitoring systems that are wirelessly connected to a central hub these are able to identify personal area network or local area network then send the message to the clinician. Through these hubs, most medical personnel would interact with patients by asking questions or even informing them in advance about vital signs that are out of range.
These movable computers particularly made for health care professionals include primary diagnostic testing kits besides having decision support systems capable to access online medical records. They would also include technology for video and imagery.
In addition, Information Technology has helped patients to know more about their conditions and therefore resulting to patient encouragement, which lead to better clinical effects. Information Technology has supported NHS initiatives by providing information on preventive care matters therefore making people to make healthier choices. This is evident in the manner in which people have avoided practices that could lead to ill health (Department of Health, 2007). Through IT, the benefits of a people with increased understanding on health and increased knowledge of disease are well recognized (Royal Society 2006). The introduction of modern electronic media as an informative tool to deliver information has molded attitudes as well as helping in changing behavior significantly. The lasting positive effects of IT also provide good examples of how well technology can be applied in healthcare (World Health Organization, 2003).
ICT on Dementia Care: In the United Kingdom ICT on dementia care has shown evidence that the work computers do add value to day care activities. For instance, computers are most effective tools when used by staff since they serve in vital parts of everyday activities in the dementia day centre. In the findings, computer use indicated that it increased in dementia the willingness to explore new things, increased conversation and engagement, as well as increasing the sense of individual self-worth in them. In addition, emails and webcams helped dementia person to resume connections with distant family relations while those making the involved dementia patients to serve as mentors (Wanless, 2007). This IT project among the dementia people provided encouragement to some dementia individuals who had few examples to draw towards. It also offered staff working in the dementia section with up to date skills to handle people under their care.
Communication-teleconferencing among Surgeons: Nonetheless, the role of health care professionals has considerably changed (Markku at el, 2006). This is evident since, through teleconferencing, surgeons are able to consult fellow surgeons on particular surgery cases. Surgeons, through teleconferencing have been able to provide much needed information online therefore making other surgeons provide health care services to patients.
Disabilities: It is estimated that about 15% of people in the United Kingdom are impaired in one way or another. Computer systems have enabled and improved communication to this group of people. It has also offered them with an opportunity employment as well as the ability to be independent. For instance, it has provided voice recognition facilities that can be used to convert speeches into printed output for the hearing impaired persons. In addition, for physically impaired people, it has offered special pointing equipments that allow interaction through computers. It has also avail to those are visually disabled with vision systems that are attached with detectors to support their vision. Moreover, there are scanners that are able to convert printed material into verbal out put so that it can be used by visually impaired people. Finally, it has made available computerized facilities that are implanted in physically impaired people in order to better their mobility (Markku at el, 2006).
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Conclusion: In conclusion, the introduction and implementation of ICT technology systems has enabled major developments in social and organizational changes in the United Kingdom. The use of ICT allows resources in the health service to revitalize the ageing population as well as increasing morbidity (NHS Modernisation Agency, 2004). The adoption and proper application of ICT use by consumers in the United Kingdom varies from individual to individual based on the choice to adopt the technology that best suits their needs and situation. Despite that, the United Kingdom health care department has recorded slow adoption and implementation of information technology (IT) usage. This is due poor coordination and use of ICT in the primary health care. According to research, United Kingdom's failure to adopt IT use is due to complexities of health organizations as well as their fragmented internal structure (NHS Modernisation Agency, 2004)..