Top 5: Historical Healthcare Milestones in Australia

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Despite a reputation generally for laid-back attitudes and an affinity for being outside, deep in dark labs and facilities across the world Australians have made their mark on worldwide healthcare.

Check out a list of 5 Australian historic healthcare milestones:

1926 - Electronic Pacemaker

One of the most vital pieces of life-prolonging technology, the electronic heart pacemaker, was invented by Dr Mark Lidwell. He incredibly saved a newborn baby’s life by connecting its failing heart to electrodes to stimulate it with electric pulses. However, he never courted fame and fortune, fearing that if he patented the device his ethical concerns with prolonging life artificially would get the better of him.

1939 - Penicillin

Along with a colleague Howard Florey was bestowed with a 1945 Nobel Prize for his work on Penicillin. Particularly their efforts in 1939 marked the first time a process was invented for mass production of the drug, therefore paving the way eventually for mass public access.

1962 - Ultrasound

Despite a similar process and technology being used previously, the Australian version of “grey-scale” ultrasound became the first commercially available option for the public. Just a year earlier, David Robinson and George Kossoff had toiled away to build the ultrasound scanner at the Commonwealth Ultrasonics Institute in Sydney.

1978 - Cochlear Implant

ENT Surgeon Dr Graeme Clark changed lives across the globe when he created the multiple electrode Cochlear implant device, operating and surgically implanting for the first time on a patient in 1978. He had been working on this success since the 1960s, inspired by his deaf father.

1999 - Anti-flu Medication

The severity of influenza can be debilitating, yet it was not until almost the turn of the century that an effective drug was developed. Relenza was the result of some serious brain-power, research and testing by Australian scientists over 20 years, winning the Nobel Prize and fighting a potential killer for hundreds of millions, if not billions, across the globe.

And a bonus milestone…

1929 - 1st Technology-enabled remote consult

Today telehealth is increasingly adopted in Australia, with the preferred method over video-consult, but some services offering an online consult without even video. However, we have to go back to the year of the Great Depression to mark the first ever remote consult; the newly-invented pedal-powered radio was deployed by the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctors Service) to give people in remote areas access to emergency medical services and advice.

Are you aware of any milestones that top these? Or have a topic you would like Doctology to cover? Get in touch by email at today.