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by Claire Delplancq
Published on 5 September 2017

At Cerner, we believe that health care is too important to stay the same - without research, innovations and discoveries modern medicine wouldn't be where it is today. People will always rely on healthcare, it is the one service we will all need at some point in our lives, and patient outcomes have improved significantly over the past centuries.

Information Technology may be Cerner's expertise but our associates are also healthcare experts. Understanding the industry, the processes, the outcomes, the areas of improvements but also the history, is essential. You will find below a selection of 5 of the most important medical advancements, some are big, some may seem small, but all help patients be healthier and to empower them to be in control of their own health.

#5 Blood transfusion

Blood transfusion is the process of giving and receiving blood. Commonly it is being used following an incident where an individual has lost a lot of blood. It is also used to treat conditions such as sickle cell disease. The first successful blood transfusion involving a person was done by Jean-Baptiste Denys, in 1667, between a 15-year old boy and a sheep.

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#4 Organ transplantation

The first successful human organ transplantation, a thyroid transplant, took place in 1883 and was performed by Nobel laureate Theodor Kocher. The procedure in which an organ is removed from a donor and placed in a recipient body has saved thousands of lives over the past 134 years. More recently, organ transplantation hit a significant milestone with the first double hand transplant on a child, taking place in the US, in 2015.

#3 Contraceptive pill

The pill has allowed women to be empowered to choose when to get pregnant for more than 50 years. It gives them the choice to have a baby at the most suitable time in their life, depending on their situation, age and other social & biological factors. The first contraceptive pill was created by Gregory Goodwin Picus and John Rock, in 1955, but it only became publicly available in most western countries in the sixties. At the moment, this method of contraception is only available for women, but men's options are being clinically tested.

#2 Vaccination

Vaccination is a surprisingly ancient practice, the earliest records go back to the 17th century in China and India. Smallpox was one of the first diseases treated with vaccination and it has now been completely eradicated, thanks to vaccination. Vaccination works by training the immune system to fight infection by injecting an infectious agent in the body. Over the years it has helped manage highly infectious and dangerous diseases such as rabies, polio and tuberculosis.

#1 Antibiotics

The first antibiotic was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington where Cerner UK is based today. A real-life saver, antibiotics can help cure a simple ear infection or the deadly sepsis. The antimicrobial drug can prevent and treat bacterial infections, it works by either preventing the bacteria to multiply or simply by killing the bacteria by interfering with its wall and cell content.

Special mention - Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice originating from India and China, where individuals train their mind to be more conscious. By training one's brain to focus on the ‘now’, people increase their sense of well-being and ‘mindfulness’. Far from being a trend, meditation has been proven to help patients manage their health. Meditation helps with conditions like anxiety, depression, pain management, weight loss and more. Mindfulness has proven to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, and people practicing meditation are happier and take fewer sick-days.

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