Energy Initiative Blogs

Medical Technology

by User Not Found | Feb 08, 2016

For 1000 of years, medicine was a hit or miss proposition confined to mystical treatments, folk cures, and educated guesswork [5]. The healing process lacks durational or systematic approach and was regarded as a gift from the gods [5]. This period was a time where medical knowledge in the world was limited. There was no understanding of infectious disease, health outcomes were particularly weak for woman and children, surgery was unsanitary and performed without anesthesia, and cancer was largely unrecognized because of the short life duration of people.  Bleeding or fluid removal was a treatment for diseases [5]. In some countries, the trepanation techniques, which consisted of the opening of the skull, were practiced with belief to treat people with severe cranial injuries [1]. It wasn’t until the 17th century that natural science really evolved. By the 18th century, public health and hygiene received more attention and the rise in medical technologies transpired [5]. Since then, scientific discoveries and technological advances have been driving changes in medical practices.

Interestingly, despite the numerous breakthroughs in the medical field, the idea that technology can be put to use to improve the delivery of health care did not gain traction until the 19th century. For centuries, the practice of medicine was based on patient’s descriptions of symptoms, which are subjective and sometime vary greatly from person to person. Simultaneously, practitioners generally relied on personal observation with little to no base in scientific evidence to deliver medical care to patients [3]. Physicians who started to use manual techniques to diagnose patient and study dead bodies in the 18th Century constituted a minority [3].

            The 19th century represents a milestone n the history of medical technology as machines began to be increasingly used for diagnosis and therapeutic regimes [3]. Sophisticated scanning technology such as the microscope, the x-ray and eventually the MRI were introduced and gained widespread usage in health care settings [4]. However, these devices have not changed the underlying model of medical practice. To cure illnesses, doctors have to look for the symptom(s) first. To diagnose cancer, they have to see the tumor. To find a drug, they have to undergo a long, costly, and laborious process of trial and error, trying millions of natural compounds on animals to eventually find one that seems to work [4].

            With the increase in population, income differences, and other factors that affect people’s health status across the world, new medical technology is revolutionizing the way healthcare is being delivered today. Though several medical technologies have been around for decades and are in the continuous process of development, some new technologies are changing the way medicine would be practiced in the future [2]. Mobile healthcare is “the biggest technology breakthrough of our time. It is virtually touching every aspect of our lives” [2]. These technologies would allow medical practices from anywhere, anytime and from any device [2]. Today, medicine is undergoing transformative changes; moving from the use of subjective evidence provided by the patient to objective evidence obtained by mechanical and chemical technology devices [3].

Works Cited

  1. Andrushko, V. A., & Verano, J. W. (2008). Prehistoric Trepanation in the Cuzco Region of Peru: A View Into an Ancient Andean Practice. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, 137:4–13.
  2. Bajwa, M. (2014). Emerging 21st Century Medical Technologies. Pak J Med Sci., 649–655.
  3. De Miranda, M. A., Doggett, A. M., & Evans, J. T. (2005). Medical Technology . National Science Foundation , 1-98.
  4. Gottlieb, S. (2003). The Future of Medical Technology. A journal of technology and society, 79-87.
  5. Historyofmedicine. (2016). InEncyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from