THE BLOG
08/07/2014 12:16 pm ET Updated Oct 07, 2014

Technology Today Is More Therapeutic Than Diagnostic


In the medical device industry, there are basically two types of medical devices -- ones that are diagnostic, and ones that are therapeutic. As the names suggest, diagnostic devices do little more than make measurements, such as pressure, flow, and heart rate. Therapeutic devices, on the other hand, actually treat issues in an effort to cure a patient of what's ailing them. An example of a therapeutic device would be a heart valve that's implanted into a patient's heart to replace a damaged valve. So what do medical device terms have to do with technology? Technology as a whole has changed from being diagnostic, to being therapeutic today.

The drive that evolves technology is based on the old saying that "necessity is the mother of invention." Human beings will typically make something as an answer to something that is lacking; a hammer to drive nails, a saw to cut wood, or a Bluetooth keyboard to making tablet typing easier.

But in the early days, many of the existing technologies were only capable of providing diagnostics -- alarms and warnings, beeps and chimes, indicators, and timers. Technology allowed us to see farther, to be warned of problems before they become catastrophes, and to remind us of important events. It seemed we were happy with the role that tech had in our lives because it was designed mainly to help us, versus solving our problems. We had Palm Pilots that worked as digital assistants, desktop computers for calculating and sending messages, and newfangled telephones that didn't require wires.

But today's tech has become the "internet of things;" extreme connectivity that enables everything from washing machines to home security systems to be accessible via the 'net. Tech today is answering the question of "how do we solve problems?" where in the past its role was merely to help us in finding the answers ourselves. Tech has become less "measuring stick" and more "hammer and chisel." Through tech evolution, we are now finding new ways to leverage what we know into effective solutions.

Advancements in internet software are now enabling previously dumb devices to become a part of the connected world. This, along with miniaturization, has allowed devices as small as simple key-chains to be traceable with an app, or dog collars to allow Fido to send out a tweet to the world. Technology can now stop us from rear-ending the car in front of us, allow a doctor to monitor our heart rate through their cellphone, and even protect us from food borne illnesses.

Sure, tech also has a downside -- like hackers who steal your personal info, or websites that dig deeply into your privacy. But the same technology that enables the bad, eventually enables the good. It's a vicious cycle that emulates real life.

It's up to today's programmers, developers, inventors and technologists to steer the direction of therapeutic technology. They can develop tech for the good of society, or they can hack tech for their own selfish goals. Maybe it has always been this way. The power of today's tech has become a double-edged sword... wielded mostly by [ugh] millennials.

... But that's another story.