The science of forecasting medical technology is lousy. We hear so many pundits predicting the next revolutionary medical technology advancement that it is literally impossible to keep track of them all. It is not news that many of these predictions never come to pass. Nonetheless, amazing technology advances do occur and change medicine forever.
Just look back 80 years when hospital wards housed dozens of monstrous-looking devices called iron lungs. These life-saving devices treated people who were unable to breathe because of paralyzed chest muscles. Today, we don’t see hospitals with huge wards filled with iron lungs anymore. Who made that technology disappear? Certainly not the iron lung manufacturers. It wasn’t even a hardware technology innovation that changed patient care. It was a biologic—the polio vaccine—that changed the future of the hospital from treating dozens of polio cases to almost none. Who could have seen that coming?