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March 1998, Volume 48, Issue 3

Student's Corner

Information Technology and Health Care

Syed Mabmood Ali Shah  ( Third Year Student, The Aga Khan University, Karachi. )

Information Technology (IT) has given a new dimension to eveiy part of our lives. From online publications to online shopping, the World Wide Web has changed the way wework. Health Sciences is not an exception.In today’s world of rapid technological advancements in eveiy field, it seems impossible to keep abreastwiththe latest developments. Aswe are more concerned with medicine and health, it is appropriate to mention that every minute a new drug is made and tested, every day a different approach to cure and prevention discovered.It has become nearly impossible fora person in this part of the globe to find out the latest on the other side and vice versa. Journals published weekly or montly are very helpful in keeping the knowledge of health practitioners up to date, but the major drawback is that they are not available everywhere andifthey are, itis alittle cumbersome tolocatetheexactpiece of infonnation. Even if one does that we may only fmd a limited number of journals available.However, if we have access to the internet, we just need to go to a good search engine, type in the keywords for the information required, and with the click of a mouse button we can relax and ma moment have a number of resources around the world there in front of us. It is not just the US or Europe or Asia, it is the entire globe. Say for example you need to know the recent update on the Ebolavims status in Africa, you are desperately searching the newspapers and infectious diseases journals. which unfortunately are amonthold whereas the outbreakbeganonly a week ago. What will you do? Give thanks for having an Internet connection. You dial up the local ISP (Internet Service Provider), log on to the Internet, go to a search engine, type
“EBOLA OUTBREAK”, and the next minute you see the latest information on your desktop. Want the same thing in a fancy way? Go to the CNN website at and get the last minute update.
You need to tellyour patient something you could not on the consultation last week. All you need to do is to e-mail him the instmctions. If any patient needs an expert advice and the doc is not available in his place of residence, no problem. Use NetMeeting and he can discuss at length about his health status. Though in our country, the major part of our people do not have access to the Internet, the day is not far when every home will have a computer online. After all, there was a time, a few years ago, when television was only a luxury for rich people. Now you find antennas on every rooftop all over the country.
The recent developments is IT have made it possible to use “push technology” for your ease. Just program your browser (the progmmusedto surf the World Wide Web) forthe infomiationyou would like when you are having your bed tea every morning. Your computer wakes up before you do, logs on the net, goes to the specified places, downloads the information you are interested in, and sleeps again. You get up in the morning, turn on the computer and the morning newspaper is there. ff1 keep on advocating the Internet, these lines will probably fill up the whole journal. To cut it short, Information Technology is the future.
The most recent and state of the arttechnology related to medicine is TeleMedicine. In fact some professionals say that TeleMedicine is the future of Medicine. The top line consultants around the world are available in front of you. Currently this technology is very expensive but with the integration of the Internet and real time video on existing telecom backbones, its not far when you will not need to go physically to a doctor again. TeleRadiology is currently used in the United States, where a big hospital hosts the top of the line classified Radiologists who receive X-ray’s, CT’s and Mitt’s on their desktops and write a report there and then. TelePathology is also currently used in the Middle East and Australia. Recently, cardiothoracic surgery was conducted in Cleveland (USA) and broadcasted intraactively .amund the world including The Aga Khan University, which also included a question and answer session for the participants. This isjustabrief overview of information technology (IT). In future colums wewillreview medical information web sites on the Internet, which are useful for health professionals. But before you get the next issue, you can always trust Yahoo for the information you need. Just type http:/ in the web browser-you have and you are on the information super highway.

Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association has agreed to receive and publish manuscripts in accordance with the principles of the following committees: