The integration of electronic technology in medical applications has been going on for a long time now. The newest advent is the use of implantable microchips with radio frequency identification technology (RFID). The technology involves the use of a silicon computer chip with a copper antenna and a capacitor which transmits data upon activation by an electromagnetic reader. The chip is strategically implanted under the skin by use of a hypodermic needle. This chip carries a code which upon unlocking by the electromagnetic reader avails a patient’s medical profile. The information can also be effectively updated accordingly. All data pertaining the patient is stored in a database and can be accessed or updated whenever (Associated Press, 2004). The application of this technology has picked in some hospitals in the country. VeriChip Corporation is among the leading marketers of this revolutionary technology. Its adoption has faced support and opposition in almost in equal measure. This paper will analyze the pros and cons of this technology.
Pros and Cons
The implanting of the chip is expected to have benefits such as reducing errors that are very common in medical records. In most cases, the handwritten medical records are prone to errors such as spelling mistakes and misinterpretation particularly when more than one medical personnel is involved. This is because the medical practitioners may use different terms to refer to the same health element. Electronic medical records use standardized language therefore eliminating the aforementioned challenges. The ease with which a patient’s medical history is retrieved in case of an emergency is a major plus for using the chips. It also allows quick identification of unconscious victims of accidents or disease attacks such as myocardial infarction (Correa, Alvarez, Redin, 2007).
The technology ensures unparalleled safety of stored data. In case of occurrences such as fire outbreaks and other natural disasters such as floods, paper records may be lost or damaged and vital data damaged irretrievably. With the use of the chip technology, the digital records are safely guarded against such occurrences as well as being available for use for the longest time. The use of technologically based health records can greatly help in saving time. This is because all the data can be integrated into one system. Paper-based records have always been cumbersome to handle due to their bulk nature. The filing systems are also tedious and time consuming. Furthermore, they occupy too much space in the office. The access to digital information is made universal using this technology since the data is stored in interconnected databases that can be accessed when required.
The disadvantages of using implanted chips include invasion of the patient privacy since the entire medical history can be readily accessed without the patient’s consent. The efficiency of the system is questionable especially in situations where different hospital use different EMR systems that are incompatible. The formatting of the chip codes and databases may require the medical practitioners use a particular expression which may not effectively capture a particular doctor’s opinion (Lieshout, et al., 2007).
The use of implanted chips as an advancement in the health field should be supported. The system’s advantages surpass the disadvantages and therefore are a positive step. If their use is ethically controlled, they could revolutionize the health sector as part of reducing data storage challenges. The companies manufacturing these chips ought to consult widely with other stakeholders in the health sector to ensure their usefulness is valuable.
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