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In this chapter we'll take a look at some of the ways in which information technology is used in medicine, and the benefits that it has brought to people with disabilities.

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Introduction In this chapter we'll take a look at some of the ways in which information technology is used in medicine, and the benefits that it has brought to people with disabilities. Computers in medicine Computers have had a very significant impact on the quality of medical services. For example: * Medical records stored in hospital information systems improve the quality of patient care. They are more accurate, they can keep track of prescriptions and tests administered, hospital admissions, dietary requirements and so on. Records are less likely to go astray than manual records and they can be made available to authorised people at any location. * Databases of organ donors and patients needing transplants mean that when an organ becomes available, a match can quickly be found. * Computerised devices such as pacemakers, artificial organs and prostheses (artificial limbs) have enabled tens of thousands of people to live longer and have a fuller life. * Computerised monitoring devices can keep 24-hour watch on critically ill patients and sound the alarm if vital signs change for the worse. * Expert medical systems can help to diagnose diseases often at remote locations far from the care of a specialist. ...read more.


Also called knowledge-based systems, they are able to store and manipulate knowledge so that they can help a user to solve a problem or make a decision. An expert system of this type is being developed in Australia to assist doctors in the diagnosis of melanoma, one of the most common types of cancer that manifests itself as dark patches similar to moles on the skin. In order to build the expert system, 45 different cancerous melanomas and 176 similar but benign non-melanomas were photographed and the images processed to remove hair, oil bubbles, etc. to extract the essential features. From these pictures and the known correct diagnoses, asset of 'rules' can be programmed into the expert system so that when presented with a photograph of a new skin lesion, the computer can make a diagnosis with a high degree of accuracy. The next step is to develop a real-time device. Skin Polar-probe Operation 1. An image of the lesion is captured by the Polar-probe camera system and downloaded onto the Polar-probe computer system. 2. Calibration is performed. Image pre-processing follows to mask out hairs and oil bubbles oil bubbles and to identify the boundaries of the lesion. ...read more.


Once this has been done, the user is ready to go and steps out of the house. The computer will then say things like "Walk 100 yards, turn left and then right". It will also inform you of landmarks on the way, such as a fire station, and mention the numbers of houses or buildings on a street. Source: Nick Nuttall, The Sunday Times, 27 March 1996. Exercises 1. Computers and microprocessors are being used to help the physically disabled in many different ways. For each of two different types of handicap, briefly describe a way in which patients can be helped by this new technology. 2. Briefly describe two examples of how computers could aid surgeons performing operations. You must show clearly the role of the computer in your answer. 3. Research an application of information technology in one of the following areas: medicine, the home, education, helping people to overcome disabilities, environmental work. Prepare and deliver a short presentation. Your sources could include magazines and newspapers, TV programs such as Tomorrow's World, the Internet and library textbooks. Chapter 4 - ICT in a Caring Society Section 1 - Information: Nature, Role and Content Rai Karra Page 1 4/20/2007 ...read more.

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