New medical technology affects health in many ways. The benefits of these new technologies are the most well-known but there is a cost effect that underlines each successful break through. New technologies in the medical field are always welcome because they help to transform lives and safe lives. This is because they have made it possible to treat diseases and conditions that were considered terminal. For example, Implantable Cardioveter Defibrillator (ICD) system has facilitated the treatment of cardiac arrest. The device has increased the chances of cardiac arrest survival from five percent without it to 98 percent if used.
Furthermore, technology has made it possible to manage terminal diseases such as diabetes. Using the available technologies, a patient can accurately monitor the glucose levels in the body effectively and thus, avoid complications of diabetes such as peripheral nerve damage or blindness. New medical technologies have also improved efficiencies in medical institutions by reducing the time needed to treat a single patient and hence improve their quality of life. Some diseases that used to take a few days to treat can now be treated in a single day.
How new technologies affect the cost of medical treatment depend on several factors. The greatest impact of new technology is the cost of treating a single patient. The cost of treating a single patient will depend on whether the technology is supplementing an already existing treatment or it is an alternative or a partial substitute. How these changes affect the cost of treatment is what determines whether the technology increases or reduces the initial cost of treatment. It is also important to check whether the costs of the technology have any direct impact on the cost of other hospital services.
Another factor that determines the cost of any new medical technology is the level of use. The number of times a technology is used has a great impact on the cost of treatment. The total cost of a technology that is widely used will tend to be low due to the economies of scale unlike the cost of a technology used to treat a rare condition or disease. Determining how new technology affects health cost may be complicated. This is because it is highly likely that a single technology can cut the cost of treatment in one area and increase the cost in another.
For example, in the treatment of anesthesia, new medical applications and technologies have made it possible to treat the condition without undergoing a surgery procedure. This has reduced the cost needed for treatment as compared to the cost of surgery. However, these new technologies have also made it possible to treat patients previously thought too weak to undergo surgery, which increases the total cost of spending. This proves it is very difficult to measure the total cost of new technology especially when the changes interrelate with other treatments.
To conclude, the size of health care sector and diversity of the technologies makes it difficult to directly measure the cost of new technologies.
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