The history of health care and computers has always been complicated. In health care, computers have always been used in some way, but recently computers have been used more than ever. In the nineteenth century, fewer computers were being used than in the twentieth century. In 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen used electromagnetic radiation to take images of the body, including his wife’s hand with her wedding ring (McKellar). This was the first time someone’s body was X-rayed, and now X-rays are used all the time. The invention of the X-ray was a big improvement in the medical field. Then, in the late 1920s, ray technology in the hospitals was done by radiologists, who were required to use the accreditation system established in 1918 by the American College of Surgeons (McKellar). A department was created around the X-ray, and that improved the level of care. The X-rays showed what was going on inside the body, especially in the bones of the patient.
Later in the mid-19th century, new laboratory-based technologies, such as bacteriology, antisepsis, X-rays, and a host of new therapeutic substances and regimes were interrogated into hospital practices (Sturdy). Hospitals were starting to use more computers to improve patient care. The implementation of computers in hospitals was intended to improve patient care and make it easier to help patients. There is far more technology now then back then. Unlike the” nineteenth-century tools of the individual medical practitioner, medical technology in the twentieth century involved large, expensive equipment purchased by hospitals and was used by teams of technicians and medical professionals” (McKellar). Hospitals are getting more technology, and this shows that in the 19th century, less technology was used than in the 20th century. Hospitals switched from tools that were used to more modern technology that was easier to use and helped patients. Then, in the 20th century, the electronic patient record emerged with a large information system that could be sought to integrate clinical information about patients (McKellar). Doctors are now using computers to keep records of patients records, making them easier to find. The improvement in care was also increased when the computers were put in hospitals.
The old ways that doctors used before computers were slower and more wasteful. Humans are bound to make mistakes or forget something. Humans are responsible for filling automated dispensing cabinets with the right medication for the patient, and that risks the medication being wrong because of medications that are spelled similarly (Shoenfeld). That can cause a patient to have a reaction or, worse, possibly die because the wrong medication is being taken. If the patient is taking a medication that reacts badly with another medication that they are talking about, that can cause life-altering effects or death. A patient who takes the wrong medication can have deadly effects.
Paper records take up a lot of space, and finding space for all the doctors’ patients can be difficult. All the records that have been collected over the years have caused a lack of space for medical records (Cynar). This can lead to records being lost or thrown out by accident. Losing the records leads to important information being lost that could help the doctor make decisions. Losing important information on a patient can lead to the patient’s death. Mechanical records that are on paper must be handwritten. When you have handwritten notes, the handwriting can be messy, or there can be too many copies with different versions in a folder (Cynar). Not being able to read the notes that are on the record is very dangerous. Not being able to read the handwriting can lead to mistakes with the medication that was given and what medication the patient can’t have. Many medication names are very similar to each other. Having too many copies with different versions can cause confusion and the inability to know which one is the right one. Paper records can be destroyed by many things. There is a change that “paper medical records can be destroyed in fires, natural disasters, or other catastrophes” (Cynar). The loss of medical records can be dangerous when it comes to knowing what medications the patients are on or what operations they have had. Lost medical records lead to patients’ deaths or long-term effects. Lawsuits can be filed against the doctors for losing records or giving the wrong medications to a patient. On the other hand, paper records can often be a more reliable way of storing the information, and they are a low-cost system to use.
The new way is that doctors use computers to make patient care more effective. Medical records are now electronic, which makes finding information easier and faster. Electronic health records are “software that’s used to securely document, store, retrieve, share, and analyze information about individual patient care” (Health IT). This makes doctors get information more efficiently and faster, especially when the patient is new to them. Having to fill out the same information on different forms can get annoying, and electronic records eliminate that. Electronic records are better because of their “adoption, implementation, and improvement. These include planning, selecting a vendor, contracting with a vendor, implementing and adopting an EHR, using your EHR, and optimizing or replacing your EHR” (Health IT). The records are better organized, and it is easier to find information about the patient.
Another new system that is used is the electronic medication administration record. This system “enables pharmacists to fill prescriptions with hand-held scanners that read barcodes on the medication packaging. The barcode information includes valuable data, such as medication dosages, number of refills, medication classifications, patient refill history, and real-time prescription status. The system instantly transmits the data to the pharmacist and nurse workstations” (Shoenfeld). This system makes it easier to fill the medication faster and ensures that there are no mistakes. The fewer mistakes that are made when disturbing medication, the better, so that patients are not affected.
The new ways are safer for the patient and the workers involved. Hospitals use “prescribed drugs and doses would be computer-vetted against each patient to forestall life-threatening medication errors” (Haupt). This lowers the risk of a human making the mistake that could kill the patient. The fewer errors that humans make, the higher the level of care. Electronic records in hospitals “provide up-to-date clinical information and decision support tools “(Haupt). This makes it easier to help the patient and know what medications the patients are on. To protect the staff, “the technology enables tracking of both the medications and the authorized users” (Shoenfeld). This makes it easier to show where and who took the medication. Knowing the code of the person who took medication makes it easy to track that person down. This makes sure that the medication is not taken, or if something happens to a patient, the staff member who did it is easier to find. In hospitals, “the software in most medication dispensing systems greatly reduces the risk of human error” (Shoenfeld). The more that error is erased, the better the patient care is. The quality of care that a patient receives is important.
The new way is also more efficient for patients and doctors to get information. Hospitals like “collecting and analyzing data that helps them understand where and how often things go wrong, sometimes dangerously but more often wastefully” (Haupt). This then helps them know where things can go wrong and how to fix them before they happen. Knowing where things can go wrong helps plan for the future. Preventing mistakes is a big part of making sure that patient care is great. Electronic records “pull together all of a patient’s information, from the results of the last routine checkup with her primary care doctor to CT scans from her emergency hospital admission because of a fall she took while vacationing 500 miles from home, in one place that is secure but remotely accessible not only to physicians but to the patient herself” (Haupt). Having all the patient’s information in one place is important so that the patient gets the best care that is possible. Having all that information in one place saves time, and the doctor can give the patient better care because all the information is available. Hospitals have systems that “provide automated checks and warnings, if necessary, about allergies, potential drug interactions, or dosing errors” (Shoenfeld). Having the ability to check that information is very important, so the patient does not die because of medication. The system makes it easier and faster to check that information.
The technology that is used in hospitals has improved as time has gone on. This shows that patient care is very important to doctors. The more technology there is in hospitals, the better patient care will be, and fewer mistakes will be made. Electronic records and systems that help doctors improve the level of care that patients get. The technology that is used makes decisions easier and faster to save patients’ lives. The technology that is used in hospitals is increasing, which is improving care. In the future, more technology will be introduced to hospitals.
Cynar, Mike. “Benefits of Electronic Medical Records vs Paper | Pros & Cons.” Medicalbillingservicereview.com, 24 Jan. 2022, medicalbillingservicereview.com/benefits-of-electronic-medical-records-vs-paper/.
Haupt, Angela. “The Era of Electronic Medical Records.” U.S.News, 18 July 2011, health.usnews.com/health-news/most-connected-hospitals/articles/2011/07/18/most-connected-hospitals. Accessed 2 Mar. 2023.
HealthIT. “Health IT Playbook.” Healthit.gov, 2019, www.healthit.gov/playbook/electronic-health-records/.
McKellar, Shelley. “Medicine and Technology.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology, edited by Hugh Richard Slotten, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1st edition, 2014. Credo Reference, https://wilkes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/ouposmat/medicine_and_technology/0?institutionId=4180. Accessed 16 Mar. 2023.
Pierce, Ruby. “History of Computers in Healthcare Timeline.” Timetoast, www.timetoast.com/timelines/history-of-computers-in-healthcare-b52c0ebd-9c3c-4231-8eae-c4a8128e6429.
Shoenfeld, Brian. “Talon – Medication Dispensing Systems Are Changing Delivery of Care.” Talon | Automated Dispensing Cabinet Hardware, 18 Feb. 2019, www.taloncontrols.com/blog/medication-dispensing-systems-what-they-are-and-how-theyre-changing-how-hospitals-deliver-care/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2023.
Sturdy, Steve. “Hospitals.” Reader’s Guide to the History of Science, edited by Arne Hessenbruch, Routledge, 1st edition, 2000. Credo Reference, https://wilkes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/routhistscience/hospitals/0?institutionId=4180. Accessed 16 Mar. 2023.