Computers in Hospitals

Hospitals have taken full advantage of what ICT can offer in the modern era. Computers can be used in Hospitals for two main purposes – ledger systems and for patient care. A basic ledger system ensures department spending is under the allocated allowance. This means that companies will not be wasting money, as the availability to spend over budget isn’t there. The software used in ledger systems are controlled by a Computer system. Also, the ledger can manage payroll. The advantages of a ledger system are that all records are easily traced.

This means that employees can purchase goods on behalf of the department, but cannot deny it at a later date. This is helpful for a company as they now when and who makes a purchase. Another advantage of using a basic ledger system in your business is that companies can now pay in bulk as all purchases are sent through the system. This means that if the department of neuroscience and the department of pharmacology both purchased a microscope, it would send to the ledger system. It would purchase the two microscopes together. They’re buying in bulk; therefore the companies will give them a cheaper price for the product.

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This is known as ‘economies of scale’. Budgets are set at the start of the working year. This means that all departments are clearly informed of their budget for the whole year. This means that departments cannot spend over their allowance, as they’ve been informed early. Now Hospitals will be spending less time on employing workers to investigate payments being made by different departments. More money will now be available to spend on patient care. Another advantage of using a computerised ledger system is that the risk of input errors are now decreased.

The computer system calculates different budgets fairly, so the element of bias is now eliminated. The computerised system increases security as only certain people are allowed to view staff budgets by entry of password. However, patients may not be able to have their treatment, as budgets are now stricter. For example if somebody wanted an operation which wasn’t life threatening but cost a lot of money, then the operation wouldn’t be funded as the budget needs to be preserved for the whole year. This means fewer operations happen in a year, leading to a lower satisfaction rate between patients. You can’t predict an accident.

This means that money in the budget needs to be saved in case of an epidemic in the future. For example, if there was a terrorist attack in Central London and your hospital was the nearest, then you’d be inundated with patients; therefore they’d need to be treated. This couldn’t have been predicted; therefore Hospitals need to save money in case of an epidemic. The installation and set up of a ledger system can be very expensive. You’d need to purchase licensing for the software, and may need to upgrade the current computers as they’re not powerful enough to process tasks. Also, drug bills can be expensive.

This means it is difficult for departments to stay under the allowance of their budget until the end of the year. The second obvious use of Computers in Hospitals is for patient care. Computers are used in a wide array of tasks that you probably didn’t know they did! One example of this is that patient details and records are stored on a computer. The information is provided by the medical records department. This means that Doctors can locate information about patients very quickly. The time spent inside the Hospital by patients shall decrease, meaning more people can be fitted an appointment in a day.

This shall improve satisfaction between patients as they’ll have appointments quicker! Appointments are allocated to patients fairly using a computer. The operator shall key in who wants an appointment and the computer shall put them into the nearest available slot. This removes the element of bias, and can arrange appointments quickly. Decreasing human involvement, this can lead to errors happening such as input errors. Notes can now be delivered to the correct clinic. This is because you can place your note into a certain variable and the computer will check where it needs to be sent to.

For example, somebody has broken their foot and need to learn how to walk again. The doctor places the note into the variable “orthotics” and it shall suggest a list of clinics it could be sent to. This decreases input errors as the addresses have already been inputted and verified by the computer. Also, staff can quickly send messages to each other over a 128 bit-encrypted network, not email, as this is personal information about people, which they trust is safe and secure. When a patient enters the hospital they’re given a wristband. It has been given a unique number and barcode.

This decreases the risk of input errors as now they can be scanned into the hospital without the need for a computer operator to key in names. The unique number patients are given ensures that all patients are unique, compared to if the hospital used names, people may be confused who the correct person is in comparison to their name, as people sometimes have the same name. If the scanner is broken then an operator may be needed to key in barcodes. These barcodes are given ISBN numbers. This ensures that the operator doesn’t key in data wrong as all the digits must equal this number. The unique number is known as a key field, primary key.

The Haematology Department use ICT to compare patterns in blood test results and to track the blood transfused to and from patients. If a patient needs a blood transfusion then the Hospital shall create them a bracelet with the key field printed (unique number for each patient, to identify them) on by barcode and collect key information about them. This can now be scanned when patients come in and out of the Hospital. This is done by a scanner and shall reduce human involvement (decreasing the risk of input errors). As data about patients is stored in relation to their bar code, we can now track transfusions.

This is important as you may become ill. You would want to know exactly who gave it to you, and what the problem is. Barcodes provide accurate information as we can now find out information about the blood type of the donor, when they gave their blood and the problems associated with it. If we were to track transfusions using names, then it would coarsen precision, as there may be hundreds of Bill Bates’s who donated blood. Blood is characterized by ISBT 128. This is similar to the ISBN number earlier discussed. It identifies labels and processes human blood and tissue.

This is used in Hospitals on the bracelets to make patients unique from one another. One advantages of this is that we can track who donated blood. This is good as a doctor can stop giving patients blood from a particular donor as they’re becoming ill. As the blood is characterised using ISBT 128 then we know the correct blood type for a patient. This is good because now the chance of giving a patient the wrong blood type is now decreased. Less money is now wasted on correcting mistakes, this means that money can go elsewhere in the Hospital. Money is now saved from department budgets.

Also, as the blood type is properly characterised there is less chance of cross contamination, as we know exactly what blood types patients are and what would go wrong is we mixed the two. However, if somebody was to manually transcribe the blood types then there may be input errors, which may lead to false decisions being made. In the pathology lab ICT is essential for many tasks. One example of this would be to send results of the composition of blood to other wards. This would be done through a LAN (local area network) as it is a form of intranet it is protected and secure, meaning unwanted people cannot view it.

Whilst over a WAN it can be hacked and intercepted easier. As the results are sent through an intranet this means results can be received quicker, meaning action can be prompt. Which saves time and money. In the Pathology lab Computers automate tests. This is good because now is will reduce human error, such as input or transposition errors. As the tests are automated this means less experts are needed to withdraw them. Now departments can spend less money on staff and purchase more goods such as medicine. However, you cannot be over dependent on the Computer system. There may be a power cut or it may have a manual malfunction.

Therefore some expert staff is needed if Computer systems fail… In the Cytology department there is no software available for people to use IT. This is because the eye vessels are very complicated and an algorithm cannot solve the problem. Therefore, trained staff is needed to withdraw eye checks. In the 21st century Hospitals can take advantage of sending information over networks to increase speed of communication. One use of using WAN in a Hospital is to send X rays and scans to other clinics in seconds, whilst using manual postal service this may take up to a week. This is needed if a patient changes Hospitals.

This ensures the best and helpful advice to help the patient. Another use of having a WAN inside a Hospital is that you can get expert opinions from across the country in seconds. For example, if there was a foot specialist in Scotland – Edinburgh, and you needed advice but were in Central London then you could quickly send a message and the exchange of mail would be quick. Meaning the treatment of patients would improve as Doctors wouldn’t have usually bothered as manual mail takes a long time. Using a WAN is 128 encrypted and password locked which means patient confidentiality is much more secure compared to the postal service.

This is because letters could be intercepted and opened easily. Patients trust that their personal information is being kept safe from unwanted intruders. In the ITU (intensive care unit) ICT is at its core. Computer software can check for changes in Heart rate, blood flow and pulse and compare this to other averages. This is good as we can see if the patient’s health is abnormal. Meaning we can resolve the problem earlier on. However, if the results we recorded manually then it would long periods of time to find trends and differences etc. The software can check the state of the patent and then that data is sent to a Doctor or Nurse.

Action can then be taken depending on the patents state, and then can be referred to different departments etc. However, pain cannot be monitored by a computer. However, results have to be recorded manually by law because Computer systems may become corrupt and the data may be lost forever, but with a manual copy it won’t get lost. Different Sensors can measure various things in our body. For example we can measure our blood pressure, heart rate, blood rate, brain activity, pulse, blood gases, blood sugar levels, electrical activity of the heart, intra cranial activity, respiratory rate and breathing rate.

This data can then be turned into information by giving it a context or meaning. For example 13, 13,56,14,64 is data but we can turn this into information by saying these are heart rates. This data can now be represented as a graph easily by importing the figures in Microsoft Excel. Trends can easily be spotted whilst in a graph. This means we can see if there is a steady decrease in heart rate over a year easily. This means that the chance of recovery is higher because we can spot trends easily, however a computer system cannot measure pain therefore patient satisfaction will decrease.

Many tools are used with in a Hospital to diagnose a health problem. One example of this would be an MRI scanner. It uses magnetic and radio waves to build up an image of inside the patients body. The patent is placed in a circular magnet which beems waves on them. A computer is needed for an MRI machine to model an image on the screen. We can use MRI machines for a number of tasks such as examining heart rate and checking if body organs work, for example the spleen or spine. An advantage of using an MRI scanner is that it can produce a detailed picture/image.

As the MRI scanner can be so detailed it can locate even the tiniest changes within the body! Meaning nothing will go unnoticed; therefore the patient’s problems will never be missed, and they will have treatment for what’s happened. This is good because patents won’t be coming back weeks later complaining over the same problem. The MRI scanner can look inside the body therefore they can now look inside the body whilst before they would have to do an operation. An operation is unadvisable as you would lose a lot of blood. Sir peter Mansfield and Paul C Lauterbur developed MRI scanner.

Both were awarded Nobel Prize in 2003. Parallel processors are used in Hospitals. It is the ability for a Computer to split up a task into instructions and then further split it up again between processors. Each processor works on part of the problem so the results are obtained more quickly. They’re used on tasks which need high processing power. For example processing patient details daily. Parallel processors are needed as there is such a high volume of patients. Expert systems are widely used within the Hospital environment.

It uses the technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to respond as a human. The primary aim of using an expert system within the Hospital is to replace experts in their field. This is so Hospitals can save money in the future, as creating a specialized robot will be cheaper because you don’t have to give it a wage, whilst with a human you’d have to give them a minimum wage. The advantages of using an expert system within a Hospital are very beneficial. One example of this would be that you have a better collection of data. For example the Computer has a good idea of what to ask and when to ask it.

However, a human may forget to ask a question, leaving gaps in data. This means a reduction in data loss. However, a disadvantage of using these systems is that the system is often asking questions which require common sense. This could leave the patient feeling frustrated. This is because a human can make comfortable assumptions whilst a Computer cannot make a guess as it would be totally random. Also, another disadvantage of an expert system is that errors could occur, meaning that the department that uses the expert system is then unable to perform normally.

As Expert systems use electricity, if there was a power cut then the department would again be incapable of performing normally. The future for Hospitals in comparison to technology is optimistic. One method that is in discussion for future use in Hospitals is the use of long distance surgery, it shall reach $2. 4 billion this year and nearly triple to $6. 1 billion by 2012. The method shall include analysing and operating on patients without the need of a surgeon near by. This method is widely appreciated by Hospitals around the world as it is cheaper as surgeons can increase the amount of operations two fold.

However, some are sceptical of the method as you won’t have precision if you aren’t actually there and there may be a lag time. This means that images of a bleed may come a few seconds late, which means this could cost the patients life. Hospitals are looking into investing in Electronic Patient Records. The aim is to put all patients’ records online so that all hospitals have access to them; if you were taken into any hospital anywhere in Britain you could access these details. This saves time as before you would have to request information manually.