The procedures and capabilities in the modern healthcare industry have grown exponentially over the past century. It is possible to distinguish these developments by a few categories: medical equipment, data collection/record-keeping, and research.
It would not be possible to treat patients on the scale that is done today without the massive improvements in medical technology. Being able to track quickly and efficiently a patient's condition, while also discerning with a high-level of accuracy the nature of a patient's health issue, has proven indispensable for the industry. For example, the EKG machine was developed in the early 20th century with the basic premise of measuring the electric activity of the heart. The intricacies of the machine have become incredibly more advanced, allowing for the EKG to be transportable, lightweight, and compatible with electronic databases to visualize the different waves retrieved from its operation.
Another example would be remote monitoring equipment. Pacemakers, among other wearable equipment, have become more advance in their ability to communicate information about the patient. While these types of technology are increasing their effectiveness, they are also making tracking a patient's condition much easier to accomplish, even from remote locations.
Telemedicine and telehealth have also expanded greatly in recent years. By incorporating doctor visits and suggestions for medication onto online platforms, patients have greater access to care that is not limited to their ability to go see a doctor in person. Also, in the cases where seeing someone in the hospital is not possible, video technology has made connecting people with their family members and loved ones more capable than ever.
According to the New York Times, telehealth is "a viable alternative [to in-person care], even offering some distinct advantages." Telehealth has been a pioneer in accessibility for all kinds of patients. There has also been a shift from paper records to electronic health records, proving to be much more efficient and capable for those who might not see the same doctors and allows patient medical information and history to be transferred much simpler, without the need for actual paper documents.
The expansion of the electronic health records system has also served a revolutionizing purpose in the healthcare industry, showing that large numbers of patients can be kept track of with a greater certainty using this easier navigation tool. Also, the system of electronic health records is linked with health informatics, or the processing and management of these large amounts of patient data. Access to this data provides greater care for patients and can also be used to analyze larger trends, allowing hospitals to continually make better strategic decisions to maximize the efficiency of their workflow.
Without risks and experimental research, it would not have been possible to make many of the advancements we enjoy today. Creating cures and vaccinations for various diseases that have previously plagued us has been a pinnacle of medical research, allowing different medical conditions like HIV/AIDS and polio to be non-threatening or essentially eradicated from the general population respectively.
In terms of being able to understand more about the current illnesses or conditions of a patient or the potential for them to develop certain conditions, genome sequences have been an incredible advancement in discoveries about the human population. The sequencing of a person's genome allows for information that we thought could never be possible to obtain about an individual, as the genes in specific DNA strands that serve a regulatory function, or if certain genes are indicators for the presence or development of a disease.
Technology has transformed medical research to be more precise than ever as well, by allowing the analysis of things like diseases or different species of birds on the cellular level. These developments allow more testing of solutions to medical conditions and the ability to know with a greater degree of certainty that a proposed solution will work. The experimental research that occurs in the lab setting has shown how the rapid increase in technological advancement makes room for innovation that makes unsolvable problems solvable.
As technology continues to advance, all of these different sectors of healthcare and the knowledge that is necessary to keep people healthy will advance as well.