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What is the Future of Technology in the NHS?

The potential uses of technology in healthcare are limitless. It could be used to store and collect data, make appointments, create better medical devices, and so on. However, with it, come ethical issues around the safety and privacy of this technology.

Advantages

On a personal scale – these changes make the health service slightly more convenient for us. However, the potential use for the whole population makes it much more worthwhile.

Collected data can be used to draw conclusions about diseases and their risk factors. The efficiency of making appointments online would save clinics time and money. Storing information on the cloud would reduce the load on the NHS to spend money on machinery to hold it. Instead of having millions of samples being sent off to labs, they could be examined before the patient’s eyes.

Beyond data, the NHS is already using surgical robots. They are smaller and more accurate, making surgeries less invasive, leading to a smaller chance of infection. It also means that surgeons require fewer hours of practice for a possibly higher chance of success.

Disadvantages

Along with the benefits that technology brings, comes cyber-security issues with the safekeeping of sensitive information. It also requires millions of pounds for it to be applied and maintained correctly.

The NHS is currently using cloud storage to store patient data. The most obvious concern is possible hacking into the cloud, releasing sensitive information about people. To combat this, data is only stored in countries and areas with similar privacy laws, which attempts to overcome any possible loopholes in the difference between laws that would cause the leakage of data.

That being said, Digital NHS states, “We cannot assume there can never be any breach”, meaning that cloud storage has vulnerabilities, similar to all other technology-based storage. However, reports have shown that cloud storage has been cost-effective.

But there is a lesser-known flaw; hacking into electronic implants. Thinking about technology, we like to think that it is so far into the future that we won’t be affected. But the possibility is closer than you’d think.

Earlier this year in the USA, there was a mass recall of cardiac devices as it was found that the systems were vulnerable to cyber-security exploits, as they could possibly be used to manipulate how the device works.

It’s obvious that technology in medicine is a step forward that needs to be taken globally to keep up with increasing healthcare demands. And so it continues to advance. However, advances on how to exploit it are being made at the same time, and so should be treated with caution. The increased mobility of data can cause huge ethical issues as well as being a medical benefit.

 

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