Chapter 12: Health

ITGS - Mrs. Larson

We will discover the following

  1. How can IT be used in patient diagnosis?
  2. How is IT used in surgery?
  3. What ways can we use IT in patient treatments
  4. What are the consequences of technology addiction?
  5. What is validity of online medical advice?
  6. How can we prevent overuse injuries?

diagnostic and therapeutic tools

Telemedicine and Telehealth

Telemedicine sometimes called telehealth, allow medical consultations to take place when the doctor and patient are in separate physical locations.

Store-and-forward telemedecine: Used when real-time communication is not essential. ie test results

Real time: Technologies like video conferencing when face-to-face communication is necesary. ie doctor-patient consultations

Telesurgery: In the future operating on a remote patient may be possible. ie the Da Vinci surgical system & 2001 Lindbergh Operation


  • Useful for patients in remote areas. ie a ship in the middle of the ocean, soldiers on a battlefield or astronauts in space
  • Allows patients access to expertise not available from the local medical community
  • Patients can receive medical advice from home


  • Security - Sending data over a network & data stored on a remote system
  • Reliability - Network communication must be smooth and uninterrupted
  • Cost - Expensive equipment, connections and satellite links
  • Legality - Doctors operating in one location may not be legally licensed to work in other states or countries

Remote Patient Monitoring

A system that allows patients to return home but still be closely monitored by medical staff.

  • Patients can remotely take samples such as blood sugar readings.
  • Wearable sensors (smart clothes) can be used to continuously monitor patients with more serious conditions.
  • Elderly patients who live alone can benefit from remote monitoring.

Electronic medical records (emr) & Electronic health records (ehr)

Stored patient data on a computerized database, which can be accessed by the medical staff treating patients. EMR systems make a full medical history immediately accessible to doctors, even if, a patient is unable to provide medical details. EMR systems allow 27/7 access to records on laptops or hand held devices without geographical restrictions.

3 ways of storing electronic health records

  1. centralized database - housed and maintained by a hospital or healthcare provider
  2. personal health records (phr)- medical data is provided and manged by the patient either in the cloud or a personal computer
  3. smart cards - portable health records stored on a smart card or similar storage device and presented by the patient at the time of treatment


  • Consume minimal space over paper records
  • Can be accessed by multiple people simultaneously
  • Can be transferred and retrieved instantly from almost any location
  • When properly backed up, they are harder to lose which reduces duplication

Privacy Concerns


Electronic prescription systems are linked to EMR systems and automatically send prescriptions to pharmacies. This cuts down on paper work, wait time and pharmacist error and fraud.

More advanced e-prescriptions systems link to medical expert systems. These suggest alternative cheaper drugs or alert pharmacist to complications or interactions between drugs a patient is taking.

Medical expert systems & Clinical decision support systems

Expert systems have been used to support medical decision making since the early 1970s. A knowledge engineer takes medical data and creates a knowledge base and rules. Data integrity and proper calculations are essential since these systems are dealing with people's lives.

See: Researchers say AI prescribes better treatment than doctors

virtual reality therapy

Systems that work by recreating virtual copies of the places or events that cause patients distress.

prosthetic devices

Robotic limbs which offer the wearer much more control and mobility than traditional plastic prosthetics.

robotic surgery tools

Machines that require an operator but allow treatment to be targeted much more accurately than with traditional methods, increasing its effectiveness, reducing damage to healthy tissue.

patient simulators & training tools

Patient simulators are computerized mannequins used to train medical staff. Unlike traditional first aid mannequins, patient simulators use computer technology to provide outputs (such as 'heart beats') and realistic responses to treatment. Patient simulators are available in several versions, including male, female, child, and baby.

medical advice

Mobile phones for health education

Lack of access to TV or Internet can limit attempts to educate people on proper healthcare. However, even in poor, remote locations, cell phone access is very common. Many health projects have started taking advantage of mobile devices to raise awareness of health issues.

These systems have been credited with doubling young smokers' quit rates (New Scientist), and have been used to help tackle HIV in South Africa (BBC), encourage condom use in New York (NYTimes), and drive health IT innovation in several developing countries.

Online Medical Advice

Using the web to distribute healthcare messages and promote awareness.

Diagnosis sites - Range from simple information on common illnesses to interactive sites where users input symptoms and the site uses an expert system to help diagnose.

Medical advice sites - Provide assistance and preventative advice to patients.

Support group sites - Useful when hospitals, doctors, or clinics do not offer their own support groups.


Online advice is naturally accompanied by concerns regarding the authenticity of the creators and the reliability of the information itself:

Medical research

Disease Mapping

See the Health Map video. Its similar to Google Maps but shows the latest health news and alerts from around the world. Data can be gathered quickly and awareness about outbreaks can be shared. However data integrity is a concern.

The Human Genome Project

The goal is produce an online database of genes which is accessible to anybody with and internet connection.

psychological consideration

Nomophobia? Are you?

Internet and game addiction Computer gaming addiction raises many potential negative health, psychological, and economic impacts. The problem has become so bad in some countries that extreme measures have been taken to try to combat the issue:

Psychological considerations The Child, the Tablet and the Developing Mind (NY Times) examines the psychological impacts on children of constant exposure to technology.

physical considerations

Health problems that arise from excessive or incorrect use of IT equipment. RSI (repetitive strain injury) causes strong pain or weakness in muscles and tendons and can occur in the hands, arms, shoulders, and back.

How Stuff Works "Why is sitting in a chair for long periods bad for your back?"

PC Pro "A standing workstation for your home or office"