In November 2004 the FDA approved the use of RFID tags (Radio-frequency identification) At the rate computer technology is evolving it takes some imagination to picture how digital advances will change health care in the coming years. The economic and socio-political climate trends indicate that the future could be less than idyllic. In the future health care information could be kept in a centralized databank with the complete rundown of a person’s identity; this means that whoever controls the data controls the medical, financial, and privacy issues of the individual.
Thinking back to the days of playing Pong on a simple text computer, large and primitive by today’s standards, no one would have guessed we would someday have nearly the total information of the world available on a tiny cell phone. Miniaturization has been the trend as microchips get smaller and more powerful. Industries like health care can obtain software that gets ever more sophisticated to consolidate medical records. The next step regarding the patient will be even more revolutionary. The advent of nanotechnology presents a world of opportunity, as it provides the capability to insert nanometer-scale microchips into the body to perform electronic functions.
Making hand motions or moving the eyes may be the way we interface with the systems of the future at some point. Just as electrodes and RFID chips are used on the exterior, it is also possible to use the technology internally. You would think that implanting such a chip would be done with limits of use under the law, which it is at the time of this writing. With many laws changing overnight and runaway centralization, it would only take a new law to require citizens to have radio frequency identification chips placed in their arms which would serve as their bar codes.
The RFID chips currently in use are injected into a patient’s arm; they don’t carry medical data on their own but when scanned they provide access to the databank where the records are on file. Greater technological progress will mean that a person’s history can be followed, giving a temptation to consolidate more data into those chips. Research indicates that just such a plan is underway with the goal of having all medical records, financial records, criminal records, and so on to be available to the authorities.
Methods of keeping electronic medical records will likely follow the trend of accelerating technology to the point of making it intrusive. It is inevitable that the ease of managing an inventory of the population will not go unnoticed by governments in search of methods of easy control. Medical publications presented the results of a survey done in February 2005 of 253 Chief Information Officers and Directors of Information Systems at healthcare facilities (The 2005 Leadership Survey). The healthcare software survey indicated that 55% of them considered auto-identification as the IT solution that was most important to their institutions. The importance would be considerably higher in military and political circles.
The march of progress goes on but there are two possible futures, either one of enlightenment where patients can count on new miracles of modern medicine to help the living or a future of an Orwellian nightmare where a totalitarian bureaucracy that can turn off your chip when it is displeased – sort of a big cable company. Another type of chip has been developed that is so tiny it fits on the end of a syringe and can attach itself to the cortex of the brain. It would be capable of altering brainwave frequencies to make the subject either docile or violent. The potential for abuse is obvious and we can only hope that privacy remains intact throughout the political power-grabbing.
SEO consultant Pat Boardman writes this in respect to medical EMR software and hardware specialist IT Medical Technology, suppliers of panel pc units and wall mounted kiosks for long-term health ca