The modern healthcare industry is one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world, but it was actually a fairly underdeveloped field until the 19th century. It has only reached the level it is at today thanks to the genius of a few key individuals who helped lead the revolution in health innovation.
From Arthur C. Clarke, sci-fi author and futurist, to Edward Jenner, inventor of the smallpox vaccine, here are 5 of the top contributors to modern healthcare’s success.
Despite being best known for his seemingly outlandish science fiction works, British author Arthur C. Clark was an accomplished student of physics and mathematics, and his predictions of future technologies actually helped shaped the notion of many inventions. He is famous for his suggestion in 1945 that space stations that maintain a geostationary orbit above the Earth would allow for a worldwide communications network.
Remember, this is 1945 – televisions are not even in widespread usage and Sputnik is still twelve years away from igniting the space race. Later, in 1964, Clarke remarked to a BBC program that doctors may one day utilize wireless communication to operate on patients via remotely controlled robots. This has since become a reality, and allowed the world’s best surgeons to provide much-needed surgeries around the world.
The partnership of Henry Heimlich, the namesake of the world-famous Heimlich manuever, and Paul Winchell, a famous American ventriloquist, seemed very unlikely, but Winchell’s innate interest in the medical field helped spur their joint invention of the world’s first mechanical heart. Following their introduction at a dinner party, Winchell wondered aloud to Heimlich if an artificial heart could be used to temporarily keep patients alive during crucial heart surgery and while they wait for heart transplants and Heimlich immediately recognized the genius of Winchell’s idea. Within a few years they had the first patent for the artificial heart which has since saved countless lives.