Healthcare chronology 1955 - 1972

1955
IBM machines provide the number crunching muscle for Dr. Jonas Salk's polio research and Polio Surveillance Unit. As a statistical exercise, the polio field trial was unique in the annals of epidemiological study. Francis and his staff at the University of Michigan produce some 1,800,000 IBM punch cards containing 144,000,000 pieces of information about the test children. Salk credits IBM for cutting months, even years off the search for an effective polio vaccine. This vaccine led to the eradication of polio in the United States and the majority of the world.

An IBM installation at the Chemical-Biological Coordination Center of the National Research Council in Washington D.C. provides scientists with access to what is perhaps the greatest amount of coded information concerning biochemistry in the world. Information on more than 50,000 compounds is recorded there on 1,500,000 punched cards. Each card can contain as many as 1,100 specific data about the chemical, physical, and biological properties of a compound. The CBCC - which is supported by the American Cancer Society, Army, Navy, Atomic Energy Commission and the National Cancer Institute - assembles, organizes and dispenses to any qualified scientist information on compounds and their biological activity.

1959
IBM sponsors the first symposium on the use of computers in medical research.

The application of electronic information retrieval systems to medical recordkeeping is discussed at a meeting co-sponsored by the University of Southern California School of Medicine and IBM.

In many hospitals across the nation IBM electric typewriters and card punches are used to help disabled people develop coordination, balance, and data processing job skills. One of the foremost rehabilitation centers, the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of New York University-Bellevue Medical Center, establishes a full program of training for disabled persons where much of the institute's recordkeeping is done by patients. Perhaps the institute's best-known patient is Roy Campanella, former Brooklyn Dodger star who was injured in an automobile accident. During his year of rehabilitation Campanella included typing as part of his recovery regimen.

1961
The use of computers in medical research increases, as scientists from the Mayo Clinic, The Johns Hopkins University, and the National Institutes of Health among others, use IBM equipment for such things as: analysis of heart sounds for abnormalities (IBM 704); identification of correlations between palm patterns and inheritable diseases (IBM 650); and the study thousands of families for evidence genetic transmission (IBM 704).

1962
The Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio and IBM announce a joint study to explore the development of advanced systems for handling information traffic in hospitals.

The Greenville General Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, becomes the first hospital in the nation to install teleprocessing equipment for transmitting administrative data from service department to account office. An IBM 1001 data transmission device- essentially a modem for punched cards- is a key component of the system.

1963
UCLA dedicates nation's largest medical computing center. The center features IBM 7094, IBM 1410, IBM 1301, IBM 729, IBM 7155, IBM 1401, and IBM 1009 systems.

The Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in the Texas Medical Center in Houston employs IBM 7094, 1401 and 1620 computers to build a revolutionary system of medical treatment, research, education and hospital management. TIRR specializes in rehabilitating patients with severe physical limitations such as those paralyzed by disease or accident, and the system, called “medical humanetics", isolates specific medical facts from the ever-mounting volume of medical data created through medical research and applies them to the treatment of patients. This totally new approach to treatment and rehabilitation of victims of crippling disease and injury has slashed long-term stays at TIRR by one-third to one-half.

An 18-year statistical profile of cancer in El Paso County, Texas is completed at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. The profile is compiled using IBM 1710 and 1401 systems.

1965
The University of Oklahoma Medical Center unveils the nation's first computerized medical school course. The curriculum utilizes IBM's 1401 and 1050 systems.

1966
IBM introduces the IBM 2990, the world's first continuous-flow apheresis machine. But, it was a bittersweet moment for IBM's George Judson, the father of the 2990. Judson, whose son Tom was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962, started working that year with the National Cancer Institute to design and build a device to automate a slow, labor intensive leukemia treatment - the removal of cancerous leukocytes (white blood cells) from the patient. He spent the next several years refining his apheresis prototypes, and the 2990 was the culmination of that effort. Since its introduction, the apheresis process has saved thousands of lives- but it came too late to save Tom, who succumbed to his disease in 1964.

1967
Nine Milwaukee hospitals launch a cooperative program to share a central computer facility and service established and operated by the Wisconsin Blue Cross Plan. The facility features an IBM System/360 Model 40.

1968
Dr. Robert S. Ledley, who received a National Medal of Technology in 1997, uses an IBM System/360 Model 44 at his National Biomedical Research Foundation for chromosomal analysis to speed research in hereditary diseases. Ledley, the inventor of CAT scan technology, was a pioneering advocate of the use of computers in biomedical research.

1969
An IBM System/360 Model 91 computer at the UCLA Medical Center helps doctors match organ donors with desperately ill patients in five western states. The program receives a U.S. Public Health Service grant to extend it to other areas of the U.S. and to track post-transplant results so that doctors can learn how to improve the success rate for organ transplants.

1970
Penn State University uses an IBM System/360 Model 67 to research the health effects of air pollution. The information generated by the computer serves as the basis of reports from the National Institute of Health and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, as part of the government's efforts to establish pollution regulation standards.

1972
A rural Missouri general practitioner connects to an IBM System/360 Model 50 computer located 130 miles away at the University of Missouri in Columbia to improve the care his office provides to patients. The doctor uses telephone lines to send and receive patient healthcare information, including test results and medical histories.


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