Spotlight Health

Life expectancy in the United States is radically longer now compared to a hundred years ago. Researcher Laura Carstensen studies what life is like during our later years. She’s Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, and spoke with Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher about exploring what we can do with longer lives.

This is Spotlight Health on Aspen Public Radio.

This is the first episode in our series on critical health issues.

Today we’ll check in with the world of prosthetics and light therapy, and how medical technology is changing.

We’ll also examine why healthcare is so expensive in the United States, even though the quality of care isn’t always that great.

That’s this hour on Spotlight Health.

Guests: Krista Donaldson, CEO D-Rev & Elizabeth Bradley, Director of the Yale Global Health Initiative.

New medical technology is a growing part of improving health care across the globe. Krista Donaldson is part of an effort to make tools, like prosthetic knees, affordable and effective. Her San Francisco nonprofit, called D-Rev, is working to improve accessibility for people in places like India. 

A Conversation with the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Jun 27, 2014

Spotlight: Health Closing Session – A Conversation with the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius was the 21st United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. She served from 2009-2014.  Sebelius resigned her post as President Obama’s head of HHS in April 2014. She was the key person involved in implementing health care reforms under the “Affordable Care Act” aka “Obamacare”. Sebelius had previously served as Governor of Kansas (2003-2009).

Kathleen Sebelius, Walter Isaacson

How Do We Nourish Nine Billion People?

Jun 26, 2014

How Do We Nourish Nine Billion People?

About half the world’s population suffers from some form of malnutrition – 2 billion people are undernourished, 1.4 billion are overweight or obese, and 800 million are hungry – and as climate change advances, the threats will likely worsen. In the US, cutbacks in the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program mean some Americans run out food every month. Lacking the right nutrients to grow and thrive, billions around the globe cannot rise from poverty. What food and nutrition priorities should the international community set as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals expire? What is the blueprint for strengthening access to nutritious foods and sustainable agriculture? What is the role for the private sector?

Josh Lozman, Ronald Shaich, Marc Van Ameringen, Dan Glickman, Toni Verstandig, Derek Yach

How Can We Die With Dignity?

Jun 26, 2014

How Can We Die With Dignity?

The hospice movement and other cultural and system-wide innovations in palliative care have been welcome strategies for easing the dying experience, but many people still do not have their final wishes respected. If we are to guide patients and families through life’s final stage with dignity, we need to have wiser conversations, better services, and a clearer ethical framework. What is it like to be present with people as they approach death? What roles can the young and the healthy play? What investments do we need to make to smooth the passage away from the living?

Arthur Leonard Caplan, Ai-jen Poo, Akaya Windwood, Ray Suarez

Can Congress Come Together to Build a Healthier Nation?

There's much more to health politics than the Affordable Care Act. Along with remarkable new advances in medicine by 2024, we will see Baby Boomers swamping the health care system, more veterans needing services, and the impact of climate change becoming ever more apparent. Leaders from both political parties in both houses of Congress should be shaping the vision, negotiating the legislation and committing the funding to improve the nation’s health. What can Congress do to promote better health for more Americans? How can our elected officials reach consensus?

William Frist, Thomas Daschle, Julie Rovner, Mickey Edwards

Personalized Medicine: The Future is Now

Jun 25, 2014

Personalized Medicine: The Future is Now

Personalized medicine is upending hierarchies with consumer products like Scanadu, designed to track physiological signals, and, which provides raw genetic data. Meanwhile, our exploding knowledge means treatments can increasingly be custom-tailored — the genetic characteristics of a tumor can predict the most effective drug to fight it; a medical image can reveal which artery-opening device will be most effective for a particular individual. How does personalized medicine change the way medicine is practiced? Is it possible to know too much? Does the US need a new regulatory framework for this unprecedented era?

Women’s Health: The Unfinished Revolution

Jun 25, 2014

Women’s Health: The Unfinished Revolution

The phrase “women’s health” slips off the tongues of clinicians, public health experts, community advocates and legislators with ease, but the ideological battles of the past three decades have clouded this once-useful term. Reproductive health services and access to family planning promote health and combat poverty, but they do not represent the sum of women’s health needs or rights. Women also differ from men in how they develop, age, and respond to treatment, yet the science of their unique characteristics is alarmingly incomplete. What is “women’s health” really about, and how we do re-imagine its future?

Jane Otai, Sisonke Msimang, Courtney E. Martin, Betty King

THE ASPEN LECTURE When Experts Disagree: The Art of Medical Decision-Making

Despite medical advances and the application of scientific principles to modern medicine, there seems to be increasing controversy about the “right” diagnostic and treatment choices, even for very common medical issues – such as how best to treat high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, whether to take vitamins, especially vitamin D, and who should be screened for cancer with mammograms and PSA. And the debate is very public, fomenting confusion with almost daily stories in the media. Why are experts disagreeing? Why isn't there a clear “right” answer? And what support do patients need to make decisions in the face of such controversy?

Jerome Groopman, Pamela Hartzband

Colorado's "Right to Try" Law: A Lifeline or False Hope?

Colorado’s new “right-to-try” law, signed in May, allows terminally ill patients access to investigational drugs without federal approval. Similar legislation is being considered in other states. Supporters call it a ray of hope for people with few alternatives, while skeptics argue that the hopes could be false and the suffering worsened. The US Food and Drug Administration already has compassionate-use mechanisms in place, but action at the state level is a first. What are the clinical and ethical implications of Colorado’s action? Are states usurping federal authority? What are the rights of dying people here?

Elliot Gerson, Joe Garcia, Diane E. Meier

Good afternoon, you’re listening to Spotlight Health, on Aspen Public Radio.

This is our final episode in our series on critical health issues.

Today we’ll hear about a program to get more humanities students to become doctors, even if they major in, say philosophy.

“And then come to medical school without having had to take many of the traditional science requirements, and without having to take the MCAT.”

That’s the Medical College Admission Test, for all of you who’ve avoided the rigors usually required to become a doctor.

And those more well-rounded physicians could end up working in what Doctor Kenneth Davis calls the hospital of the future

“The providers of health care have no choice but to change. What we have to ask ourselves is with those changes, will we be improving access, and will we be improving quality.”

That’s this hour, on Spotlight Health.

Good afternoon, you’re listening to Spotlight Health, on Aspen Public Radio. This is the fifth episode in our series on key health issues.

Today we’ll hear about ways technology is making it easier for people to live their lives. That includes prosthetics and robotics. Think of one of those really cool science terms you learned back in grade school or middle school. Exosekelton! A Roaring Fork Valley resident is using one to start moving again.

And the ever expanding field of 3-D printing could make that even more effective.

That’s this hour on Spotlight Health.

Amanda Boxtel, Bridging Bionics Foundation

Many people already use prosthetics to get around; now robotics is becoming another way to help people move. It’s already the case for a Basalt resident, Amanda Boxtel, who’s been paralyzed below her pelvis for decades. Boxtel is Executive Director of the Bridging Bionics Foundation. She says it’s been important to her to aim for the best quality of life possible. She talks with APR’s Elise Thatcher.

Living with a missing limb is difficult, especially if keeps someone from working or taking care of their family. Krista Donaldson is CEO of D-Rev, a nonprofit that designs technology to help with certain problems in developing countries. Donaldson is working on a prosthetic knee that’s affordable and reliable. 

Stanford University School of Medicine

Research around mouse blood has been making the rounds in the news media lately. It even got a moment on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me earlier this month. Scientist and neurology professor Tom Rando is a key player in that research. He’s Director of the Glenn Laboratories for the Biology of Aging at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Rando spoke with APR’s Elise Thatcher, and says the blood research has taken nearly a decade.

Aspen Institute

There’s a big push to get kids more physically active, but some kids are already playing sports regularly-- maybe even too often. As part of our spring series on key health issues, Tom Farrey talks with APR’s Elise Thatcher. He writes for ESPN and directs the Sports and Society program at the Aspen Institute. Farrey says there’s growing concern about kids overdoing it.

APR Special: Spotlight Health, Show #4

May 27, 2014

Good afternoon, you’re listening to Spotlight Health, on Aspen Public Radio.

I’m Elise Thatcher, and this is the fourth in our series on critical health issues.

We’re going to explore the state of health and sports these days especially kids’ athletics.

“We put kids in uniform at age three, we got adults screaming on the sidelines at age six, and we create the travel teams at seven and eight…”

We’ll also get the details on research about staying young… using younger blood. You may have already heard about it.

“This research, may suggest that Bram Stoker had ideas ahead of his time.

That was a medical professor named Andrew Randall commenting on the shocking news on what may make us all live forever. Drinking blood?

It doesn’t actually involve children’s blood… but we’ll let our guest explain.

That’s this hour on Spotlight Health.

Brent James/ Institute for Health Care Delivery Research

The Affordable Care Act has changed a lot for doctors and other medical professionals. There are new insurance requirements, potentially lots more patients and the logistics of switching to digital medical records. Doctor Brent James is right in the middle of all of this, fine tuning the answer to an age old problem: how do you take care of patients in a way that’s really effective, but not overwhelmingly expensive? Dr. James is Executive Director of the Institute for Health Care Delivery Research in Salt Lake City. As part of our spring series on key health issues, James talks with APR’s Elise Thatcher.

Good afternoon, this is Spotlight Health, on Aspen Public Radio. This is the third of six episodes in our series on key health issues.

Today we’ll untangle why seeing a doctor can be so confusing...

“Despite all the medical advances, there seems to be increasing controversy about what is the right thing to do, even about your most common conditions.”

We’ll hear one solution for making that whole treatment experience cheaper and more effective, too.

“We estimate that we’re taking at least $400 million per year out of Intermountain’s cost of operation, through better care.

Coming up today on Spotlight Health.

Episode 3 of 6 in a series to explore key health issues with guests also participating in the Aspen Ideas Festival Spotlight: Health programming this summer.