In the past decade, U.S. health care has gone through many changes and has been influenced by new trends. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, many U.S. citizens were uninsured. Often, those without benefits only sought care in extreme cases, and then visited hospital emergency rooms for needed care. This drove up costs, as hospitals tried to recoup their losses of providing care to the uninsured, by raising prices.
With the Affordable Care Act, many more Americans are able to have health benefits. Those who previously did not get regular checkups and preventive care are able to do so. While some people don’t like the fact that they are required to be insured, this event should help reduce, or at least contain rising costs to an extent.
Some new technologies, such as guided surgical arms and telemedicine visits show promise. Image guided surgery can reduce the time for patients under anesthesia and make procedures less invasive. It is particularly useful for orthopedic procedures, where pins and screws must be inserted.
Telemedicine is a term used to describe any interaction between practitioner and patient that occurs remotely. Some patients may have office visits virtually, by conferencing with the practitioner online. More managed care organizations are paying for virtual office visits, in an effort to control costs.
One of the advantages of telemedicine is time savings. With more U.S. citizens seeking health care services, and an aging population needing more care, a shortage of primary care providers is expected. The ability to conduct virtual office visits can help reduce the burden on primary care physicians and other providers.
Health care today is complex, but begins with the basics of primary care and prevention. More efforts are being made to provide screening for a variety of cancers and other serious health issues, and develop meaningful health education programs.