Healthcare has come a long way since the days of faith healers and trial and error-based cures. In the last century alone, the average life expectancy has almost doubled, particularly in developed nations. The continued decline of armed conflict around the world has no doubt contributed to this historical milestone. But healthcare itself has also taken huge strides in preserving life.
Science has played a key role in this improvement. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 was just the beginning of the widespread microscopic approach to medicine. Vaccines have also been particularly vital in minimizing the effects of certain illnesses to public health, like smallpox and polio.
Technology, of course, has been helping healthcare the whole way. For the most part, it has been enabling the industry to move forward with more discoveries and more effective ways to make use of them. Many of these innovations weren’t even made exclusively for healthcare use, but their contributions have been instrumental in shaping what medicine has become today.
This article will take a closer look at these technologies that are not necessarily medical in nature, but have advanced the industry in meaningful ways.
According to the British Institute of Radiology, In 1895, German mechanical engineer and physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered strange rays that he named ‘x.’ After using said rays on his wife’s left hand, they created the very first x-ray image. This discovery later earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
Incidentally, this huge discovery was made when Röntgen was studying the physics of vacuum tubes. But his work sparked massive interest and investment from the medical industry at that time. Many hospitals began putting together their very first radiology departments. This event changed the way healthcare conducted diagnostics and treatments even though it wasn’t what Röntgen initially intended.
This timely piece of sustaining medical equipment has roots in mining and the military. The idea of using respirators as protective equipment started in Rome in the first century AD. And Elder suggested the use of animal bladder to cover the noses and mouths of miners and protect them from inhaling lead oxide dust.
This idea was later developed to counter everything from smog in the streets of London to harmful chemicals that may be used in warfare. The first respirator was patented in the US ion 1848.
After the first world war, the US military developed respirators to battle chemical warfare. This led to the creation of more efficient and cost-effective filters in the 1930s.
These designs were eventually made into the air-supplied respirators that are still in use to this day. The recent pandemic has highlighted a shortage of these devices in many areas around the world.
The surge in innovations in communication technology has been phenomenal in the last few decades. The invention of mobile devices, in particular, is one of the most important technologies that have shaped the modern digital world. These innovations have had far-reaching effects in most, if not all, industries. But their contributions to healthcare have also been noteworthy.
Telehealth is one of the most recent and impactful applications of communication technology in the healthcare industry. The ability to provide quality healthcare from a distance has been tremendously beneficial to patients, medical practitioners, and healthcare facilities. It saves time, money, and work hours while also reducing risk for all parties involved. It’s a relatively simple application of an already remarkable technology.
According to Beckers Hospital Review, telehealth will likely continue to gain traction and show further improvements down the line.
Remote Patient Monitoring or RPM devices are another excellent example of how communication technology is being used in the industry. These devices allow medical professionals to stay up to date about their patients’ status by constantly monitoring different chemical and physical levels. These devices now have the ability to automatically alert physicians when certain risks are present. According to Business Insider, a promising future for this sector will involve more focus on preventing illnesses rather than caring for the sick.
Like communication technology, this area of digital innovations is already being significantly utilized in most of the world industries, including healthcare. The increasing tendency of the world to go fully digital also raises the potential of this technology to endless heights.
In healthcare, Electronic Health Records or EHRs are likely the most impactful contribution of software to date. It may sound simple in theory – moving all patient records to an online database – but the benefits have been incredible.
By moving a patient’s personal information, medical history, past treatments and procedures to a digital database, record-keeping has become more reliable and less time-consuming for both sides. It also improved the integrity of the actual data.
Most importantly, an online database grants access to authorized users from wherever they are. This means hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities or medical professionals can gain instant access to these records using a mere fraction of the time it would have taken just a couple of decades ago.
Other honorable mentions in this category include appointment scheduling software systems that have features like online portals and appointment reminder services and inventory management systems that let medical professionals better care for equipment and other facility resources. These examples may not be exclusive for healthcare, but they have drastically improved administration in the industry.