"I think the biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology" – Steve Jobs, as told to Walter Isaacson.
In 2001, Dr. Jacques Marescaux surgically removed the gall bladder of a 68 year old woman. While thousands of these procedures are done on a daily basis, the reason this particular surgery stands out is because the surgeon was in New York, while the patient was in France. Separated by a distance of thousands of miles, this robot-assisted 'tele-surgery' was made possible using dedicated Asynchronous Transfer Mode ("ATM") telecommunication technology, which provided minimum response time between the surgeon and the robot.
At a time when such activities were not even anticipated, the United States Food and Drug Administration ("USFDA") took a very conservative approach while granting approvals for the procedure. To minimize liabilities and ambiguities, the USFDA allowed the surgery to be performed by French surgeons on a French patient while the French government was to take all the responsibilities. The whole procedure cost a whopping $11 million, but served the purpose of demonstrating to the world the potential of the amalgamation of healthcare and technology.
The world has come a long way since then, with the development of information technology culminating to a phase where such innovative procedures are steadily gaining acceptance. Healthcare technology is pushing boundaries, broadening its scope every day and with it, the opportunities. From heart rate monitors built into watches to glucose monitors integrated into contact lenses, the healthcare industry is heading into some interesting and revolutionary times.
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