"Health technology" is a very broad term that refers to medical devices, medications, procedures and systems that improve people's health care and quality of life. It includes the devices used to diagnose diseases, the medications administered to treat diseases, the way health records are organized and accessed by both physicians and patients and much more.

On a number of levels, health technology has played a large role in improving health care in recent decades. Advances in health technology, for example, have led to longer life expectancies, a reduction in hospital days and a drop in disability rates and mortality rates.

Health Technology in Improving Patient Care

Despite these advances, many improvements remain to be made, particularly on a global scale. One of the concerns of the World Health Organization is to increase the availability of cutting-edge health technology in developing nations. For example, devices that are commonly used for diagnosis in the United States, such as X-rays or computed tomography (CT scans), are often difficult to gain access to in low-income countries. Even access to basic medicine that is taken for granted in the United States is a real concern in developing nations.

Health Technology in Improving Efficiency

Beyond cutting-edge devices and medications, another category of health technology is health information technology. This branch of health technology is largely devoted to improving access to health information and patient records. The gradual adoption of electronic health records is designed to increase the efficiency and safety of health care.

SOURCES: World Health Organization; U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration

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