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The Impact of Information and Communication Technology on Medicine and Education.

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The impact of Information and Communication Technology on Medicine and Education

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) fixates on the internet, cell phones, radios and other mediums that allow communication to occur. ICT and Information Technology (IT) are analogous but IT focuses on the software and hardware of the devices used to communicate. Over the past few years ICT development has increased rapidly, from the use of landline phones dominantly, face to face conversations and letters being written on paper. This is now out dated with mobile phones on the rise, video calling conferences, and emails being sent.  ICT has also been used in Education and Medicine to modernize their traditional praxes. ICT is used in Medicine with patient records, medical equipment, expert systems, web-based diagnosis and research. In Education it has been used to create a more engaging setting and to boost technology savvy students.

As it relates to modernizing patient records, an electronic health record programme was created to replace files on paper. Electronic Health Records (EHR) are digital versions of a patient’s health records including their medical history, diagnosis, treatment plans, radiology images etc. EHR has a few notable components that ensure the value of health care is substantially improved and the cost of the health care is reduced. Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tools, Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems, and Health Information Exchange (HIE) are a few components that do so.

CDS systems aid the medical provider in determining the most accurate care for the patient. CDS can notify the provider about the latest drugs, cross reference a patient’s allergy to a medication or notify them about possible issues that can affect the patient, the system signals this information via the computer being used. With this technology on the rise health care can be conveyed more assiduously and a decrease in some medical errors can be observed.

CPOE systems allows the medical provider to refer patients to get laboratory tests, physical therapy or a medical procedure via the computer. This eradicates errors such as poor calligraphy or the patient simply losing the referral paper. CPOE can also allow the provider to notify the pharmacist of a prescription for the patient. This would decrease the errors of incorrect prescriptions which has been a common error. Research done by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School have shown that CPOE systems has reduced medication errors by 55% and 83% when combined with a CDS system.

HIE system allows the patient’s files to be shared with medical providers electronically. This is a very useful tool so that if the patient goes to the hospital their primary physician could access the information. This replaced faxing or mailing patient’s notes to facilities.

One issue associated with having electronic health records is the risk of patient’s privacy being violated. Some hackers or medical providers such as nurses, doctors or radiologist etc. can become inquisitive and snoop into a patient’s file for the wrong reasons. However current legislation has enforced regulations specifically relating to the electronic exchange of health information that strengthen existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy and security policies. This new legislation makes it challenging for the data to be accessed erroneously. Also, many medical facilities have implemented stern punishments for employees who access these files erroneously. It is also mandatory for an EHR system to have a history of the users who viewed a patient’s file so that executives can observe their staff’s activity. Although this issue can reoccur, the likelihood of it doing so has been reduced due to the strict stipulations. EHR has improved healthcare tremendously and will continue to do so as it flourishes.

ICT is generally seen more often in Barbadian higher education than in the lower levels as they are now trying to modernize the classroom. One common platform used is E-learning, it allows educators to share course content & online resources, communicate and create different activities for students to participate in. Students and teachers can communicate through online forums created, this allows students to ask questions and have any misconceptions clarified by either the teacher or other peers. Practice quizzes can also motivate students to become self-directed learners. These activities allow the teachers to monitor the process of students while they’re engaging.

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