Medicalization growth is the process by which certain aspects of life that were initially not part of health care become medical problems. Biomedicalization is the current process of medicalization that is undergoing constant transformation influenced by new social forms and practices of technology in medicine. New technoscientific innovations transform how health care institutions are managed and how they offer their services. Clinical innovations such as new methods of diagnosis and treatment, bioengineering, and evidenced based medicine are core of biomedicalization. A wide range of knowledge that is now available has expanded the health care services provided. Health practitioners not only concentrate on treatment of ailments but also on factors like prevention, risk assessment and treatment.
The transformation from Medicalization to biomedicalization is a process that occurred from 1890-1945. The first transformation involved the creation of new health professions, technological and scientific pharmaceutical interventions. Private practice arose during this time. In 1985, with new scientific and technological innovations and new social forms, medicalization changed its nature. Focus shifted from control of the external environment to internal environment-biological processes of all forms of life. With increasing technoscientific innovations, traditional medical practices may continue some time. However, over time the newly adopted practices replace the old ones. This process is not spontaneous but takes time through cumulative innovations.
The process of biomedicalization involves 5 key processes. The first one is the political shift of the economy. The medical industrial complex formed in the 1970s, is a concept that explains the shift to biomedicalization. It criticized changes in health practice. Another concept, the Biomedical Technoservice Complex, Inc. encouraged privatization of medical research instead of state funded research. Some of the socioeconomic changes included increased privatization of the health care sector. The health care sector has undergone centralization. This has been achieved through insurers, groups of physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Uneven distribution of medicalization processes has resulted from this transformation.
The second process is increased focus on health, surveillance and risk. Achieving and maintaining of quality health among individuals has been vocalized. Proper management of patient’s illness has replaced initial practice that only involved treatment for recovery. Risk management and surveillance practices have come up with the goal of achieving quality health and maintaining it. It is now possible to measure the degree one is to acquiring infection. Risk assessment tools measure risks to heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Science and technology has increasingly been incorporated into biomedical practice. The health care sector is computerized and applies data banking. It is now much easier to access medical records of patients. The field of molecular biology and genetics through intensified research brings the understanding of diseases to a whole new level. The developments of medical technology, such as hybridization and digitization, have enhanced transformation. They range from corneal implants to insulin production and injection to diabetics. The media through the internet, newspapers, TV sets and magazines continue to provide information on health care. The use of alternative and complementary therapies continues to rise.
Lastly, the methods used to legitimize biomedical claims have changed. Drug manufacturers have to meet new standards set by the government. These drugs are tested for safety before distribution. With changing lifestyle, biomedicalization has undergone transformation to conform to these changes. Pharmaceutical products such as Viagra are produced. Anti-aging drugs are available and high resolution body scans can be done. The knowledge of genes has enhanced understanding of human identity. Genetically acquired ailments can be identified and explained.
Clarke, A. E., Janet, S. K., Mamo, L., Fosket, J. R., & Fishman, J. R. (2003, March 15). Biomedicalization: Technoscientific transformation of health, illness and U.S. biomedicine. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from JSTOR.ORG: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1519765