Technology in Healthcare – a Long and Continuing History
Over the past few decades, technology has been transforming the way multiple industries function, to enhance the lives of millions. Of all these industries, healthcare is an example of how advancements in technology can change the lives of millions. The healthcare industry evolved hand in hand in with technology since it was driven by need. Doctors and engineers worked in harmony to create the life-saving technologies that we know today. Not only is technology changing the quality of healthcare for the ill, but it’s also transforming the patient experience. Technology like wearables and mHealth platforms to enable patients are becoming popular because of its ease of access. mHealth technology also makes the life of a Doctor much easier and allows for easy patient management processes. But what was the healthcare industry like before we had the marvels of modern day medicine? Let’s take a trip down memory lane to find out the greatest contributions of technology to healthcare, and the innovations that are expected to come.
1815 – The Stethoscope
The stethoscope was a classic invention that stemmed out of necessity. A French Doctor designed the very first one using a wooden tube because she was unable to hear the heartbeat of an obese woman by simply pressing his ear to her chest. The stethoscope today plays a very important role in the lives of physicians around the world.
1937 – Electroconvulsive Therapy
This ground-breaking therapy that was administered by an Italian professor of neuropsychiatry, Dr. Cerletti and his colleague, and it is the only therapy that’s still used for treating mental illnesses, till date!
1950s – Fetal ultrasound, kidney transplant, and heart-lung bypass
The 1950s were a golden age for healthcare with multiple, lifesaving advances which emerged in healthcare technology. Dr Edward Hon, a professor at Yale used a Doppler monitor to detect a fetal heartbeat on a woman’s abdomen for the very first time.
After failing nine times, the first ever successful kidney transplant was conducted by a team of surgeons in Boston, and the lead surgeon, Dr. Murray was a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine of Physiology.
Another breakthrough technology to come out of this decade was the heart-lung bypass machine, invented by Dr. John Gibbon. This was just the tip of the iceberg for the decades that followed, perfecting and developing his machine.
Medical records in the 1950s and ‘60s
The Health Information Management industry dates all the way back to the early 1920s. Doctors and patients alike realized the benefits of documenting patient care which is when patient records were born. This enabled professionals to treat patients in accordance to medical history which improved the quality and experience of healthcare. Paper medical records were religiously maintained up to the late 1950s. However, with advancements in technology, new systems began to fall into place. The advent of computers in the 60s encouraged universities and health facilities to merge the information storing capabilities of a computer with the dire need to effectively store medical records. At this time, universities would tie up with hospitals to store their data, however, it was still an inconvenience because of the pricing, and because the records were not immediately accessible. The first EHR software were developed and applied in the 1980s.
Healthcare software in the ‘80s and ‘90s
From electronic check-in processes to the MPI (Master Patient Index), technology in healthcare progressed by leaps and bounds in the 1980s and ’90s. The MPI was a database of patient information which was circulated electronically across every department in the facility and was one of the biggest breakthroughs of this time. The radiology and diagnostic labs were flooded with newly emerging software and computer applications. There were many notable advancements in each and every department of healthcare, and numerous breakthroughs are all attributed to the role in technology.
In the new millennium, medical errors were skyrocketing and the patient deaths caused by this major hole in the system was about to be addressed. 2000 was the year of EHR awareness due to the number of lives lost. Practitioners began realizing that the highest number of patient deaths were a result of overlapping medications and a lack of medical history. In 2004 when the US President, George Bush called for computerized health records, a revolution was on the brink of exploding. Now, there are plenty of superior EHR systems in place which can document and store volumes of data digitally, at a fraction of the cost compared to previous methods. Newly emerging technologies are not only saving patient lives but are also saving our forests by using less paper. mHealth is another technology that is enabling patients, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and labs to provide a better healthcare experience for all. These are just a few ways that technology is enhancing the healthcare industry.
Future of healthcare
From telemedicine to IoT, the future of healthcare looks extremely promising. One of the biggest breakthroughs in the medical space is the merging of the Internet of Things (IoT) with healthcare. IoT is shaping the future of healthcare. It allows companies to bring high quality, superior drugs to the market much faster and ensures safer transportation, feedback monitoring, and handling. Another promising area of application is 3D technology. Medical equipment can be created in an extremely cost-effective way, by using 3D printers. The healthcare industry spends billions on medical devices, and 3D technology can deliver better results at a fraction of the cost.
From self-service kiosks to portal technology and wearable’s, technology in healthcare has forever been on the rise and shows no signs of stopping. This is why we are excited to be a part of the healthtech revolution!
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