Technology is a means, not an end

technology

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ana Paula Weber and Mr. Lucas Gheller Machado, medical students in their third year of studies at Unicesumar, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Over time, humanity has gone through several stages of development, so that each society has a share in the contribution for social environment’s evolution. In the 18th century, for example, the Industrial Revolution took place, a milestone in development that forever changed humanity’s way of life and consequently health conditions in general. Technology advanced more quickly than humans were able to withstand without any damage. This triggered a series of diseases that culminated in the involvement of a wide spectrum of individuals. Thus, it was observed that technology and health should not to progress isolated, but together, in order to obtain mutual benefit to society. Therefore, there is an increasing demand for the development of mobile technologies to save lives nowadays, once there is an increase in population demand and in the cost of acquisition, and in contrast a reduced amount of resources available to serve the entire world in a short time. 1,2

Even before emphasizing the importance of technology to save lives, it is necessary to reassess that there are fundamental precepts for the establishment of that in health. Edward Teller, for example, even though having  the technology to discover the hydrogen bomb, said that ‘‘today’s science is tomorrow’s technology’’, revealing the far too much importance of what preceded technology. Similarly, it is possible to infer that humanity was responsible for discovering technology and not the other way around, and therefore following Socrates deductive syllogism, has the capacity to develop simple technological measures appropriate to current and future health systems. 1,2

In addition, technological innovations in healthcare typically emerge in line with emerging demands. In this sense, examples such as artificial intelligence algorithms for image analysis and electronic medical records were crucial innovations in advancing health, and currently are simple and quick to be performed, helping immensely in health systems. 3 Furthermore there are the wearables and smart watches, devices created to monitor the health of individuals, which can detect possible adversities conditions and monitor comorbidities that offer health risks, facilitating continuous monitoring and increasing patient’s autonomy. However, nanotechnology, biotechnology, 3D printing, bioabsorbable stents, among others, are highly effective and necessary technological solutions for the improvement of the technique in health as a whole. 4 The big problem, however, is making these alternatives simple, low cost and accessible to the point of standardizing in the national territory and perhaps on a global scale.

That said, it is concluded that mobile technology is a potential ally to health systems in order to save lives. However, there is a notable problem in health systems: the difficulties in making simple what was originally simple, although shielded from bureaucracy. By eliminating the complexity of the determinants, the simplicity of technology becomes explicit. Besides that it appears that there is a lack of incentive, support and mass implementation processes, that is, the validation is simple and many times, it has already been done, leaving to optimize the execution and reach to the healthcare systems. 5

References

  1. Steinhubl SR, Muse ED, Topol EJ. The emerging field of mobile health. Sci Transl Med. 2015;7(283):283rv3. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa3487.
  2. Bhavnani SP, Narula J, Sengupta PP. Mobile technology and the digitization of healthcare. Eur Heart J. 2016;37(18):1428-1438. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv770.
  3. Zhu W, Shen Y, Zhen H, Yang X, Hu K. Study of the Application of Mobile Medical Technology in Construction of Grading Diagnosis and Treatment System. Zhongguo Yi Liao Qi Xie Za Zhi. 2018;42(2):95-98. doi:10.3969/j.issn.1671-7104.2018.02.005.
  4. Cox SM, Lane A, Volchenboum SL. Use of Wearable, Mobile, and Sensor Technology in Cancer Clinical Trials. JCO Clin Cancer Inform. 2018;2:1-11. doi:10.1200/CCI.17.00147.
  5. Mather C, Jensen S, Cummings E. Clinical Simulation: A Protocol for Evaluation of Mobile Technology. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2017;241:179-184.

About the authors

Ana Paula Weber is 20 years old and is studying the 3rd year of Medicine in Brazil, at Unicesumar (Maringá-PR). She is currently vice president of the Academic League of Intensive Care Medicine of Maringá (LAMIM), treasurer of the Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center (CAMN), member of the Academic League of Clinical Medicine of Maringá (LACMMA) and member of the Academic League of Plastic Surgery of Unicesumar (LACPU). In addition, she has part of Humanizart, a project of clowns aimed at social actions of empathy and joy to patients. She seeks to build her trajectory with academic activities and extracurricular activities.

Lucas Gheller Machado is 19 years old and he courses the third year of medicine. Currently, he is local coordinator of IFMSA Brasil UniCesumar, president of the Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center (CAMN), president of the Academic League of Intensive Medicine in Maringá (LAMIM) and member of the Academic League of Medical Genetics (LAGeM). In addition, he constantly participates in Humanizart social actions, aimed at serving vulnerable populations and collaborating with humanization in the streets and hospitals. His objective is to combine graduation with scientific and artistic development, constituting a formation of solid and essential pillars.

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