History in 90 Mins

This last section was a section that not only analyzed upon the topic of medical sociology, but also reflected on the history of the medical field and how it has changed throughout the years. I really enjoyed that. While I am not a huge fan of history, seeing the development of hospitals and how people took matters into their own hands to change policies, such as the conditions of hospitals was pretty incredible.

Continue reading “History in 90 Mins”

New Ways to View Death and Aging?

Through the last view lectures, we learned many aspects of end of life care, such as being in the intensive care unit, in nursing homes, and in hospice care. The main overall view we can get from these aspects is we need to change our view of death, and make sure the patient gets what they want or deserve. Maybe they would not prefer treatment and rather die in the hands of their loved ones or near them, therefore sending them not to ICUs but rather to hospice facilities or just the comfort of home. Maybe the old would rather be living their own lives, like those in the neighborhood for the elderly, instead of being monitored for their own health. This would lead us to believe that we need a change in how we view death and aging.

Whereas death may be viewed as a terrible thing and prevented, we should treat is as an inevitable situation and have the patient be the one in control when it is their own death. Death should not be a taboo subject, but again it should be embraced when the time has come. In this state, the most optimal thing to do would be allowing the patient the most comfort they can afford. Aging should be viewed in a similar fashion. People who are aging should not be viewed as feeble or fragile and have to be looked for (unless they have to due to a condition such as Alzheimer’s) but rather looked as capable individuals who have their own wants or needs. Rather then confine them because they are close to death, allow them to do whatever they want because they almost have no more life to live. There is a shift toward this view, but a lot more thought would be needed to fully push the view toward the main picture and have it embraced by everyone. At this point, will we be able to actually conquer death: when we accept it and gain a sense of comfort from it.

Everyone’s Health Records… All In One Place?!

http://www.fastcompany.com/3054027/elasticity/ge-wants-to-move-all-your-health-data-to-the-cloud

In this day and age, everything is computerized and shared virtually, whether it be pictures, videos or notes. However, medical records are usually lost between hospitals, and patients find that they’re required to get the same CT scan that they did months ago at another hospital, doubling their exposure to radioactivity as well as accumulating ridiculous amounts of costs. Luckily enough, GE Healthcare has introduced a service that could fix this problem altogether – a service they call GE Health Cloud that links up “medical devices around the world, processes the data, and stores patient records securely online so they can be viewed from anywhere” (Captain, par.4). Indeed it’s true that something of this magnitude has the possibility of violating patients’ confidentiality, but the company promises that Health Cloud meets all U.S. HIPPA privacy requirements for healthcare records. GE Healthcare is planning to launch their new service in late spring 2016, revolving around devices like “CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRI scanners, and starting off with 500,000 of GE’s machines” (Captain, par.5). De Witte, the president and CEO of GE Healthcare, emphasizes that this service could save time and money, as well as even save lives. He gives the example of a patient with an ischemic stroke, which requires immediate diagnosis and treatment within 3-4 hours. A CT scan would require at least 4-5 hours, and the duration would put the patient’s life at risk. But with this service, any of the patient’s radiological records can be examined within minutes using the Health Cloud. The problem will eventually come with the hospital’s decisions to participate in the service, which can obviously be costly to the hospitals. It’ll be a difficult problem to come across when one hospital decides to participate in the service, and another hospital decides to ignore it.

I think this is one of the most promising articles I’ve come across in a long time. Medical technology is always being reinvented and expanded, so it’s shocking that a service like this hasn’t already been created. The biggest obvious downside to this service will indeed be the costs that hospitals will have to manage, but this is a situation where the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. Aside from saving the patient a great deal of time, effort, and money, this could ultimately save a patient’s life (as explained in the paragraph above) as well as help the patient’s health in ensuring they aren’t overly exposed to unnecessary and redundant radioactivity that comes from many of these scanners. I am, however, skeptical of how every hospital will react to this service. I do believe many will reject this service solely based on costs, but if the costs are evenly distributed between the hospital and patients, I feel that the costs would end up being reasonable for both parties, still saving patients money from the ridiculous costs that come with all these expensive tests. I look forward to following up on the service’s success

The Hospital-Patient Experience

The human touch during a hospital-patient experience is something that is almost an anomaly now. This personal touch is something that is sacrificed so that doctors can meet with more patients during the short amount of time they have. In places like Thailand and other technologically advanced hospitals, the use of robots in place of human touch is not uncommon anymore. In some cases, the surgeon actually controls a robots movements, while the machine actually performs the surgery. Robots are also used in place of custodial care for inpatients. Robots do make things in hospitals more efficient, decrease infection and contamination, and also keep movement consistent and lacking human error; however, are these advantages worth getting rid of the human touch? Will we, as possible future patients, be comfortable with robots treating us in hospitals?

The Rise of the Modern Hospital

In The Rise of the Modern Hospital, Charles Rosenberg spoke about how hospitals started  “apart of an institutional world that minimized cash transactions” to the now “monolithic and impersonal medical factory” it is today. He stated that by the 20’s, surgery had played a key role in the growth and status of hospitals, which consequently, for the consumers, brought a dramatic increase in price. However, being they were hospitals, they avoided scrutiny from the public and disciplines from a normal market system. My question is what would hospitals be like today if they weren’t held to this so called untouchable status when they were first growing in America? If the upbringing of hospitals were different could this have changed the problem we face today regarding the difference between the doctor and patient’s role? Would care be more patient centered if making money in hospitals never became the goal?

Modern Hospitals: Lack of Competition

Charles Rosenberg’s piece “The Rise of the Modern Hospital” illustrates how hospitals, once seen to be unimportant and maybe even unnecessary back in the 1800s, have since evolved into centers of knowledge and influence. Rosenberg seems to mainly attribute this evolution of hospitals into their own sphere of influence within the public eye to the rapid development of scientific theories and technology. Because certain technology which could further one’s healthcare such as x-rays could only be found in hospitals, people were forced to acknowledge hospitals’ importance and it was even possible then for hospitals to compete with each other by trying to draw in more patients with more technologically advanced machinery and more effective procedures (and treatments). What were other factors leading to the rapid expansion of hospitals? In addition, as I mentioned possible competition between hospitals to draw in patients by providing better technology and better care, why then, does it seem that this competition no longer exists? Though some research hospitals do make it a priority to further advancements in healthcare, many seem to operate solely to profit off of those who cannot receive medical treatment in any way. This seems especially apparent now knowing of the existence of charge masters and how there is a lack of transparency with how the prices for procedures in different hospitals are set.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

In The Rise of the Modern Hospital, Charles Rosenberg discusses the “contentious present and problematic future” of the hospital and explores the factors that led to the evolution of this institution from the subpar ragtag collection of inpatient beds in 1800 to the profit-maximizing monolith of the 21st century. This reading made me reflect on the things we’ve learned throughout the course of this semester. Before this class, I knew that our health care system was flawed but I had no idea of the extent of these imperfections.

Continue reading “What Goes Up, Must Come Down”