Internet and Medicine
Since the inception of Mankind, the one concern that has survived over the centuries is Health concern. The world of Medicine has undergone tremendous changes from ancient times to present modern remote surgeries. Gone are days when only doctors used to understand the ailments and deceases and patients would blindly follow him. Beginning of 20th century has witnessed an evolution in the form of Internet and it transformed entire world let alone the technology field. Thanks to the emergence of Internet, it has transformed the field of Medicine too! The impact of Internet on Medicine can be lucidly seen at each stage of our visit to a physician or our appointment at a hospital. Nowadays, hospital staff or doctors seldom have direct contact with the patient; they have most of their interaction via Internet only.
Events that were never thought would be possible have become a routine due to rampant growth of Internet. One of those events is online consultation. It has become highly difficult for physicians and doctors to attend each case personally and for patients who are ever busy with their work, the doctor appointments are unaffordable time wise. To fill the gap, hospitals have come up with an innovative solution called online consultation or e-consultations. Many hospitals, clinics and independent practitioners are adding e-consultation widgets or features to their websites to contact with patients directly. Some specialties have now become online consultation only services too such as Radiology. This digital imaging medical service is taking the aid of Internet in examining the reports of remote patients and assisting them through telemedicine. As well as, other test reports like CT scan or blood samples are being analyzed and sent to other hospitals or professionals via Internet.
Internet is overflowing with health information and medicinal information. Patients now have access to all the information pertaining to health and medicine over Internet. Although some information is disinformation and some are over information, if the seeker is cautious, he/she gets the correct information. People are educating themselves via Internet on health conditions they are having. Physicians and doctors who encounter with such patients are 50% more satisfied about the communication between them and the patient because the explanation time has been exceptionally decreased when compared to the communication between doctor and unaware patient. The medical information is available in plethora in Internet through video tutorials, doctors’ blog, hospitals’ websites and health oriented blogs; even the hard tongue twisting medical jargon are demystified in those forums. Practically, Internet offers knowledge on almost every disease and illness in the medical world.
Virtual storage of health records
Earlier every file and every test or health record was saved on paper. The fear of losing those files or them getting damaged was intense in those days. Even when doctors wanted to examine the patient, they had to go through all the files manually unaware of which file accounts to which health condition. There was lot of confusion and clutter at that time but now things have changed for better. Health records are presently maintained virtually in cloud databases or online databases. Each health record is organized systematically according to health condition and each element of the health record is interlinked with element of another health record of the same person to make the search simpler at the time of consultation. In addition to that, Diagnostic centers or Laboratories are also sending the reports directly to the patient’s doctor so that there is no chance of record mislead. Another advantage is health records stored online are accessible to both patient and the doctor. Next time when a patient undergoes a test, he/she will update his/her report online in his profile and the doctor will prescribe appropriate medicine upon checking it online immediately. With this advancement in health care, numerous steps in between have been dissolved creating a more transparent communication.
Remote surgery or Telesurgery is a disruptive innovation in the medical history. It can be defined as an act of any type of surgery: orthopaedic surgery in the virgin islands, Arthroscopic surgery in Tokyo, or a medical operation without the physical presence of doctor and patient at the same place. Doctor with the help of robotic surgical system operates a patient who is far away from him. The patient is actually operated by a robot powered by artificial intelligence but the controls of the robot will be in hands of the doctor, who is elsewhere in front of a screen monitoring each moment of the robot. Although the technology involves robotics, communication technology and software development, the bridge that fills the gap between the robot and doctor is Internet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotic_surgery
Protection of health records
When the health records were offline, which means when they were maintained on paper, the probability of them being stolen was high. It is of utmost importance to protect health information of an individual and theft of such information is a criminal offense. With the emergence of Internet into medical field, the protection of patient’s identity and health records have gained strength. Health records are unique ID and password protected making it highly difficult for the intruders to get the information. Only health care providers and patients are permitted to access the information. Insurance companies and hospitals across the world are deriving heaps of profits through Internet technology.
E-commerce has stretched to pharmacy as well and is thriving. Purchasing of drugs online has become as simple as purchasing a dress online. Online prescriptions or e-prescriptions are prescription sans paper issued by health provider or physician to pharmacy. These pharmacies deliver the prescribed drugs to the respective patients in a smooth, uncomplicated process. Not only did the core medicine have benefitted from Internet, but also the peripheral departments of medicine have advanced concurrently. Studies have proved that online pharmacies are approximately worth a $2 billion business in the US.
Thus, Internet has empowered the medicine in an unexpected manner and is pushing the boundaries even farther to invite more and more advancements and innovative solutions into our lives for our own healthy living.