Steve Jobs’ health care legacy
In the health care world, the “ultimate tribute” to Steve Jobs will be creation of a loose network of researchers and patients — ideally with help from health insurance companies — who are using iPads, MacBooks and other Apple products to detect and cure cancer, a health care executive says.
“That will be a complete realization of his quest to liberalize the flow of ideas and the value that inevitably results,” says Jeremy Shane, president and chief operating officer of The HealthCentral Network Inc., a Virginia-based company that operates more than 35 health-related websites.
|Steve Jobs was dedicated to “living every last moment of his life,” one health care executive says.|
Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc., died Oct. 5 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. In 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplant. Jobs drew criticism for skirting the system to get a new liver more quickly and easily than most Americans would be able to.
Jobs’ liver transplant
Kevin Flynn, president of HealthCare Advocates Inc., a Pennsylvania company that bills itself as an “auto club for health care,” says Jobs was able to get the liver transplant in Tennessee — where the waiting list for an organ was substantially shorter than in Jobs’ home state of California as well as most other states — “because he had the money to spend for flights, hotels and, most importantly, the care.”
Flynn pegs the cost of an organ transplant at $500,000 to $1 million.
“There is inherent value in trying things like the liver transplant that Jobs had,” says Shane, a former health care policy analyst in the federal government.
“To some, these are high-cost, last-ditch extravagances, but they are also the best way to develop real-world data that, in the course of time, suggest better therapies or create incentives to try radically different approaches when accepted wisdom is no longer generating better results.”
‘A wonderful example’
Shane says Jobs set “a wonderful example” for people facing serious illnesses.
“Apple took flak for what it did not disclose to shareholders about Jobs’ health,” Shane says. “The more important point is that even though Jobs at times undoubtedly was quite ill, he continued to lead effectively and drive wonderful ideas to fruition. Sickness is serious and getting well is everyone’s goal, but a person can be a valuable contributor at work and in society even as they fight a serious health issue.”
Shane points out that some of Apple’s most valuable product and marketing innovations happened after Jobs was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. Those innovations include the iPhone, the iPad and iTunes.
“Creativity and technological innovation … tend to defy what actuarial tables tell us to have been true in the past,” Shane says. “Applying historical data to future events is at best an estimate, one that cannot begin to quantify what someone who is sick or grievously wounded might still create.”
Jobs ‘never gave up hope’
The life expectancy of someone with pancreatic cancer is five to eight months, Flynn says. Jobs lived for seven years after his diagnosis, partly because he had the money to cover what his health insurance did not, according to Flynn.
Flynn also credits Jobs’ relative longevity to “his own dedication to living every last moment of his life. He never gave up hope.”