Game Changers: Important Medical Innovations Over the Past 30 Years

Medical Innovations

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Game Changers: Important Medical Innovations Over the Past 30 Years

Thanks to advances in technology, the pace of medical innovations has been rapid in the past three decades. Let’s take a look at five of the most game-changing and life-saving medical innovations from the past 30 years.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

The use of shared medical records via electronic filing systems has skyrocketed over the past decade. Now, doctors and hospitals can pull up a patient’s medical history immediately, including current prescriptions, past surgeries, and pre-existing conditions. (1)

EHR use then and now (1)

2005: 18%

2015: 80%

Electronic Health Records… (1)

…reduce costs for both patients and providers.

…allow providers to deliver more personalized care to patients.

…help prevent medical mistakes like misdiagnoses.

…make it easier for pharmacies to stay connected regarding prescriptions.

HIV Combined Drug Therapy

1.2 million

Number of Americans living with HIV (3)

1 in 8 Americans with HIV don’t know they’re infected. (3)

In the 80s and early 90s, an HIV diagnosis meant a person would most likely develop AIDS and die from the disease within mere months. Then, in 1995, antiretroviral therapy (ART) was introduced and the mortality rate from illnesses due to HIV dropped 83%. (1)

Today, HIV combined drug therapies give those diagnosed the hope of surviving 50 years or more with proper care. (1)

Minimally Invasive Surgeries

Decades ago, even biopsies were considered invasive surgeries that required long hospital stays and recovery times. In 1994, however, modern robotics were introduce into the operating room. Today, many surgeries have become minimally invasive, sometimes only requiring local anesthetic and same-day patient release. (1)

Patients often have a choice of different types of surgeries, including robotic or endoscopic (non-robotic) procedures. Surgeries that have transformed into minimally invasive procedures include: (4)

Hernia fixes

Gastric bypass

Gynecological cancer treatments

Prostate cancer treatments

Kidney stone removals

Spinal trauma corrections

Some tumor removals

Benefits of minimally invasive surgeries (4)

Smaller incisions

Less pain

Lower infection risks

Shorter hospital stays

Quicker recovery times

Less scarring

Reduced blood loss

Needle-Free Injection Technology (NFIT)

Hypodermic syringes were invented in 1853. In the 1940s and 1950s, a need for a more sterile alternative was realized. Needle-free, air-powered injectors were then developed, though only recently perfected by companies like PharmaJet. (1)

Shortcomings of hypodermic needles(5)

Needle stick injuries

High costs

No reusability

Patient needle phobias

Patient cross-contamination

Qualities of needle-free injectors(1)

Works by using spring systems or laser pulses to quickly inject medicine through skin

An auto-disabling syringe prevents cross-contamination

There are no external power sources or gas cartridges

Eliminates needle sticks in healthcare environments


Nanotechnology has been a booming industry in the last decade. Recently, it was discovered that a nanostructured material created in the 1990s at MIT could be used to stop bleeding. (2)

How it works (6)

Patient is bleeding, internally or externally.

The nanohealing liquid—a clear, gel-like substance—is poured over the affected area.

The liquid, a synthetic peptide, forms fibers that act as a physical barrier over bleeding vessels.

The liquid works immediately and is broken down naturally by the body at a later time, so no removal is needed.

Whom this helps (6)


Surgeons and surgical nurses

OB nurses and doctors

Trauma center nurses

Military doctors

Animal rescues

Medical Innovations