Breakthroughs In Medicine
- 1. Introduction
Prior to enumerate the great innovations in the field of medicine and healthcare system, this article ensures to
have a clear definition of innovation. The term of innovation derives from the Latin word innovatus, which is the
noun form of innovare means to renew or change, comes from in-“into” + novus-“new”. Although the term is
broadly used, innovation generally refers to the creation of better or more effective products, processes,
technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society . What is innovation? As Griffiths
P. A. noted:
xPlus existing knowledge adapted and diffused through the economy .
By definition, medicine is the science of diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease and damage to the body or
mind . Today’s medical science creates effective treatments for diseases and injuries by building on existing
discoveries and knowledge. This incremental, improvement-focused approach is a useful means of meeting the
urgent needs of patients diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, which attempts to transform our understanding of
disease. In many cases, innovation requires that we put aside what we think we know and start fresh .
Change is necessary because our society needs the next generation of physicians to be technologically savvy and
driven toward innovation. With the increasing prevalence of portable electronic devices in everyday life and the
explosion of social media, medicine needs to accept and embrace modernization so that we can begin to construct
guidelines for the appropriate use of technology .
Technological growth is geometric, not linear, with one industry’s previous inventions spawning new
developments in another. This trend comes into play, for example, with medical technologies which have profited
from previous developments in the electronic defense industries .
The hard-working health care professionals we have today get a lot of help from amazing medical devices. The
doctors, nurses and others from more than a century, and especially those from more than two centuries ago, would
be amazed at the things that we can do in health care today .
Over the years, numerous breakthroughs have been achieved in medicine and health care. Discoveries have
helped to extend the lives of people. Medicine and medical technology has become the antidote for illnesses and
diseases that formerly resulted in the destruction of entire societies. This article seeks to give an outline of great
medical innovations which can be considered as revolutions in healthcare system.
1.2. Material and method
This review article is an attempt to describe important medical innovations. Key issues were identified through
review of literature on innovation and medicine. It begins with categories of greatest medical innovations, goes on
with description of the subdivisions of this categories while yielding a brief history of innovation in medicine. It
concludes today medical innovations can be considered as a revolution in healthcare helping to improve quality and
extend lives of people.
It was not until the 19th century that physicians increasingly used machines for diagnosis or therapeutics.
Chemistry also began to play an important role and was increasingly used in the 18th and 19th centuries to diagnose
aliments such as diabetes, anemia, diphtheria, and syphilis . Medicine slowly changed from the use of subjective
evidence provided by the patient to objective evidence obtained by mechanical and chemical technology devices .
Some of the early breakthroughs in medical technology were the thermometer, stethoscope, microscope,
ophthalmoscope, laryngoscope, and x-ray. These devices allowed the physician to hear and see parts of the body that
had previously been observed only in cadavers. The device considered to be the first diagnostic medical acquiring
information about the lungs and heartbeats of patients. However, skeptics initially challenged its merit and
The use of electricity resulted in the invention of the x-ray. Roentgen, a professor of physics in Bavaria,
discovered by accident a radiation that could penetrate solid objects of low density. He also found that these
phenomena could be viewed on a fluorescent screen and stored on photographic film. The invention of x-rays
allowed doctors to view the inside of the body without surgery. .
Medicine was revolutionized in the 19th century and beyond by advances in chemistry and laboratory techniques
and equipment, old ideas of infectious disease epidemiology were replaced with bacteriology and virology .
Innovation and medicine go together. The ancient Egyptians are thought to have performed surgery back in 2750
BC, and the Romans developed medical tools such as forceps and surgical needles. In modern times medicine has
been transformed by waves of discovery that have brought marvels like antibiotics, vaccines and heart stents. Now
the industry is convinced that a third revolution is under way: the convergence of biology and engineering. A recent
report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that physical sciences have already been transformed by
their adoption of information technology (IT), advanced materials, imaging, nanotechnology and sophisticated
modelling and simulation . Michael A. De Miranda classified greatest medical innovations into 3 groups , as
x Devices: There are a number of interesting medical devices that contribute to treat different conditions
x Technology: Advances in medical technology allow us to have access to a number of advantages that
help increase the ability to diagnose and treat conditions.
x Drugs: It is important to note that some of the best medical innovations have been in the area of drug
treatments and therapies.
Miranda continued to illustrate the artificial hearts, robotic catheter, handheld medical scanner, bone injector
drill, dialysis machine, lens implants, artificial joints and skin antennas, as innovative devices. Electrocardiography,
X-ray, nano-healing, electric health records, laser surgery, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, organ
transplant and skin antennas were put in technology category. He exampled the penicillin aspirin, insulin, oral
contraceptive, vaccination, statins, smart pill and viagra as the innovative samples in drug category .
One of the biggest accomplishments in medical history of devices was the invention of the artificial heart.
Artificial hearts date back to the mid-1950s when Dr. Paul Winchell first patented an artificial heart . Artificial
heart remains one of the long-sought goals of modern medicine .
Another device, Robotic catheter is designed to enhance a physician’s ability to perform complex operations
using a small flexible tube called a catheter . A robotic catheter can be used in a number of systems, including
for cardiac surgery and urology, in order to help where hands can’t go.
The medical device of handheld medical scanner can help health professionals to provide detection, as well as
measure wounds. New scanner provides cancer, diabetes, and bacterial detection in the palm of your hand .
When we need to have medicine or some other fluid injected into the bone, a bone injector drill is the way to
have it done. Intraosseous (IO) needle placement provides a route for administering fluid, blood, and medication
[16, 17].The artificial kidney machine or dialysis machine has helped many awaiting kidney transplant. Dialysis
helps remove toxins from the body, just as the kidneys are supposed to. The ability to improve vision through lens
implants is one of the great medical innovations . Medical devices that offer less invasive treatment options, with
better clinical outcomes and shorter recovery times, will create tremendous value in the next few years .
With the convergence of many scientific and technology breakthroughs, the pace of medical invention is
accelerating, inspiring hope for better clinical outcomes with less invasive procedures and shorter recovery times.
These changes will drive demand for new lower cost diagnosis, monitoring and treatment procedures. Few
important samples of medical innovations in relation to technology are as following:
Electrocardiography (EKG): is a transthoracic interpretation of electrical activity of the heart over a period of
time as detected by electrodes attached to the outer surface of the skin and recorded by a device external to the body
X-ray: The ability to see inside the body makes it possible for increased diagnosis. X-rays were first observed
and documented in 1895 by a German scientist;Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. Roentgen called it X to indicate it was
an unknown type of radiation, still occasionally referred to as Roentgen ray in German-speaking countries .
Nano-healing: Nanotechnology offers a number of interesting opportunities. New nanomaterials can be used to
stop bleeding. The material was discovered in the early 1990s, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that its potential for
stopping bleeding was discovered. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke was exploring its potential use to promote the healing of
brain injuries. When he applied a liquid containing the synthetic peptides to a wound in animal, bleeding in the area
stopped within a few seconds .
Electronic health records (EHR): is an electronic version of a patients medical history that may include all of the
key administrative clinical data relevant to that persons care under a particular provider, including demographics,
progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data and
radiology reports .
Laser surgery: Laser stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers work by
producing an intense beam of bright light that travels in one direction . The use of lasers in surgery and for other
procedures has reduced invasiveness as well as reducing healing time. Eye surgery has especially benefited.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make
pictures of organs and structures inside the body instead of harmful x-rays. In many cases MRI gives different
information about structures in the body than can be seen with other imaging methods . It’s a way of seeing
what’s inside, without doing as much damage.
Ultrasound: also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency
sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation. Because
ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal
organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessel . It can also be used to help assess fetal development.