Surgical robots like this one are wildly expensive. Before the economic troubles began, investment in such high-tech medical devices was plentiful. Now, hospitals are looking for comparatively simple solutions to cut costs: streamline medical billing and even investing in $1 catheters that can save upwards of $50,000.
It wasn't that long ago that money flowed steadily to entrepreneurs who dreamt up whiz-bang medical devices.
Hospitals souped up their surgical suites with robots or high-tech radiation machines for cancer treatment. Cost wasn't an issue: They just got passed along to insurance companies, who passed them on to employers and patients.
But after the Great Recession hit and the 2010 health law passed, the financiers behind the medical arms race started to rethink their investment calculus.
Members of the media, wearing protective suits and masks, visit the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power station during a press tour, in northeastern Japan's Fukushima prefecture, Feb. 28. Japan is marking the first anniversary of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country's history.
Credit Franck Robichon / EPA/Landov
Koichi Kitazawa (shown here March 1 in Tokyo), former director of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, heads the independent commission that investigated the Fukushima accident. The commission concluded that the government, and not a nuclear power company, should bear primary responsibility for the nation's nuclear safety.
Credit Issei Kato / AP
The Unit 3 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, shown here on Feb. 20, 2012, was one of three reactors involved in the nuclear accident last year.
A year after suffering the worst nuclear accident in its history, Japan is still struggling to understand what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast.
Last week, an independent commission released a report arguing that Japan narrowly averted what could have been a far deadlier disaster and that the government withheld this information from the public.
Brownies from Troop 65343 in Brookline, Mass. recite the Girl Scout pledge. Enrollment in the organization has declined since the 1980s, but a modernizing makeover and new focus on minority and immigrant communities have helped some.
Credit Tovia Smith / NPR
A member of Brownie Troop 65343 works on an art project at a troop meeting.
It's hard to imagine Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Lucille Ball as part of the same club. But they were all, at one time, Girl Scouts. Founded 100 years ago in Savannah, Ga., the Girl Scouts now count 3.2 million members.
Girl Scout cookies have become as much of an American tradition as apple pie. At a busy intersection in Brookline, Mass., a gaggle of Girl Scouts stand behind a folding table piled high with boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas and Shortbreads.
"They are really, really good," the troop collectively assures a prospective buyer.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled today that Gov. Haley Barbour's controversial pardons are valid. Barbour handed out about 200 pardons on his way out of office in January and about 10 of them had been challenged in court.