Right from efficient data storage and easy access and sharing of information, to conducting medical tests and simulating complex surgical procedures, computers have an important role to play in the medical field. It can be put under four main categories that include:
– Data Storage
– Surgical Procedures
– Diagnostic Tests
– Knowledge Sharing
As in any other field, the importance of computer technology in medicine cannot be ignored.
▸ Computers are an excellent means for storage of patient-related data. Hospitals employ computer systems to maintain patient records.
▸ It is often necessary to maintain detailed records of the medical history of patients. Doctors often require information about a patient’s family history, physical ailments in the family (if any), already diagnosed diseases and prescribed medicines. This information can be stored in a computer database.
▸ Computers can keep track of prescriptions and billing information. They can be used to store information about the medicines prescribed to a patient as well as those, which cannot be prescribed to him/her (ones which the patient is allergic to).
▸ Computers enable an efficient storage of huge amounts of medical data. Medicine comprises a vast information base. Computer storage can serve as the best means of housing this information.
▸ Medical journals, research and diagnosis papers, important medical documents and reference books can best be stored in an electronic format.
▸ Computer software is used for diagnosis of diseases. It can be used for the examination of internal organs of the body. Advanced computer-based systems are used to examine organs of the body.
▸ Some of the complex surgeries can be performed with the help of computers. Computer-assisted Surgery (CAS) is a fast-advancing field in medicine, which combines medical expertise with computer intelligence to give faster and more accurate results in surgical procedures. In CAS, a model of the patient is created, then analyzed prior to surgery. The surgical procedure is simulated on the virtual image of the patient.
▸ The surgery can then be performed by a surgical robot, as programmed by a medical professional or the robot may only assist doctors while they do the actual surgery.
▸ In both cases, computer intelligence is at work, thus underlining the uses of computers in medicine.
▸ The different types of monitoring equipment in hospitals are often based on computer programming.
▸ Medical imaging deals with techniques to create images of the human body for medical purposes. Many of the modern methods of scanning and imaging are largely based on computer technology. We have been able to implement many of the advanced medical imaging techniques, thanks to developments in computer science.
▸ Magnetic resonance imaging employs computer software. Computed tomography makes use of digital geometry processing techniques to obtain 3-D images. Sophisticated computers and infrared cameras are used for obtaining high-resolution images. Computers are widely used for the generation of 3-D images.
▸ Many of the modern-day medical equipment have small, programmed computers. Many of the medical appliances of today work on pre-programmed instructions. The circuitry and logic in most of the medical equipment is basically a computer.
▸ The functioning of hospital-bed beeping systems, emergency alarm systems, X-ray machines and several such medical appliances is based on computer logic.
▸Computer technology eases the communication between medical practitioners and patients. Sharing of knowledge pertaining to research and updates in the medical field, can happen with greater efficiency, owing to computer technology.
▸ Computer networking enables quicker communication. Computers and the Internet have proven to be a boon in all spheres of life. In the field of medicine, computers allow faster communication between a patient and a doctor.
▸ Doctors can collaborate better over the Internet. Today, it is possible to obtain experts’ opinions within seconds by means of the Internet. Medical professionals sitting on opposite sides of the globe can communicate within minutes with the help of the Internet. It is due to computer networking technology that network communication has become easy.
▸ Medical practitioners can discuss medical issues in medical forums, they can blog, write articles, and contribute to medical journals available online.
▸ Updates in the medical field, advancements in medicine, information about new methods of treatment, etc. can reach the common man within minutes, thanks to the Internet and easy access to computers.
▸ Doctors can exchange images and messages in seconds and derive conclusions speedily. They can seek advice and share knowledge in a convenient manner over the Internet.