Patents and Patients
A merican health-care costs are growing more slowly than in the early 2000s, but we still spend twice as much per person—and a much bigger chunk of our gross national product—than other major industrialized countries. Technology is a big driver, as indicated by the fact that costs for hospital and specialized care are rising faster than other sectors. But despite our having access to the world’s best technology, Americans’ life expectancy is still a couple of years shorter than Western Europeans’. Biomedical engineers have taken notice.
Among the start-up companies where so many new technologies find their pathway into the marketplace, quite a few are now testing devices and systems designed to save costs as well as lives. This month’s cover story offers some examples. Zhen Gu, of the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State, has developed a Smart Patch that promises better diabetes management. In the area of drug testing, a Florida firm called Hesperos has created a body-on-a-chip that replicates as many as six human organs on one palm-size device, which might render costly animal studies unnecessary.
A monthly publication can never expect to stay on top of the news, but this issue, with three stories on medicine and health care, comes pretty close. As the October Prism was wrapping up, members of the U.S. Senate were rounding up votes in the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Besides the cover story, you’ll find interesting reporting in our piece on the early days of Pittsburgh start-up Cohera Medical, and Tom Grose’s feature on the quest for new antibiotics.
And don’t miss Mary Lord’s delightful teaching toolbox feature on how candy can stimulate learning and enliven the engineering classroom.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Prism. Please send us your comments.