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Medical reforms and technology today

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3 Author(s)
Hyatt, S. ; Bioeng. Program, Texas A&M Univ., TX, USA ; Pallister, M. ; Lessard, Charles S.

Engineering today is the backbone for support and advancement of the environment to keep the United States a world leader in the realm of health care. Over the past year, the expense for health care has astoundingly risen by over $100 billion. Hence, many politicians have proposed several ideas for a reform policy that will cut spending on health care, yet improve it at the same time. The Clinton plan seemed to spark the greatest uproar among its supporters as well as its antagonists. In any event, reform of health care is needed to stabilize the incredible spending that has come about. Some 650,000 individuals are presently employed in the medical technology profession. Any health care reform will directly affect these individuals and their families. Consider how the bioengineer will be affected. The authors first define the profession as devoted to improving and enhancing the environment and animal and human life through research and development. Since this is such a wide field, almost any reform made in the health care system will have an impact. For example, if the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is cut, research will be halted on marine technology and how aquatic organisms can protect human health and increase the safety of food products. Also, studies that focus on genetic engineering of marine plants and animals to help produce useful enzymes, polymers, and pharmaceutical products would be discontinued. Any reforms, whether loyal to Clinton or an alternative plan, will force an entirely new set of parameters and specifications onto the vast spectrum of health care. Within that spectrum lies the vital field of medical technology. All changes pertaining to medical applications of technology affect the biomedical engineer. Due to the ambiguity of the proposals presented, the effects on medical technology cannot be pre-determined as being beneficial or detrimental. One can, however, assess the limited information that is available on this matter and speculate. Regarding the proposed reforms' affect on the biomedical engineer, there appears to be certain key issues that need to be addressed. One of these pertains to the question of continued research funding. Within the pages of the Clinton plan there exists a section devoted to a vague and ambiguous exposition on the future of health research. The individual is left with more than one confusing vision of the future

Published in:

Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 4 )