Topic.3 | Digital Health
Topic | Digital Health

The History of Digital Health

Chapter 02/07


Medicine and technology have always been closely intertwined. As we invent and discover new tools and technology, we naturally apply them to health and medicine. Often, we even pursue advances in technology in order to improve health. As digital technology has advanced, scientists and researchers have been quick to apply those advances to medicine.

Key Terms:

  • Nikola Tesla
  • George Devol
  • Steven Sasson
  • 3D printing
  • PUMA 560
  • Telesurgery
  • Nanoprocessor
  • Neural dust
  • Smart pill

How is it that in 2019 we’re able to implant neural dust, give people smart pills in lieu of endoscopies and carry an EKG in our pocket?

Not so long ago, few people had cell phones, loading a web page could take several minutes and the only way to make a reservation or appointment was to use a phone. Unless you work in a medical or health care profession, you may be unaware how technological advances have propelled medicine forward throughout modern history. From the invention of the compound microscope in 1590 with to the widespread access to WiFi in the early 2000s, technology has contributed to medical advances—and there’s even more to look forward to.

Explore the Interactive Timeline

Timeline: Smart Medicine Through History

The intertwined histories oftechnology and medicine

  • Interact with an entry to learn more and see what events relate to it.

    A compound microscope.


    Compound microscope

  • Voltaic Piles.


    First true battery

  • 19th Century microscope.


    Reliable microscopes

  • Satellite dish.


    Radio wave transmission

  • Satellite dish.


    Medical batteries

  • 1895

    Discovery of X-rays

  • X-ray image of hand.


    Surgical use of X-rays

  • Nikola tesla demonstrates his boat. Vintage Illustration.


    Remote control using radio waves

  • 1921

    Surgical microscope

  • pacemaker.


    First pacemaker

  • Early robotic arm - Image Credit Estate of George Devol.


    First industrial robot

  • Early CT Scanner.


    First CT Scan

  • Processing a digital image from the first digital camera. Image credit: Eastman-Kodak.


    Digital camera

  • Raymond Damadian with MRI Machine.


    MRI scanner

  • 3d Printer in a classroom.


    3D printer

  • 1985

    Surgical robot

  • 2001


  • 2001

    First telesurgery

  • Human eye.


    Bionic eye

  • 2011

    Programmable Nanoprocessor

  • Composite Skull animation.


    First skull transplant

  • Composite Skull animation.


    Balloon Wifi

  • Small modern pacemaker.


    Smallest Pacemaker

  • 2016

    Neural Dust

  • Spherical Camera.


    360-Degree Cameras

  • 2017

    Smart pills

  • 2019

    Quantum Leap

  • 2020 and beyond

    AI, big data and robotics

What comes next?

Beyond the advances listed here, the integration of AI, big data and wireless devices into the medical field will mean higher-quality data, better outcomes and progress at an unprecedented rate—and it’s only speeding up from here.

Next Section

The Technologies Behind Digital Health

Chapter 03 of 07

Learn about the remarkable technologies that are making the digital health revolution possible.