KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Longer Looks: The Politics of Face And Hand Transplants; Apple’s Healthbook

Every week, KHN reporter Marissa Evans selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The New York Times: Income Gap, Meet The Longevity Gap
Fairfax County, Va., and McDowell County, W.Va., are separated by 350 miles, about a half-day’s drive. Traveling west from Fairfax County, the gated communities and bland architecture of military contractors give way to exurbs, then to farmland and eventually to McDowell’s coal mines and the forested slopes of the Appalachians. Perhaps the greatest distance between the two counties is this: Fairfax is a place of the haves, and McDowell of the have-nots. ... One of the starkest consequences of that divide is seen in the life expectancies of the people there. Residents of Fairfax County are among the longest-lived in the country: Men have an average life expectancy of 82 years and women, 85, about the same as in Sweden. In McDowell, the averages are 64 and 73, about the same as in Iraq (Annie Lowrey, 3/15).

The Boston Globe: The Future Of Face And Hand Transplants
Transplant leaders are debating national rules for the distribution of deceased donors' faces and hands, tackling ethically challenging questions such as which disfigured patients across the country should get priority for these surgeries as they become more common. The thorny issues are likely to include whether certain patients, such as children or the most severely maimed, should go to the top of waiting lists for donor faces and hands. The organization that oversees kidney, liver, heart, and lung transplants in the United States has assembled 18 industry leaders, including two from Boston, to recommend policies for faces and hands, a step that signals mainstream medicine’s growing acceptance of these once-futuristic operations (Liz Kowalczyk, 3/17). 

The Atlantic: Life Of A Police Officer: Medically And Psychologically Ruinous
It was 1995, and for the next 19 years, Brian [Post] would blame himself for not being closer to Whispering Pines, for not saving Sangeeta [Lal, who was killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend]. Brian was 31 when she was killed, and had been an officer for five years. "She was in the worst environment, and she was trying," said Brian, now 50. "You never know when you've saved a life, but you know when you've lost one." Sangeeta’s death marked the beginning of a downward spiral in Brian's health, spurred on by a psychologically and physically challenging law enforcement career. Brian had been a healthy and fit ex-airborne infantry soldier when he began his policing career. But he eventually developed hypertension, anxiety, peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss, arthritis, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Erika Hayasaki, 3/17).  

9 To 5 Mac: This Is Healthbook, Apple’s Major First Step Into Health & Fitness Tracking
Seven years out from the original iPhone's introduction, and four years past the iPad's launch, Apple has found its next market ripe for reinvention: the mobile healthcare and fitness-tracking industry. Apple’s interest in healthcare and fitness tracking will be displayed in an iOS application codenamed Healthbook. I first wrote about Apple’s plans for Healthbook in January, and multiple sources working directly on the initiative’s development have since provided new details and images of Healthbook that provide a clearer view of Apple’s plans for dramatically transforming the mobile healthcare and fitness-tracking space (Mark Gurman, 3/17).

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