In the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, an omnipresent computer named HAL monitors all activity aboard a spacecraft on a critical mission. The single-mindedness of this artificial intelligence makes HAL helpful and life-saving, but misses the mark on some decisions that require a more human touch. While our year 2017 has not yet brought us interstellar craft equipped with AI, we are living in a time when technology is supporting almost every field, including healthcare. This post will explore how technology is helping us with hand-hygiene compliance, and how, like HAL, there are some clear advantages as well as some disadvantages. (Thankfully, no hand hygiene technology is able to eject non-compliers out the airlock. Yet.)
A month ago, a team of international researchers successfully used gene editing to correct a heart defect in human embryos. This is the first successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit the human genome, and hints at a future where we can delete disease-causing genes from future generations. What most people hearing this astounding news might now know, however, is that the CRISPR technology is not man-made, per se - it's bacteria-made. Today's post will explore how the future of gene editing was brought to us by the humble prokaryote, the bacteria.
Our previous post presented some of the problems with the current fee-for-service payment model used in healthcare. In response to these costly problems, there are a number of alternative payment models being tested, with promising results. Today we will look at the alternatives that seem to be picking up speed as we move toward reducing our nation's healthcare costs.
As hard as it is to believe, most hospitals do not know how much their services cost. They know what they charge, but that number has almost nothing to do with what individual services actually cost them as providers. This is about to change. With shockingly rising healthcare costs (17% of our gross national product, and rising at 4% per year) and frighteningly shrinking coffers with which to pay for it, there is a growing movement to move from fee-for-service payment models to alternative value-based payments. As we move towards these new cost-reducing models, what will be the impact on infection control?