In critical areas like quality, access, equity and -- above all -- cost, the U.S. healthcare system lags embarrassingly behind those of other developed nations. Congress spent much of the last year debating and ultimately passing a reform plan. Time will tell whether its goals will be met. The real hope, though, can be found outside Washington, where potentially revolutionary innovations in care are being explored by doctors and scientists every day.
In this slide show, Salon looks at some of the innovations with the most promise of cutting costs and improving efficiency and patient care.