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The public health sector in North America has experienced a lot of changes in the face of technology. The traditional ways of attending to the sick are slowly being done away with as many health care establishments in the world brace for newer and sophisticated ways of availing services to the sick. According to Wurman (2004), public health denotes the art of preventing diseases and preserving health through the well coordinated efforts of healthcare officials and staff. On the other hand, technology refers to the process by which human beings use tools and techniques in order to better their lives and solve problems that would have otherwise been impossible or too difficult to solve (Jonas, 2007). Public health is mainly instituted for the general public so as to ensure the improvement of health. It is this that prompts the North American proponents of public health to be inclined towards technology so as to improve public health delivery.
Technology, through the internet, has brought about online health care. The purpose of public health to provide medical services and related professional help in North America has been made easier through this invention of online health care (Jonas, 2007). Of much celebration is the fact that patients can access medical advice online through authorized links. Again, online public health care has improved the relationship between doctors and patients. While there is so much to celebrate in online health care, there are some disadvantages. Sharon (2007) reveals that the implementation of technology will cost governments approximately $ 56 millions in developing countries (In Asia and Africa for example) in the public health sector, so as to fully be compliant with the technological advances in developed countries like those in North America. Online health care services have slowly made the physical presence of doctors and other officers irrelevant. The provision of endless information on health that is not edited and approved puts people in an awkward and dangerous position.
The forces driving the changes in the public health in North America are both industry and market based. The major one is the changing public health tastes and preferences propelled by the 21st century consumer dynamics. Currently, the high level of consumer awareness, growing economic power and the availability of internet at homes has really changed the consumption patterns of public health information not only in North America but the entire world. Information is now available at the click of a button and many expectations will be met by technology (Leavitt, et al., 2006). Technology is relatively cheap and gives access to global information and therefore patients find it advantageous to visit the internet for medical and related information. The industry itself has also gradually evolved to pave way for collaborations and information sharing through the web technology where practitioners can share information as well as disseminate to colleagues.
With the advancement of technology, there is an emerging trend in the way medical information is being relayed in North America. Technology will readily avail medical information to the general public thereby raising their standards and expectations from the health care providers. This wide understanding will foster great expectations with the introduction of new definitions on public health. This empowerment with information will make the consumers vital determinants of the industry rather than passive recipients of public health information. The times when the physician was a key figure in the public health process will be long gone paving way to patient self service portals which will revolutionaries the health care industry. The mutual relationship that existed between the doctors and their clients will shift to cyber based interactions with information's being available at many internet centers (Jonas, 2007).
The implication of technology on public health in North America has two facets: the physical and the patient perspectives. For North American doctors who are for the patient autonomy, this is a good avenue for this while for patients who are not careful with the information they access will find themselves clashing with doctors on misinformation basis (Sharon, 2007). This is likely to create mistrust between doctors and patients as the patients will feel the internet is superior to the doctor's advice. This revolution will reach its peak when doctors will be able to grant online access to client medical records leaving them to play a consultancy role in the health care provision. The extend of these developments can today be explained by the availability of House call which was initially developed to help physicians in decision making with for programs, the medical encyclopedia, symptom analysis, medical record and drug interaction. Sultz and Young (2008) reveal that 75% of the public health institutions do not have advanced technology in North America to be able to handle medical emergencies and procedures.
Despite the fact that the physical interactions between physicians and patients will reduce, it is expected that the real time delivery of reports to both parties will serve the purpose. Any concerns arising from the reports can therefore be addressed online through the interactive tool. Therefore, many doctors will focus their energy to research and developments by accessing journals, medical reports and web interactions with their industry counterparts (Sharon, 2007). This will enable them in keeping abreast with recent developments in their spheres of practice consequently adding value to their clients. The trend is towards providing incentives for provision of medical information online target pharmaceutical companies in North America. The developments in this industry are no doubt moving at break neck speed with institutions joining in to provide licensing, schools and other institutional frameworks to support the developments. Sharon (2007) contends that up to 40% of the public health institutions in North America depend on government funding and lack adequate finances to be able to be effective in the provision of medical care.
The impact of technology through technology on public health is real and unstoppable giving few options to the industry players to adopt the same. Physicians must therefore prepare to embrace this and adapt to the modern practice lest they find themselves obsolete. They are expected to take proactive approach to people's health by availing as much information as possible through the development of websites loaded with information on health.