Thursday, March 8, 2018

Newer technology is not necessarily better than its predecessor

The impact of technology has percolated through almost every corner of our lives in the past few years. The advent of social media has revolutionized communication.

Medicine too has benefited tremendously from the advances in technology, which have made it easier to practice medicine. Doctors are now better equipped to diagnose and manage their patients. But on the flip side of it, there is a pressure to keep up with the rapidly changing and advancing technology. The older version then becomes outdated and may even be publicized as that.

We don’t buy a new computer every year or for that matter, an ultrasound, or an echocardiography machine or CT scan every year.

Whenever a new technology is introduced in the market, we face a dilemma whether to acquire the latest version or not.

Any new advancement in technology definitely comes with some improvements or some new features.

But just because something is new, does not mean that it is better. Newer technology is not necessarily better than its predecessor or its earlier version.

For instance, most advances in Echocardiography machine may help the echocardiographer by making diagnosis easy, but may not offer any additional advantage to the patient.

Newer stents may be easy to maneuver, but may be required in only 1-2% of cases. And, in the hands of an experienced interventional cardiologist, this may not even matter.

Any technology lasts for 6-10 years. This means that spares and service will be available for this period of time.

Earlier, technological advances came to India 6-10 years late, but now they happen parallel to those in the West. But this does not mean that one should shift to the newer technology, each time it is introduced.

A stent which is available today cannot be outdated tomorrow.

Availability, accessibility and most importantly, affordability are key concerns in health care delivery, especially in a country like ours. Hence, focus should not be just on the acquisition of the newer technology.

For the large majority of the population, affordable health care means anything introduced in the last 6-10 years, but with the caution that it is not banned or prohibited in terms of safety. Effective use of technology, clinically as well as in terms of cost, will make health care more affordable and accessible and ensure best care possible for patients.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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