Health and Tech - A Timeline

  • Published: February 26, 2024


The history of healthtech

The WHO defines healthtech to be the “application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures, and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives.”

However, to put a date or time to when technology has been used in healthcare would be a fruitless effort. In the early stages of civilization, human technology was still nascent, and medical knowledge was a lot more traditional. But at some point in history, technology began to shape our understanding of our body and its biological functions.

  1. The first significant healthtech impact may have been the discovery of the microscope and consequently, microbiology. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor, also was the “father of microbiology”, as he spent his days observing the world and the human body on the microscopic level.
  2. Discoveries in health and tech in the 19th century collectively changed the course of healthcare. From improvements in monitoring technology (thanks to the inventions of the stethoscope and the uses of X-ray), to the germ theory and the introduction of disinfection, the number of lives saved since are innumerable. This also contributed to research and advancement of the medical field as a whole.
  3. The 20th century saw significant shifts in the course of healthcare, with the introduction of medical records (first on paper and then, the electronic realm) and a global unity in declaring goals like “Health for all,” as was recorded in the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration. As a result, several eradication programs were kicked off, and the complete eradication of Smallpox was accomplished with a global unification of effort in health and tech.

By the end of the 20th century, with the rise of the internet globally, an entirely new, more decentralized form of healthtech began to emerge.

Health and tech today:

Healthtech managed to keep up with general technology remarkably well in the 20th century, from adopting the use of computers in the 60s to maintain records, to introducing the concept of electronic health records (EHRs) in the 80s. However, the healthcare industry is a complexity – one where regulations must be carefully assessed to ensure healthcare continues to serve all.

This is evident in how, despite the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1990, it took a decade before health tech companies began adopting it. In 2000, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated that “between 44,000 and 98,000 hospitalized Americans die each year as a result of preventable medical errors.” This inspired the White House in 2004 to push for a plan to make computerized Electronic Health Records accessible to every American citizen.

In 2009, President Obama boosted the cause for EHRs when he signed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. By 2015, close to 96% of American hospitals had adopted EHRs as part of their health tech. However, a new problem arose, one of interoperability. Almost none of these health providers shared or exchanged their data, or had the necessary tech to do so. They were all stored in different formats, and a patient traveling between different providers found themselves with medical data they couldn’t access easily.

Around the same time, another monumental milestone had been achieved in the sequencing of the human genome. The success of the Human Genome Project (HGP) led to the rise of precision medicine in 2015, and the use of genomic data to improve chronic disease treatment. By 2020, the advent of wearable health tech created a vast trove of medical data that made personalized medicine a reality. It couldn’t have been a better time for the advent of generative AI.

AI – The critical link between health and tech

AI has already begun a revolution in healthcare tech, from EHR modernization using real-time analytics to enabling predictive analytics to rapidly discover new cures and streamline operations based on accurate forecasts. With this integration of AI, healthtech has forever changed, with the kind of quality and personalized care afforded to each individual that would have been impossible a decade prior.

AI in decision support systems in hospitals have also helped allay concerns around the increasing burden of bureaucratic paperwork for the healthcare workforce, helping sort all kinds of unorganized data to bring the right insights and forecasts to help a care facility stay on top of things.

The future of healthtech

It isn’t hard to predict the immediate future of healthcare and healthtech. The age of big data will lead to the rise of Health Information Exchanges and a medical data economy. In such a paradigm, a patient’s medical data is valuable to a care provider to help them come up with an optimized and personalized treatment plan, but also helps improve their predictive models and datasets. Patients will only go to a care facility for serious interventions like surgeries as we move towards a more preventive form of healthcare.

With remote patient monitoring and real-time health data from wearable trackers, providers will be able to monitor patients and improve their health with the right interventions and plans. Patients will also participate more actively in their own treatment, through diet plans, self-monitoring and changes in lifestyle choices. This will alter the very nature of the patient-provider relationship, as they both actively communicate and participate to attain the best health outcomes.


Throughout history, and especially in the medical field, we stand on the shoulders of giants to enjoy the quality of care we are able to afford today. AI makes waves only because it has been trained on generations of research and medical data.

The integration of health and technology has managed to make the impossible almost possible – it has truly managed to ensure that every citizen can enjoy their inalienable right to health and healthcare to live a dignified life. As long as we continue to navigate the new complexities that new technology can bring up, healthcare will continue to progress and give us the quality of life we write sci-fi about.

About us:

Reveal HealthTech is at the forefront of the health tech revolution. With specialized expertise in healthcare management and AI, we provide custom engineering, clinical model, and strategy support to healthcare providers, digital health organizations and the overall healthcare ecosystem.