Progression is a positive, but how does technology affect your health ?
Health is definitely a right that we all deserve, and we all want the best and latest treatment options to improve our health and treat any illnesses. Improvements in medicine, equipment and treatment improves our daily lives and increases our life expectancy, but not all the new advances are beneficial or essential treatment options. Therefore it is very important to distinguish between the essential, the nice-to-have and the options still in development. One thing is for certain, our understanding of diseases and the treatment options are improving at an astonishing rate and it is sometimes very difficult to make informed choices as to the benefit of new treatment options and diagnostic equipment.
So how does your doctor make decisions as to the best treatment options for you? Firstly it is very important for your doctor to keep up to date with new advances and technology, but also essential to establish the benefit of these. Your doctors’ experience contributes greatly to the decision making, and it is important to note that doctors might differ in their opinions. There is nothing untoward in this. We are all human and it might be that your doctor is comfortable in the use and has a lot of experience in for instance the use of a certain glaucoma drainage device, whereas another surgeon might prefer another device or procedure entirely. Then there is of course the guidelines provided by research and representing organizations consisting of doctors that are considered to be experts in their fields. These are aimed at providing guidance for treatment, but there are very important points to consider before accepting guidance. For instance when studies provide new insight into treatment guidelines the strength of the study is very important and considerations include the publishing authors of the study, the size of the study population and the reasoning behind the conclusions made. The evaluation of new studies is an important skill your doctor developed through years of trading, and it would a grave mistake to believe everything you read, especially so with all the information we are inundated with, especially so on the web.
What is the downside of all these new technologies? One major negative is the cost of course. We all want the best, especially so pertaining to our health, and we all deserve the best, but this I not an ideal world and medical aid funders are not always very accepting of the cost of new technologies despite the fact that it might hold major benefits for our health. The fact that our life expectancies are increasing is partly due to all these new technologies and treatment options but considering the fact that our use of these will exponentially increase as we get older, it is very important to plan for this. Belonging to a medical aid alone is sometimes not enough as additional funds might be needed. This is where Prescribed Minimum Benefits are important. These are medical conditions like diabetes, glaucoma and cataracts. The law dictates that these life and/or organ threatening conditions be paid for in full by your medical aid, but this is often not the reality. This is an unfortunate situation and complicated to evaluate due to all the role players involved, the uncertainty of the law and the fact that the government ceased to provide clear guidelines since 2006. It is essential that you discuss your treatment options with your doctor and that you also have the peace of mind to discuss the cost of treatment with him (or her) and his staff.