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Healthcare Consumerism? Not So Fast, Alegeus Finds

Millions of U.S. patients have more financial skin in the American health care game. But are they behaving like the “consumers” they are assumed to be as members in consumer-directed health plans? Not so much, yet, explained John Park, Chief Strategy Officer at Alegeus, during a discussion of his company’s 2015 Healthcare Consumerism Index. This research is based on an online survey of over 1,000 U.S. healthcare consumers in April 2016. Alegeus looks at healthcare consumerism across two main dimensions: healthcare spending and healthcare saving. As the chart summarizes, consumers show greater engagement and focus on buying a TV or car, choosing

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What Financial Health Means to Me: It’s Baked Into Wellness

Today is Financial Wellness Day. Do you know how financially well you are? Let me take a crack at that answer, even though I haven’t seen your bank account (which you may not even have as over 20% of people in the US are, as financial services companies would call you “un-banked” or “under-banked”.) You have some level of fiscal stress, ranging from a little to a lot. You aren’t taking all of your summer vacation your employer extends to you. You’re spending around $1 in every $5 of your household budget on health care. And your sleep isn’t as

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The Promise of the Platform Economy for Health

There’s a lot of talk about the growing platform economy. If well-designed platforms get adopted in healthcare, they may help our ailing healthcare systems get better. The quality, safety, and convenience of healthcare in America suffer from a lack of patients’ personal health data being essentially locked in data siloes. The diagnosis is lack of data “liquidity:” the ability for our health information generated in various touch points in the healthcare system and in our personal lives each day to move outside of the locations where the bits and bytes were first created: to our clinicians, researchers, health providers, and to

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Color Me Well – Coloring Books As Rx for Wellness

Coloring books are best sellers in bookstores, craft merchandisers, newspaper stands, and on Amazon. Now, they’re joining the health and wellness world. The market growth of coloring books has been recognized in national media like the Washington Post, who called the phenomenon, “a bright spot in the financial results of publishers and retailers alike.” Nielsen Bookscan estimated that 12 million were sold in 2015, up from 1 million in 2014. Publishers Weekly covered the craze in November 2015. A Forbes column said, “The adult coloring craze continues and there is no end in sight.” Some of the mental health benefits

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The State of Health Benefits in 2016: Reallocating the Components

Virtually all employers who offer health coverage to workers extend health benefits to all full-time employees. 94% offer health care coverage to opposite-sex spouses, and 83% to same-sex spouses. One-half off health benefits to both opposite-sex and same-sex domestic partners (unmarried). Dental insurance, prescription drug coverage, vision insurance, mail order prescription programs, and mental health coverage are also offered by a vast majority (85% and over) of employers. Welcome to the detailed profile of workplace benefits for the year, published in 2016 Employee Benefits, Looking Back at 20 Years of Employee Benefits Offerings in the U.S., from the Society for Human

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PwC’s “Behind the Numbers” – Where the Patient Stands

The growth of health care costs in the U.S. is expected to be a relatively moderate 6.5% in 2017, the same percentage increase as between 2015 and 2016, according to Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2017, an annual forecast from PwC. As the line chart illustrates, the rate of increase of health care costs has been declining since 2007, when costs were in double-digit growth mode. Since 2014, health care cost growth has hovered around the mid-six percent’s, considered “low growth” in the PwC report. What’s driving overall cost increases is price, not use of services: in fact, health care

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Philips Left Me Breathless With This Video – The Breathless Choir

The top award at the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for best pharmaceutical advertising campaign went to Philips, the company that’s placing a big corporate bet on digital health.  The campaign was called Breathless Choir, and it left me, well, breathless (in a good way). Watch it now. This is how health/care advertising should be done. This inspires health and patient engagement, social connections, and sound self-care principles. Evidence shows that singing in the right way can bolster lung capacity — just what these patients, all dealing with some sort of respiratory condition, must do to enhance their quality

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The Primacy of People as Health/Care Goes Digital: Accenture

Digital platforms and tools are fast-advancing in all industries, and especially in health and health care. But it’s people-first, and digital PLUS analog, based on Accenture’s latest forecast of five macro technology trends. The five forces are: Intelligent automation – 70% of health executives expect to invest more in artificial intelligence; Liquid workforce – 42% of health/care workers are expected to be contractors or free agents within organizations within 3 years’ Platform economy – 10x growth is expected in application programming interfaces (APIs) in the next five years, which will enable data to liquidly move across healthcare platforms Predictable disruption

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Will the Big Box Store Be Your Health Provider?

“Gas ‘N’ Health Care” is one of my most-used cartoons these days as I talk with health/care ecosystem stakeholders about the growing and central role of consumers in health care. You may be surprised to learn that the brilliant cartoonist Michael Maslin created this image back in 1994. That’s 22 years ago. When I first started using this image in my meetings with health care folks, they’d all giggle and think, ‘isn’t that funny?’ Legacy health care players — hospitals, doctors, Pharma, and medical device companies — aren’t laughing at this anymore. At a Costco a 20 minutes’ drive from

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Prescriptions for Food: the New Medicine

Hippocrates is often quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” While some researchers argue that Hippocrates knew the difference between ‘real’ medicine and clinical therapy, there’s no doubt he appreciated the social determinant of health and wellness that food was 1,000 years ago and continues to be today. Taking a page, or prescription note, from the good doctor’s Rx pad, food retailers, healthcare providers, local food banks, and State healthcare programs are working the food-as-medicine connection to bolster public health. One approach to food-as-medicine is promoting the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables — the

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The Health Disparities of Being Gay

#PrayForOrlando The club Pulse, site of the biggest mass gun shooting in U.S. history, was named to honor one of the co-owner’s brothers, who succumbed to AIDS in 1991. In today’s Health Populi, I soberly ponder the lost lives in the Orlando massacre of people who joyfully convened in a safe haven to celebrate life, liberty, and their pursuits of happiness. Over fifty people ended up dead, and there will be more mortalities as the health workers at Orlando Regional Medical Center continue to fight the post-trauma battle to save gunned-down lives. We define “health” broadly in Health Populi and

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Love, Mercy and Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare – call it telemedicine, remote monitoring, or the umbrella term, telehealth – is coming of age. And it’s a form of healthcare that a growing percentage of consumers in the U.S. want. I’m in Branson, Missouri, today, meeting with the State’s Hospital Association to talk about consumers in the growing DIY health/care economy. So “telehealth,” broadly defined, is part of my message. This week Xerox announced its survey results focused on consumers’ interests in telehealth. “Xerox helps healthcare providers serve patients anytime, anywhere,” the press release starts. Convenience, cost-savings, and the ability to consult physicians quickly and get e-refills are

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Financial Toxicity: The High Cost of Cancer Drugs in the U.S.

Two news items published in the past week point to the yin/yang of cancer survivorship and the high prices of cancer drugs. The good news: a record number of people in the US are surviving cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. That number is 15.5 million Americans, according to a study in the cancer journal CA. Note the demographics of cancer survivors: One-half are 70 years of age and older 56% were diagnosed in the past ten years, and one-third in the past 5 years Women were more likely to have had breast cancer (3.5 mm), uterine cancer (757,000),

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Are We Health Engaged Yet? Frost & Sullivan Responds “Meh”

The top health-related activities among U.S. adults include routinely taking vitamins and supplements, and prescription medicines, according to Frost & Sullivan’s report, Are We Engaged Yet? Their response to the titular question lies in in the subtitle: “US consumers appear confused or ambivalent about what it means to be proactive or engaged in their health.” 1 in 2 U.S. adults says they’re “somewhat engaged” in their healthcare, according to Reenita Das’s write-up on the study in Forbes magazine. She notes that: Consumers with higher incomes have more confidence in their access to health care services and quality of care Budget-constrained consumer

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Food As Medicine Update: Kroger, the FDA, and Walmart

There’s growing recognition of the role of food in health, on both the supply side of grocers, food growers and consumer marketers; and, among consumers who are, increasingly, shopping for food with health on their minds. 8 in 10 consumers in the U.S. enter a grocery store thinking about the health attributes of what they’re about to choose from the aisles that are stocked with more gluten-free, GMO-labelled, and organic products, according to the 2015 Deloitte Pantry Study. Our physicians have begun to “prescribe” food, especially as the collective BMI of Americans has reached medically catastrophic levels. See this forecast from

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Connecting Mental Health Spending to Job Creation in the U.S.

Heart disease and cancer may be the top killers of people who live in the U.S., but the top health spending line item was for mental disorders: $201 billion in 2013. The chart explains a critical aspect of the spending in that top green portion of the bar: the turquoise segment was for spending on “civilian noninstitutionalized” people, and the green was for “institutionalized and active-duty military.” Mental health issues account, by far, for the largest medical spending in a single condition as shown by the top green bar segment in the chart. These insights come from the Commerce Department’s Bureau

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Healthcare Costs for a Family of Four Will Be $25,826 in 2016

If you had exactly $25,826 in your pocket today, would you rather buy a new Chrysler 200 sedan, send a son or daughter to a year of college at Wake Forest University, or pay for your family’s health care in an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization? Welcome to the annual 2016 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), one of the most important health economic studies I’ve relied on for many years. This year’s underlying question is, “Who cooked up this expensive recipe?” posed in the report’s title. The key statistics in this year’s MMI are that: Healthcare costs for a typical family of four

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What Health Care Can Learn from the Blood Clot Community

  “Our goal is to create an aware and engaged, irritating set of patients who create a dialogue with health care providers once they’ve had a [blood] clot,” explained Randy Fenninger, CEO of the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA). NBCA’s tagline and hashtag is “Stop the Clot.” Welcome to the multi-stakeholder community involved with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and, clinically speaking, Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). We’re talking blood clots, and the public health burden of this condition is big: it’s a leading cause of death and disability. One in 4 people in the world die of conditions caused by thrombosis. I had

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Most Americans Favor A Federally-Funded Health System

6 in 10 people in the US would like to replace the Affordable Care Act with a national health insurance program for all Americans, according to a Gallup Poll conducted on the phone in May 2016 among 1,549 U.S. adults. By political party, RE: Launch a Federal/national health insurance plan (“healthcare a la Bernie Sanders”): Among Democrats, 73% favor the Federal/national health insurance plan, and only 22% oppose it; 41% of Republicans favor it and 55% oppose it. RE: Repeal the ACA (“healthcare a la Donald Trump”): Among Democrats, 25% say scrap the ACA, and 80% of Republicans say to do

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Costs and Connection At the Core of Consumers’ Health-Value Equations

Cost ranks first among the factors of selecting health insurance for most Americans across the generations. As a result, most consumers are likely to shop around for both health providers and health plans, learned through a 2016 Xerox survey detailed in New Insights on Value-Based Care, Healthcare Attitudes 2016. The younger the consumer, the more important costs are, Xerox’s poll found, shown in the first chart. Thus, “shopping around” is more pronounced among younger health consumers — although a majority people who belong to Boomer and Greatest Generation cohorts do shop around for both health providers and health insurance plans —

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