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It is common to think of the pediatrician or any general practitioner as the doctor who uses the stethoscope to check your heart and maybe light to check your ears and throat. In reality though, pediatricians have integrated other more advanced technologies into their medical practice. This can have the overall effect of increasing efficiency and potentially bringing more care to more patients on a daily basis.
One way in which pediatricians utilize technology in their jobs is through the use of assistive technology. According to the University of Washington, assistive technology is a generic term that refers to various technologies utilized by those with disabilities that allow them to perform tasks they would otherwise not be able to perform. Examples include simple items such as wheelchairs for mobility and more complex technologies such as software that helps disabled people access computers.
In a 2008 article published by "Pediatrics," Larry W. Desch, M.D., and Deborah Gaebler-Spira, M.D., note that pediatricians often prescribe the use of assistive technology to help children who cannot otherwise help themselves. In particular, the pediatrician might suggest the use of a particular device or provide a referral to another physician who can complete an assessment and provide the prescription. Desch and Gaebler-Spira note, in particular, the use of assistive technology in helping children with communication impairments. This type of technology can help both the child and the physician. Physicians who can better communicate with their patients may be able to provide more effective treatments.
Pediatricians also use laboratory technology and other diagnostic technologies like x-rays in their daily practices. While they may not directly administer the tests in the laboratory and may not take the diagnostic images used to assess disease and injuries, pediatricians are dependent upon the results of those tests in order to make proper assessment of certain medical conditions.
Another important way in which the entire medical community is evolving is in the use of electronic information in place of paper medical records. Pediatricians are increasingly using various information technology systems in order to quickly retrieve and store patient medical records. Some technologies make it possible for pediatricians and their assistants to enter symptoms into a database and receive suggested diagnoses that the pediatrician may not have originally considered. Pediatricians can utilize these types of technologies to also increase efficiency in their practice. By having a patient's entire medical record at their fingertips, they can avoid potential complications that may come from prescribing medicines or treatments that might be detrimental to the patient because of a preexisting condition.
Pediatricians are integrating technology in their practice through the use of smartphone technology. Smartphones have applications that let pediatricians immediately access information they might not otherwise be able to get to in a moment's notice. For instance, as a "Washington Post" article points out, some doctors use applications that allow them to pull up pictures of various medicines patients might be taking but do not know the name of. Allowing the patient or parent of the patient to identify the medicine by sight can help pediatricians avoid complications arising from combining the wrong medicines.
Smartphones can also be utilized for scheduling and organization purposes. Some pediatricians have their own practice but also complete rounds in hospitals or teach in universities. The busy schedule of a pediatrician can be simplified by smartphone technology.
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Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.