The Benefits of Technology in Healthcare

We’re living in an age characterized by rapid advances in technology. Although it might not be what the sci-fi authors of the past imagined (no aliens yet), some of the inventions are more than impressive and have incredible implications for medicine and healthcare. The risks and benefits of technology in healthcare can never be denied.

The 3D printer’s ability to make prosthetic body parts in a matter of days at incredible costs and its potential to create organs and other tissues make it easy to see that technology has profound implications for human health.

Although 3D printing and other advances might be the solution to many medical dilemmas and issues today, technology poses many questions, both moral and practical, as it does answers.

The Risks and Benefits of Technology in Healthcare

With Tech News reporting a mixed message of a broken healthcare system combined with the promotion of costly medical devices, it’s easy to wonder whether more technology is the solution or will just add more cracks and costs to the healthcare system. Moreover, with the help of big companies like Epic, Cerner, and MEDITECH, doctors and patients can access records and data online, leaving safety, privacy, convenience, and accessibility in a precarious balance.

The Risks and Benefits of Technology in Healthcare

So, let’s look at some of the rapidly developing risks and benefits of technology in healthcare and what people stand to gain or lose.

Electronic Medical Records

According to the CDC, 78.4 percent of office-based physicians used an electronic medical record or health record system in 2013. As we move forward, more records will be accessible online.


  • Storing information electronically makes it more vulnerable to security violations and hackers.
  • Healthcare practitioners may over-rely on electronic records and forget how to work without them.
  • Errors may result from entering incorrect numbers or typos.
  • Some systems are challenging to use or navigate.
  • The system could go down or experience technical issues.
  • Although some costs may be saved on testing, implementing, and maintaining the system, training people to use it and uploading or incorporating old paper files may be expensive.


  • There’s real-time, immediate access.
  • They’re easy to read (no need to decipher handwriting).
  • Patients and doctors can easily access them from home or on their mobile devices
  • Patient information and doctor’s notes can easily be transferred from one doctor to another. For example, if you need to see a specialist or switch doctors, all your information and the doctor’s notes are readily available.
  • This may reduce costs since all your tests and results are available to all your doctors; there’s no need to do them again.
  • Information can be backed up, but physical papers can be easily lost, damaged, or destroyed.

Digital Diagnosis and Telehealth

Everyone has probably looked up their symptoms online to try to get a self-diagnosis before going to the doctor. Still, digital diagnosis and telehealth go beyond that, bringing better symptom checkers and real doctors to the digital world, ready for consultation via email, messaging, phone, or video.


  • Doctors don’t always see the patients, so patients and doctors alike may miss visual cues, misinterpret messages, or miss important physical features or cues that could aid in diagnosis.
  • Communicating online in chats and emails is not secure.
  • A doctor licensed in one state might not meet licensing requirements for another.
  • Digital diagnosis may mislead people into thinking they have more severe issues.


  • It makes doctors accessible to rural areas or internationally.
  • No travel time or costs.
  • Patients can maintain contact with their doctors while traveling or after moving.
  • Consult with real doctors online about questions and symptoms without going into the office at no or low costs.
  • Educates and empowers patients.
  • They can give very accurate diagnoses (the free online symptom checker Isabel has been shown to diagnose most of the time correctly and was even correct 96 percent of the time in complex issues, according to the Wall Street Journal).

Medical Robots

Although medical robots can be used in many areas of healthcare, the main controversy surrounds their role in surgery.


  • Overreliance on robots
  • A surgeon can not physically feel what he or she is doing
  • May require an unnatural position during surgery
  • Training varies by hospital
  • Technical problems
  • Electric power can cause burns
  • More expensive
  • More training
  • It may take longer to operate


  • Less invasive
  • Less blood loss
  • Smaller incisions
  • Less scarring
  • Faster recovery
  • Allows the surgeon a better view

Ultimately, whether or not healthcare technology can be considered part of living a healthy lifestyle depends on how and when doctors and patients use it. Although some of the risks listed above sound pretty compelling, don’t forget that research is constantly improving the technology people already have. Doctors can now create personalized 3D heart models for patients who need heart surgery and practice beforehand, which minimizes the risks during surgery while putting sensors in the brains of paralyzed people and can give them the ability to move an external object, like a mechanical arm.

Healthcare always carries risks–consider ancient care methods or how people managed before drug testing. Although integrating technology into our lives can seem frightening, the benefits are undeniable.

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