An Election Day playlist: 9 talks on making healthcare affordable

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It’s voting day in the United States. As Americans line up at the polls to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, eyes around the world are fixed on the contest, which predictions say will come down to a few key issues. So what has mattered most to Americans in this election? The TED Blog read this Gallup poll, which reveals the issues citizens want the next president to prioritize. Since these topics are ones speakers often address on the TED stage, for the past two months, we’ve brought you a series of playlists focusing on the top-rated issues. Today, the final installment.

It’s no surprise that “making healthcare available and affordable” is an issue Americans examined closely this election. 74 percent of US citizens surveyed indicated that healthcare was either “extremely important” or “very important” to them as they decided who to vote for. While some believe that healthcare reform can benefit us all exponentially, others say it’s far too complex and costly an institution to change. While the breadth of this issue can only begin to be scratched, the following 9 TED Talks provide a range of big ideas on improving corners of our health systems. (Also, check out the essay “Who’s really serious about fixing healthcare?,” part of our first-ever TEDWeekends on the Huffington Post.)

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Daniel Kraft: Medicine’s future? There’s an app for that
If the scientific method is all about theoretical deduction and experimentation, then according to this healthcare professional, we’re not effectively using health data to accelerate innovation. In this talk from TEDxMaastricht, Daniel Kraft shows that by linking advanced technologies, great young minds and social media together we can develop mobile apps that will recognize global health insufficiencies and create portable, personal solutions based on aggregated data.

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Jamie Heywood: The big idea my brother inspired
After Jamie Heywood’s brother Steven — a 29-year-old father — was diagnosed with ALS, his family embarked on a long journey toward approaching healthcare in a positive way. At TEDMed 2009, Heywood shares how he created Patients Like Me, a website that provides tools for patients so that they can track their own health status. The idea is that, with better information, a patient can engage with their doctor and influence their treatment.

Jack Andraka: Detecting pancreatic cancer … at 15
Pancreatic cancer is extremely fatal because, once it is detected, it has generally spread throughout the body. During the TED Talent Search, 15-year-old Jack Andraka shared an early detection system that he is currently developing. By studying a protein that can be spotted at an early stage of pancreatic cancer, Andraka is creating a minimally invasive test that could raise the survival rate from 5.5% to over 50%.

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Rebecca Onie: What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?
In 1995, Rebecca Onie was an energetic law school student looking to make a difference in the lives of her low-income clients, many of whom had medical issues. Soon, she noticed a distinct correlation between the limited time doctors spent getting to know their patients and the larger societal problems perpetuating their poor living conditions. Thus, Health Leads was born to promote a health care system, rather than a “sick care system.” At TEDMed 2012, Onie shows how prescribing basic resources can keep patients healthy.

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Lucien Engelen: Crowdsource your health
Lucien Engelen did not like the fact that you could use your smart phone to find the best Chinese food in the vicinity, but couldn’t use it to locate a defibrillator. In this talk from TEDxMaastricht, Engelen shows how encouraging patients to share information can save lives. With the development of a crowdsourced worldwide AED tracking website, citizens can keep track of where they’re finding defibrillators, and companies can validate their existence in order to save lives in a flash.

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Max Little: A test for Parkinson’s with a phone call
There 6.3 million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s disease. Max Little’s visionary idea takes diagnosing the disease from a high-cost neurological test to an intimate moment in the hands of the patient. At TEDGlobal 2012, Little showed how a 30-second phone call — coupled with precise voice analysis software — could be all that’s needed for a diagnosis through the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative.

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William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer?
Have you heard about the angiogenesis revolution? Well, understanding angiogenesis — the process by which your body grows new blood vessels — can help us not only prevent cancer, but keep it in remission. In this talk from TED2010, William Li addresses a hypothetically life-changing approach to treating and preventing cancer.

Alexander Grey: My muscle-measuring machine
Alexander Grey paid tribute to his father’s medical legacy by founding Somaxis, a start-up challenging the medical field with kinesthetic innovations. Somaxis developed affordable sensors that measure muscle energy, allowing you to predict injuries and preserve energy for optimum performance. With this innovation, people might some day be able to see back pain coming from their chair at work, or embark on a foot race with athletes overseas.

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Jay Bradner: Open-source cancer research
Jay Bradner moved to Boston 10 years ago to discover how chemistry could effectively treat and kill cancer. While doing research on a rare cancer and its untargetable protein, his lab found a way to trick cancer into developing into a normal cell. By employing the eagerness of citizens, Bradner and his team hope to open-source their chemical findings. As he revealed at TEDxBoston, they hope to take pharmaceutical companies by storm and find the effective solutions themselves.