Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Health Care in 1994 (1973)

Chapter two of the 1973 book 1994: The World of Tomorrow outlines health care predictions for the future:

From time to time, headlines announce the startling new developments in the field of medicine such as: freezing people after death so that they can be revived one hundred years later; and creating "mechanical" men full of artificial replacements. Since few serious prognosticators believe that any of these "medical wonders" will actually occur in the near future, let's take a look at what we can realistically expect to see in 1994:

- The practice of medicine directed toward the prevention, rather than the treatment, of infectious diseases.
- Health insurance for every American.
- Vaccinations to immunize children against rheumatic fever.
- The control, perhaps the prevention, of hypertension by new drugs and chemicals.
- Intensive coronary care units in all hospitals for the treatment of acutely ill patients. (The American Heart Association estimates that such facilities could save some 50,000 heart patients who now die each year.)
- Detection and removal of blood clots before they produce damage from heart attack or stroke.
- Vaccines to prevent the venereal diseases of gonorrhea and syphilis.
- A vaccine to prevent tooth decay.
- Routine lung and liver transplants.
- More sophisticated drug treatment for epilepsy.
- "Medical cities," resembling sprawling shopping centers, consisting of high-rise hospital buildings surrounded by parking areas and garages.
- Most doctors employed full time at medical center complexes, and more physicians trained as specialists.
- Development of drugs for the successful treatment of some cancers.

The prediction of universal health insurance for Americans is obviously the most politically contentious issue on the list. I wonder what kind of support the idea had in 1973 compared with today.

See also:
1994: The World of Tomorrow (1973)


Anonymous said...

The predictions in this post are the most accurate I have seen so far. Many of these are actually spot on.
In particular, I like the the "frequent transplants", I've forgotten that transplants were just beginning in 1974 and still controversial.


Anonymous said...

This one is pretty close, particularly the medical centers one. Lance is right, it is amazing just how routine transplants have become. We still don't just walk in and buy them at the corner store, but on the other hand, replacment knees are now advertised on TV, complete with sports hero spokesmen (Jack Nicholas).

I love this blog, by the way. I can't stop reading it even though I'm at work.

Anonymous said...

These predictions were still too optimistic, even 30+ years on. Particularly in the field of vaccinations, very few new vaccines have been developed over the past 30 years. Not for rheumatic fever, syphilis, or gonorrhea, and certainly not tooth decay.

I'm not sure why the authors predict these vaccines to be available, and yet say that the treatment of infectious diseases will turn towards prevention. We've kind of gotten to that point by default, as pharmaceutical companies have realized that vaccine development is a huge money sink with often little reward. SmithKlineBeecham was bit in the ass by this: they pushed their Lymerix vaccine for Lyme disease to market hoping to score a big profit, however the vaccine was withdrawn after only a few years as it was determined to not only be fairly ineffective, but also to trigger the symptoms of the disease in some patients.