The 19th century poet Emily Dickinson was reclusive to the point that she would allow a doctor to examine her only from a distance of several feet as she walked past an open door. If she were alive today, it’s likely that she would benefit from advances in medical imaging that could accommodate her standoffishness while still diagnosing the Bright’s disease that ended her life at age 55.

One example of our technologically enabled future is a bathroom mirror with a retinal scanner behind the glass that looks for retinopathy or collects vital signs. In the case of Dickinson, that mirror could have noticed a gradual increase in the puffiness of her face, a symptom of Bright’s disease, and alerted her physician.

This technology also could be a viable way to improve care for patients who are too busy to schedule routine doctor visits. For Iatrophobics—whose fear of doctors has them putting off regular checkups—advances in medical imaging enable a wide variety of noninvasive diagnostic options.

For health care providers and their patients, these and other advances in medical technology make health care increasingly personal in terms of managing chronic diseases, predicting catastrophic ones and enabling patients to live out their final months or years in the comfort of their homes. These advances also allow health care to become a routine part of daily life.