Changes Within Health and Human Services System Sample
Healthcare and human services systems are ever-changing owing to the dynamic nature of humans and the desire to live sustainable livelihoods. In the healthcare sector, it is essential to consider that nursing practice before the 19th century primarily focused on families, especially royal and wealthy families. However, natural and anthropogenic disasters such as disease outbreaks and wars increased the need to institutionalize healthcare services to serve the public. Florence Nightingale’s efforts to provide nursing services to victims of war became the basic principles of modern nursing.
In the 20th century, countries like the United States embarked on various healthcare policy changes to incorporate access, affordability, and patient-centeredness principles in mainstream healthcare services delivery. Although healthcare policies significantly transformed health and human services systems, the entry of technology in healthcare represents one of the landmark changes that impacted the delivery of care and patient outcomes.
Technology and Health Systems
Technological advances in the healthcare sector cut across various operations, including record-keeping, diagnostics, information and knowledge sharing, the general care delivery mechanisms. According to Litwin (2020), factors that motivate technological changes in healthcare include responding to demographic needs, coordinating healthcare delivery, chronic disease prevention and management, increasing access to healthcare care, and reducing the cost of care. It is essential to argue that caregivers struggled to deliver quality care in the absence of advanced technologies. For instance, wound management, record-keeping, disease diagnosis, and progress evaluation were ineffective before incorporating technology in the mainstream healthcare systems.
Similarly, Mitchell & Kan (2019) agree that the objective of realizing universal health coverage is consistent with the availability of appropriate care delivery infrastructure. In this sense, the determination to expand the traditional doctor-centered, facility-based systems to achieve “health for all” is futile considering discrepancies in social determinants of health across communities. According to Mitchell & Kan (2019), embracing digital technology in healthcare delivery is the most profound strategy for achieving access to high-quality to everyone no matter where they live.
The emergence of electronic health records (EHRs) in the second half of the 20th century was consistent with the central role of computer technology. According to Rampton et al. (2021), EHRs set the pace for the current technologies since they transformed how physicians interacted with patients to obtain and share information. With the determination to change top-down, bureaucratic structures between physicians and patients becoming a reality, EHRs advanced to new technologies such as patient portals, artificial intelligence, digital communications, and telepresence. According to Litwin (2020), digital technologies, including communication and telepresence mechanisms, have a broad range of applications in-home care settings and virtual healthcare provision.
Importance of Technological Advances in the Current Healthcare System
With computer technologies and the role of the Internet combining to facilitate new advances, it is valid to contend that the objective of universal care is achievable. According to Litwin (2020), digital technologies promote telehealth, telemedicine, and telehospitals that ease access to quality care services. Other technologies such as semi-autonomous robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning allow caregivers to diversify approaches to address clinical challenges, including record-keeping issues, early diagnostics, and process efficiency. Finally, artificial intelligence applications such as patient portals allow people to access vital information regarding care trajectories. Eventually, these advances lead to quality patient-centered care by dismantling top-down physician-patient relationships.
In conclusion, the healthcare sector is ever-dynamic, considering changes in priorities and situations. Although various landmark policies sought to promote accessibility, affordability, and reliability of care, challenges are persistent due to a lack of appropriate care delivery mechanisms. Consequently, technology eliminated many of these challenges by transforming healthcare systems. Today, effective record-keeping frameworks, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and digital communication technologies promote quality of care by facilitating efficiency, effectiveness, and timely delivery.
- Litwin, A. (2020). Technological change in health care delivery: its drivers and consequences for work and workers, (pp. 1-91). UC Berkeley Labor Center. Retrieved 14 November 2021, from https://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Technological-Change-in-Health-Care-Delivery.pdf.
- Mitchell, M., & Kan, L. (2019). Digital technology and the future of health systems. Health systems & reform, 5(2), 113-120. https://doi.org/10.1080/23288604.2019.1583040
- Rampton, V., Böhmer, M., & Winkler, A. (2021). Medical technologies past and present: how history helps to understand the digital era. Journal Of Medical Humanities, 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10912-021-09699-x