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Workplace Wellness Goes Holistic, Virgin Pulse Finds

“Work is the second most common source of stress, just behind financial worries,” introduces The Business of Healthy Employees report from Virgin Pulse, the company’s 2016 survey of workplace health priorities published this week. Virgin Pulse collaborated with Workforce magazine, polling 908 employers and 1,818 employees about employer-sponsored health care, workers’ health habits, and wellness benefit trends. Workplace wellness programs are becoming more holistic, integrating a traditional physical wellness focus with mental, social, emotional and financial dimensions for 3 in 4 employers. Wearable technology is playing a growing role in the benefit package and companies’ cultures of health, as well

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One in Two People Use Wearable Tech in 2016

Nearly 1 in 2 people own at least one wearable device, up from 21% in 2014; one-third of people own more than one such device that tracks some aspect of everyday life, according to PwC’s latest research on the topic, The Wearable Life 2.0 – Connected living in a wearable world, from PwC. Wearable technology in this report is defined as accessories and clothing incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies, such as fitness trackers, smart glasses (e.g., Google Glass), smartwatches, and smart clothing. Specifically, 45% of people own a fitness band, such as a Fitbit, the most popular device in this

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GoHealthEvents, An Online Source For Consumer Retail Health Opportunities

“Health comes to your local store,” explains the recently-launched portal, GoHealthEvents. This site is a one-stop shop for health consumers who are seeking health screenings and consults in local retail channels like big box stores, club stores, drug stores, and grocery stores. Events covered include cholesterol, diabetes, heart health, nutrition, osteoporosis, senior health, vaccinations and immunizations. By simply submitting a zip code, a health consumer seeking these kinds of services can identify where and when a local retailer will provide it. I searched on my own zip code in suburban Philadelphia, and found the following opportunities taking place in the

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Wearable Activity Tracking Device Purchasing Expected to Grow 11% in 2016

At the start of 2016, the current installed base of wearable activity tracking devices was just over 33 million in the U.S. This consumer market penetration is expected to grow by 11% in 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) forecast published in the 18th Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study. Wearable tech comprises a very small piece of the larger consumer technology market, led by TVs, smartphones, headphones (wired), DVD players, and notebook/laptop/netbook computers, the four largest rectangles in the graphic. However, there is growth momentum for emerging consumer tech segments such as portable wireless speakers,

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It’s World Health Day: Stay Super, Act Local

April 7 is World Health Day, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has named #diabetes the big public health challenge for 2016. What’s striking about this year’s World Health Day is the “Stay Super” public health ad campaign that WHO has developed featuring figures of super-people. THINK: Superman and Wonderwoman meet Doctors Welby, Kildare, and McDreamy. I’ve included several of the posters in the blog today to show how engaging health messaging works well when it works. The materials can be downloaded at this link. This week also saw the publication of America’s Health Rankings, spotlighting the impact of unhealthy behaviors.

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Digital Food

When I say “Fitbit,” you may think, “digital health.” When I mention “Gatorade,” “Nestle,” and “Dannon,” you might think, “drink,” “chocolate,” and “yogurt.” But soon, the phrase “digital health” will come to mind. That’s because a growing list of food manufacturers is looking to digital technologies to bake (or cook, blend, or mix) health into their value propositions. “Gatorade Taps Into Tech-Thirsty Consumers” is an article published in today’s Wall Street Journal, page B1 in the Business & Tech section of the newspaper. Mike Estrel writes that Gatorade is going high tech, working on a “smart cap” bottle with a microchip

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Behavioral Economics in Motion: UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm

What do you get when one of the largest health insurance companies supports the development of a medical-grade activity tracker, enables data to flow through a HIPAA-compliant cloud, and nudges consumers to use the app by baking behavioral economics into the program? You get Motion from UnitedHealthcare, working with Qualcomm Life’s 2net cloud platform, a program announced today during the 2016 HIMSS conference. What’s most salient about this announcement in the context of HIMSS — a technology convention — is that these partners recognize the critical reality that for consumers and their healthcare, it’s not about the technology. It’s about

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TIME Sees Lots of Health in the Best Inventions of 2015

Among TIME magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2015, most relate directly or adjacently to health and health care. Among the 25 are: The EKO Stethoscope A gluten-sniffing sensor, the 6SensorLabs Nima The Sproutling baby monitor Nike Flyease 8 shoes, that you can tie with one hand Cogni-Toys Dino, the toy that talks back A smart refrigerator that can fix you a glass of nutrient-enriched water The TZOA environmental tracker for personal pollution sensing, measuring atmosphere in a specific area (e.g., temperature, particulates such as dust, pollen, mold, and car exhaust), and UV ­exposure Doppler Labs Here Active Listening earbuds The

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The Internet of Healthy Things According to Dr. Kvedar

By 2020, according to the World Economic Forum, more than 5 billion people and 30 billion “things” will be connected to the Internet — cars, refrigerators, TVs, washing machines and coffeemakers, among those 5 bn folks’ electronic stuff. But so will medical devices, activity trackers, and a host of sensor-enabled “things” to help people and clinicians optimize health and manage illness. The Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon, which is already penetrating households with energy management and security applications, is reaching health care. One of the pioneers in this connected health market is Dr. Joseph Kvedar, who leads the Center for

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The Future 100 from JWT – Health Is Everywhere in 2016

Food + Drink, Beauty, Tech + Innovation, Retail, Lifestyle…JWT pulls out their crystal ball for 2016, and I see health, everywhere. The Future 100 – Trends and Change to Watch in 2016 is J. Walter Thompson Intelligence Innovation Group’s annual trend forecast, which I highly value and mine each year to help THINK-Health continue to hone our own environmental analyses for health and healthcare. [Here’s what I wrote one year ago about JWT’s 2015 forecast]. Health is baked into JWT’s 2016 trendscape, well beyond their “Health” chapter. Even the report’s introduction is health-flavored: “As forecasters, we’re watching the rapid metabolism

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Activity Wearables on Black Friday 2015 – Doorbusters Abound

The 2015 holiday shopper can find activity trackers for gifting discounted as much as 50% and more over Thanksgiving weekend. In greater Philadelphia, the Thursday print newspaper ads were chock full of examples from Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart, among others. Among the many “Doorbusters” and deep discounts were a Misfit Flash tracker for $14.99 at Best Buy (a 50% discount), a Fitbit Zip at both Kohl’s and Walmart for $39 ($20 off the manufacturers’ suggested retail price), and a Fitbit Flex at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $49.95 — 50% off full retail. That trackers are

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The Fast-Growing Consumer Digital Health Ecosystem – Health 2.0 Day 2

The fastest-growing category of products and services at Health 2.0 is consumer-facing digital health, and a panel of companies demonstrated various flavors of the New Retail Health. One of the most prominent companies featured in Health 2.0’s conferences from the inception has been MyFitnessPal (MFP), a long-time helpful tool I’ve used to manage my own health-life. Under Armour acquired MFP earlier this year, which I covered here in Health Populi. Under Armour’s original mission was to make all athletes better. With the company’s acquisition of MyFitnessPal, Under Armour continued its morphing from a textile and sports gear company to a

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Fitness tech will boost holiday retail sales for consumer electronics

Sales of computers and tablets and LCD TVs won’t be hot on peoples’ holiday shopping lists in 2015. But smartwatches, health and fitness tech, and 4K Ultra HD TVs will be in peoples’ gift wish-lists and under homes’ holiday trees. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) published its 2015 U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts report, and it shows a shifting retail picture where traditional consumer electronics categories — notably computers and mainstream TVs — are declining in demand. But new-new categories are expected to buoy 2015 retail sales. The new categories of consumer electronics will generate about $10 bn (wholesale

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Sports and the Internet of Things: the Scoop & Score podcast

From elite soccer and football fields to youth athletes in public school gyms, wearable technology has come to sports bringing two big benefits of gathering data at the point of exercise: to gauge performance and coach back to the athlete in real time, and to prevent injury. I discussed the advent of the Internet of Things in sports on the Scoop and Score podcast with Andrew Kahn, sports journalist and writer, and Stephen Kahn, sports enthusiast and business analyst. [In full disclosure these two Kahn’s are also my brilliant nephews.] We recorded the podcast on July 14, 2015, the day

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Digital health mainstreams at CE Week 2015

Digital health is a fast-growing category of consumer electronics, and many new mobile and wearable health devices were featured at the 2015 CE Week held in New York City. The major themes of the “Fresh Gear” unveiled at the meeting included connected cars, connected home devices, 3-D printing, and a growing array of wristbands, apps, and wearable devices focused on the already-crowded health/wellness segment, and the emerging health/care area. The five I’ll focus on are good examples of digital health tech’s aimed at mainstream consumers shopping at retail at the middle of the market: an area that’s ripe to be served.

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Congratulations, Fitbit – what $4.1 bn looks like

When I clipped you to my underwear for the first time in 2011, I’d no idea that you were about to change my life, health and mindfulness. You were my first digital activity tracker and since then, I’ve purchased three versions of you…as well as others. Fitbit, you really did change my life and help me become more mindful of my activity, my calorie burn, ultimately supporting me in losing weight and keeping it off. Since its launch in 2009, the brand name “Fitbit” has become synonymous with digital activity tracking, the most popular digital pedometer on the market —

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Avoiding Wrinkles: A World Without Tobacco

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, heralded by the World Health Organization, and celebrated by the advocacy group Action on Smoking and Health (with the very appropriate acronym ASH). Smoking is one of the most addictive (anti-)health behaviors around, so persuading people to quit the habit continues to challenge public health advocates. Enter ASH’s engaging campaign called “The Wrinkler,” with the introductory question, “Ever notice how some people who are 25 look 45?” The video continues to explain how we can “expedite the aging process….Ladies, wish you were half your age? Don’t wait for him to look younger; make yourself

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Purchase of wearable fitness trackers expected to grow in 2015, but one-half of Americans would “never” buy one

Headphones and smartphones are the top two electronics products U.S. consumers intend to purchase in 2015. But the emerging consumer electronics categories of wearable fitness trackers, smart watches, and smarthome devices (especially “smart” thermostats) are positioned to grow, too, in 2015, according to the 17th Annual CE Ownership and Market Potential Study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Wearable trackers have an installed base of about 17 million devices in the U.S., with 11% of U.S. households intending to purchase a tracker in 2015 — 6 percentage points up from 2014 (about a 50% increase over 2014). There are about 6 million smart

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What Mavis Staples taught us about health at SXSW

While I am all health, all-the-time when I’m at the annual South-by-Southwest meet-up in Austin, I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of the documentary, Mavis! (exclamation point included and appropriate, given the energy and joy in the title’s subject). “Mavis” is Mavis Staples, who you should know for her music, as singer with her family’s group, The Staple Singers; and, for as a positive force for good. In fact, she’s a lesson in whole health, which is why I’m writing about here on Health Populi which is dedicated to health where we live, work, play, pray…and sing. For

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Health is a growth industry at SXSW

Health is the hot topic at SXSW. While edgy new movies and hot music are the foundational elements of the annual South-by-Southwest festival, health and health care are the fast-growing themes at the meet-up, where the new-new, month-old beautiful JW Marriott Hotel by the Convention Center hosted most of the digital health track sessions. Digital health today goes well beyond mobile apps and genomic futures. Philips was a major presence this year at SXSW with its vision, shared by me, THINK-Health, and the HeathcareDIY team, of connected health where we live, work, play, pray and learn. In the case of

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Physicians and mobile health – moving from “mobile” to simply “care”

February may be American Heart Month, African-American History Month, and Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month. But based on the volume of studies and reports published in the past two weeks, ’tis also the season for talking mobile health and doctors. This Health Populi post trend-weaves the findings. The big picture for mobile in health is captured by Citrix in its Mobile Analytics Report, dated February 2015. Everyday people are using mobile in work and daily living, blurring the distinctions between the various hats people wear. These roles, whether business or pleasure or life, happen 24×7, enabling through mobile platforms, Citrix found.

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Getting real about consumer demand for wearables: Accenture slows us down

Are you Feelin’ Groovy about wearables? Well slow down, you move too fast… …at least, according to Accenture’s latest survey into consumers’ perspectives on new technologies, published this week in conjunction with the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest annual convention in the U.S. featuring technology for people. At #CES2015, we’re seeing a rich trove of blinged-out, multi-sensor, shiny new wearable things at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. Swarovski crystals are paired with Misfit Wearables, called the Swarovski Shine, shown here as a shiny new thing, indeed. Withings launched its Activite fitness tracking watch in new colors.

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The Internet of Healthy Me – putting digital health in context for #CES2015

Men are from Mars and Women, Venus, when it comes to managing health and using digital tools and apps, based on a poll conducted by A&D Medical, who will be one of several hundred healthcare companies exhibiting at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas. Digital health, connected homes and cars, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will prominently feature at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. I’ll be attending this mega-conference, meeting up with digital health companies and platform providers that will enable the Internet of Healthy “Me” — consumers’ ability to self-track,

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Walgreens+WebMD: reinventing retail pharmacy

With the goal of driving a digital health platform for well-informed, effective self-care, the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain and prominent consumer-facing health information portal are allying to move from serving up pills and information to health “care.” Walgreens and WebMD launched their joint effort on 2nd October 2014, a few weeks after CVS/pharmacy re-branded as CVS Health. Welcome to the reinvention of the retail pharmacy. I spoke for a few minutes with David Schlanger, CEO, WebMD, and Alex Gourlay, President, Customer Experience and Daily Living, Walgreens, the day of the launch, to get early insights into the vision for

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Activity tracking is consumers’ #1 demand for smartwatches

Of all the functions a smartwatch could play, it’s activity tracking that’s top of most consumers’ minds. GfK conducted a survey in August 2014 among 5,000 smartphone-owning consumers in five countries — China, Germany, South Korea, the UK, and the U.S. The market research firm found that 29% of people see “activity tracking” the most important function. Phone calls ranked second with 13% of consumers, telling time 11%, and 10% voted for basic apps and navigation system. 7% of consumers noted the smartwatch would be desirable for basic web search. In this survey, activity tracking included the broad definition covering

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Health-wear – at Health 2.0, health met fashion, function and care

Wearables met health and medicine at the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA, last week. I had the real pleasure of shepherding a wearables panel of five innovators during the conference, in a well-attended session followed by an energetic Q&A. The organizations who demonstrated their tools and brainstormed the wearables market included, in alphabetical order, Atlas Wearables, Heartmath, MySugr, SunSprite and Withings. I hasten to add that among the five presenters, two were women: that 2 in 5 = 40% gender representation is, happily to my way of thinking about women’s roles in health-making, a very good

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Employers engaging in health engagement

Expecting health care cost increases of 5% in 2015, employers in the U.S. will focus on several tactics to control costs: greater offerings of consumer-directed health plans, increasing employee cost-sharing, narrowing provider networks, and serving up wellness and disease management programs. The National Business Group on Health’s Large Employers’ 2015 Health Plan Design Survey finds employers committed to health engagement in 2015 as a key strategy for health benefits. More granularly, addressing weight management, smoking cessation, physical activity, and stress reduction, will be top priorities, shown in the first chart. An underpinning of engagement is health care consumerism — which

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Blurred lines: health, pharmacy, food and care

In the past few weeks, several events bolster the reality that health and health care are in Blurred Lines mode. Not Robin Thicke Blurred Lines, mind you, but the Venn Diagram overlapping kind. Walmart launched real primary care clinics in South Carolina and Texas. These will provide services beyond urgent care, charging $4 a visit for company employees and $40 a visit for other people The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report promoting “nudges” to grocery shoppers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) to buy healthy foods Apple is talking with Cleveland Clinic, Johnson Hopkins, and Mount Sinai Medical

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Stress Is US

“Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it,” Lily Tomlin once quipped. Perhaps in 2014, America is the land of stress because we’re all so in touch with reality. THINK: reality TV, social networks as the new confessional, news channeling 24×7, and a world of too much TMI. So no surprise, then, that one-half of the people in the U.S. have had a major stressful event or experience in the last year. And health tops the list of stressful events in This American Life in the forms of illness and disease (among 27% of people)

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The battle of the bands, digital health style – live from #CEWeek in NYC

There’s a growing number of wearable digital health devices on the market, and more will appear at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Four new such products competed live today at CE Week’s Battle of the Bands, an event launched by Living in Digital Times. The competitors included GoQii, Healbe, Skulpt, and Wellograph, Wellograph calls itself “the world’s first wellness watch.” Made of sapphire crystal, the watch has a sleek design, targeting a working professional audience who wants a view on health throughout the day. The watch has an Integrated heart rate sensor, taking readings from the wrist for pulse,

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Go, You Chicken Fat, Go! Kennedy Met the Music Man for Health (and Apple Takes a Bite)

What do you get when you pair Meredith Wilson, the writer-composer of The Music Man, with Robert Preston (who acted the starring role of Harold Hill, the traveling music-band instrument salesman) with a President committed to reversing the “softness” he saw in American health citizens? You get “Go, You Chicken Fat, Go,” a rousing band-and-choir backed anthem to promote people to engage in more exercise and shed their “chicken fat.” President Kennedy was the public health Prez who, in 1960, asked Meredith Wilson to pen a national anthem to motivate Americans who he considered were growing “soft.” Back in the

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The retailization of digital health: Consumer Electronics Association mainstreams health

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has formed a new Health and Fitness Technology Division, signalling the growing-up and mainstreaming of digital health in everyday life. The CEA represents companies that design, manufacture and market goods for people who pay for stuff that plugs into electric sockets and operate on batteries — like TVs, phones, music playing and listening, kitchen appliances, electronic games, and quite prominent at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, e-cigarettes (rebranding “safe smoking” as “vaping” technology). In its press release announcing this news, CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro says, “Technology innovations now offer unprecedented opportunities for consumers to

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The appification of health – a bullish outlook from Mobiquity

Over half of people using health and fitness apps began using them over six months ago, and one-half of these people who have downloaded health and fitness apps use them daily according to survey research summarized in the report, Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness from Mobiquity. The company contracted a survey conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2014 who use or plan to use mobile apps to track health and fitness. Thus the “N” in this study was a group of people already interested in self-tracking health and not representative of the broader U.S. consumer

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The digital health bubble – is it about to burst? #SXSW

That’s a useful and timely question, given the news that Castlight Health will launch its IPO with valuations north of $1 billion. Yes, “billions,” and according to a  MarketWatch analysis, “it’s a bargain at $1 billion.” So then – do we anticipate a bubble? asked Marc Monseau of the Mint Collective, the convener of our panel who brought together Robert Stern, a successful health-tech entrepreneur whose latest venture, @PointofCare, focuses on patient engagement; Marco Smit of Next Innovation Health Partners (parting from the Health 2.0 Conference family where he led Health 2.0 Advisors for several years); and me. Some key

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Digital health is hot at South-by-Southwest #SXSH

Today kicked off the 2014 South-by-Southwest Festival (#SXSW) in Austin, TX, running until March 16 and featuring dozens of sessions, concerts, video, and fireside chats in music, film and interactive segments. I’ll be involved in an interactive session on Tuesday called “The Digital Health Bubble – Is It About to Burst?” This panel includes Marc Monseau (@MDMonseau) who is a pioneer in health and social media (building J&J’s early leadership in social health online); Marco Smit (@MrHealth20) who leads Health 2.0 Advisors and is a veteran strategist in several health/tech companies; and, Robert Stern, Founder/CEO of @PointofCare, a health IT platform that

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Employers spending more on wellness in 2014, with growing focus on food

Employers continue to invest in wellness programs aimed at improving employees’ health. In 2014, 3 in 4 employers plan to offer incentives to employees who participate in health improvement programs compared = and the financial value of these incentives has grown to $500, up from $338 in 2010. In its fifth year, the National Business Group on Health (NBGH)/Fidelity Investments have conducted their benefit consulting survey, culminating in the report, Employer Investments in Improving Employee Health. In the past 5 years, employers have increased their investments in wellness: the chart illustrates the growth of programs addressing physical activity/weight management and health eating,

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Patient engagement and mobile health – design and timing matter

Thinking about personal health information technology – the wearable devices, remote health monitors, digital weight scales, and Bluetooth-enabled medical equipment scaled for the home – there are two glasses. One is half-full and the other, half-empty. The half-full glass is the proliferation of consumer-facing devices like Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike, which comprise the lion’s market share in the health wearables segment; the mass adoption of mobile phones and tablets; consumers’ multi-screen media behavior (as tracked by Nielsen); and consumers’ growing share of medical spending, now about 40% of annual spending (or something north of $8,000 for a family of four

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Watson goes wellness

IBM’s data analytics engine Watson, having cut its teeth on complex health care conditions like cancer, is now entering an even more challenging space: wellness. Why is wellness more challenging? Because understanding a person’s wellness goes beyond mining data from health care claims silos in hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians’ electronic health records. Wellness happens where we live, work, play and pray. Wellness is nurtured through choices made every day at home, in the workplace, and at moments-of-truth in the grocery store and restaurant where slick marketing messages planted in our subconscious compete with our more rational minds that tell us to

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Do People Really Want To Tech Their Health? in Huffington Post

This post appeared in my Huffington Post column on January 16, 2013. In the afterglow of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), away from the neon lights of Las Vegas, 4D curved TV screens, and uber-hip Google Glass wearers, a big question remains: Do we, the people, really want to tech our way to self-health? The number of digital health companies exhibiting at CES grew by 40 percent, exceeding 300 based on the count of the International Consumer Electronics Association, sponsor of the event. The hockey-stick growth of “wearable technology” seen at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show begs the question: Are there

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4 in 10 Americans keen to buy an app or device for health/fitness: Accenture’s 2014 digital lifestyle survey

Wearable technology is the new fashion accessory, Accenture observes in its 2014 survey report, Racing Toward a Complete Digital Lifestyle: Digital Consumers Crave More. In parallel with the supply-side growth of wearable technology that is seen this week at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, Accenture brings a sanguine story to the supply side of the equation, finding consumers “craving more” than one function from a digital device. Over one-half of consumers surveyed in six countries favored vehicle navigation, home safety/security monitors, health monitor, home comfort and control, fitness monitors, and personal safety monitors. Nearly one half (46%) liked smartwatches, and

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3 Things I Know About Health Care in 2014

We who are charged with forecasting the future of health and health care live in a world of scenario planning, placing bets on certainties (what we know we know), uncertainties (what we know we don’t know), and wild cards — those phenomena that, if they happen in the real world, blow our forecasts to smithereens, forcing a tabula rasa for a new-and-improved forecast. There are many more uncertainties than certainties challenging the tea leaves for the new year, including the changing role of health insurance companies and how they will respond to the Affordable Care Act implementation and changing mandates

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More chronically ill people use online health resources – but they’re not so social, Pew finds

People who are diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition are more likely to seek information online, use social media to understand peer patients’ reviews on drugs and treatments, and learn from other patients about their personal health experiences. While that’s encouraging news for a health empowerment headline, the underlying challenge that should prevent congratulatory fist-bumps among patient-engagement proponents is that people living with chronic disease are less likely to have internet access. Why? Because chronically ill people tend to be older and less educated, and they’re also less likely to be working. Simply put, “People living with chronic

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Color us stressed – how to deal

Coast-to-coast, stress is the modus vivendi for most Americans: 55% of people feel stressed in every day life, according to a study from Televox. A Stressful Nation: Americans Search for a Healthy Balance paints a picture of a nation of physically inactive people working too hard and playing too little. And far more women feel the stress than men do. 64% of people say they’re stressed during a typical workday. 52% of people see stress negatively impacting their lives. And nearly one-half of people believe they could better manage their stress. As a result, physicians say that Americans are experiencing negative

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Self-service health – how consumers can help solve the primary care shortage

Self-service – people DIYing health care — can help solve the primary care shortage in America, based on the findings of 23 studies published this week. If health information technologies (health IT) were “fully implemented” in 30% of doctors’ offices, demand for physicians would fall by 4 to 9%, according to The Impact of Health Information Technology and e-Health On the Future Demand for Physician Services, published in the November 2013 issue of Health Affairs. Weiner, Yeh and Blumenthal did a meta-analysis of the literature on health IT and its potential to improve productivity and extend physician services and found

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Mobile health apps – opportunity for patients and doctors to co-create the evidence

There are thousands of downloadable apps that people can use that touch on health. But among the 40,000+ mobile health apps available in iTunes, which most effectively drive health and efficient care? To answer that question, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics analyzed 43,689 health, fitness and medical apps in the Apple iTunes store as of June 2013. These split into what IMS categorized as 23,682 “genuine” health care apps, and 20,007 falling into miscellaneous categories such as product-specific apps, fashion and beauty, fertility, veterinary, and apps with “gimmicks” (IMS’s word) with no obvious health benefit. Among the 23,682 so-called

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Economics of obesity and heart disease: We, the People, can bend the curves

The “O” word drives health costs in America ever-upward. Without bending the obesity curve downward toward healthy BMIs, America won’t be able to bend that stubborn cost curve, either. The Economic Impacts of Obesity report from Alere Wellbeing accounts for the costs of chronic diseases and how high obesity rates play out in the forms of absenteeism, presenteeism, and direct health care costs to employers, workers and society-at-large. Among the 10 costliest physical health conditions, the top 3 are angina, hypertension and diabetes — all related to obesity and amenable to lifestyle behavior change. The top-line numbers set the context:

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7 Women and 1 Man Talking About Life, Health and Sex – Health 2.0 keeping it real

Women and binge drinking…job and financial stress…sleeplessness…caregiving challenges…sex…these were the topics covered in Health 2.0 Conference’s session aptly called “The Unmentionables.” The panel on October 1, 2013, was a rich, sobering and authentic conversation among 7 women and 1 man who kept it very real on the main stage of this mega-meeting that convenes health technology developers, marketers, health providers, insurers, investors, patient advocates, and public sector representatives (who, sadly, had to depart for Washington, DC, much earlier than intended due to the government shutdown). The Unmentionables is the brainchild of Alexandra Drane and her brilliant team at the Eliza

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Defining Mobile Health – the blur between health and health care

Mobilising Healthcare, a new report from Juniper Research, segments the mobile health sector into “healthcare” and “health & fitness” segments. The research summary notes that fitness is a relatively new market compared with health “care,” which has been around for eons. Fitness, the analysts say, “is exempt from government intervention.” Mobile healthcare (“mHealth”) applications explored include SMS health messaging, remote health provision such as cardiac monitoring, electronic health records and personal health records. In mFitness, Juniper looks into mobile tech for athletes and fitness conscious people, and activity tracking including heart function, distance, respiration, and perspiration, among other parameters. mHealth

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Needing a new kind of tracker to track #mhealth investments in 2013

The news this week that Fitbit attracted $42 million investment capital follows Withings’ announcement of $30 million (including Euro11 million from BPIFrance, the French national investment fund), Jawbone’s recent acquisition of Bodymedia for $100 million in April 2013, and MyFitnessPal raising $13 million earlier this month. The quick arithmetic for these four companies alone adds to roughly $200 mm in a few months going to these brands, which are feverishly competing for the heartbeats and footsteps of people who are keen to track their steps and stay healthy. Can you keep up? You need a new kind of activity tracker to track

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Eat fruits and vegetables: it’s worth $11 trillion to you and the U.S. economy

More than 127,000 people die every year in America from cardiovascular disease, accruing $17 billion in medical spending. Heart disease is a “costly killer,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has calculated The $11 trillion reward: how simple dietary changes can save lives and money, and how we get there, published in August 2013. That $11 trillion opportunity is equal to the present value of lives saved. The solution to bolstering heart (and overall health) and saving money (medical spending and personal productivity) is in food. We’re not talking about genetically engineering anything special or out-of-the-ordinary. We are talking

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People are growing their health-consumer muscles in 2013

  Most Americans are concerned about their ability to for medical bills, even when they have health insurance. As a result, most are comfortable asking their doctor about how much their medical treatment will cost. People are becoming savvier health care shoppers largely because they have to: 37% of people in the U.S. have an annual health insurance deductible over $2,000, according to the Spring/Summer 2013 Altarum Institute Survey of Consumer Health Care Opinion, published on 11th July 2013. Many of the media stories coming out of the Altarum survey since its publication have been about people and their trust in

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Healthways buys into Dr. Ornish’s approach: will “Ornish-inside” scale wellness in America?

People who live in U.S. cities with low levels of well-being have twice the rate of heart attacks as people who live in healthier America. That’s 5.5% of the population in sicker America versus 2.8% of the population living in healthy America. The first chart illustrates this disparity, taken from the Gallup-Healthways index that examined 190 metropolitan areas in 2012. Based on this study, it’s good to live in parts of Utah, Nebraska and Colorado, but not so healthy to be a resident in West Virginia, Alabama, and parts of Kentucky and Ohio. Heart disease and diabetes are killing a plurality

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Google, your new-tritionist

Your new-nutritionist is now Google, which launched a nutrition utility through Google Search. “From the basics of potatoes and carrots to more complex dishes like burritos and chow mein, you can simply ask, ‘How much protein is in a banana?’ or ‘How many calories are in an avocado?’ and get your answer right away,” the official Google Search blog explains. Over 1,000 items – fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy items, and prepared meals like Chinese and Mexican take out, as mentioned in Google’s quote above – are searchable via web and mobile, powered by Google’s Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the

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Cost prevents people from seeking preventive health care

3 in 4 Americans say that out-of-pocket costs are the main reason they decide whether or not to seek preventive care, in A Call for Change: How Adopting a Preventive Lifestyle Can Ensure a Healthy Future for More Americans from TeleVox, the communications company, published in June 2013. TeleVox surveyed over 1,015 U.S. adults 18 and over. That’s the snapshot on seeking care externally: but U.S. health consumers aren’t that self-motivated to undertake preventive self-care separate from the health system, either, based on TeleVox’s finding that 49% of people say they routinely exercise, and 52% say they’ve attempted to improve eating habits.

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How mobile phones bring good things to life (and health)

…and I’m not talking about GE here (or here). Most people (75%) still view phone calls as the communication mode that best bolsters their relationships compared with texting (66%), picture messaging (35%), sharing on social networks (31%), emailing (25%), , and video chatting (9%). U.S. Cellular, the mobile phone company, surveyed 527 customers in April 2013 to learn about how wireless communication can bring “Better Moments” to peoples’ lives. In particular, people say that mobile phones help them: Communicate more frequently (77%) Share experiences right away (66%) Share moments that would have otherwise been missed (52%). 9 in 10 people take pictures on

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1 in 3 people is interested in doing mobile health, but they skew younger

The headline for the HarrisInteractive/HealthDay mobile health (mHealth) survey reads, “Lots of Americans Want Health Care Via Their Smartphones.” But underneath that bullish forecast are statistics illustrating that the heaviest users of health care services in America — people 65 and over — have the least interest in mHealth tools. Overall, 37% of U.S. adults are interested in managing health via smartphones or tablets: about 1 in 3 people. As the chart shows, the greatest interest in communicating with doctors via mobile phones and tablets is among people 25-49. Reminders to fill prescription and participate in wellness programs is also

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The emerging economy for consumer health and wellness

The notion of consumers’ greater skin in the game of U.S. health care — and the underlying theory of rational economic men and women that would drive people to greater self-care — permeated the agenda of the 2nd annual Consumer Health & Wellness Innovation Summit, chaired by Lisa Suennen of Psilos Ventures. Lisa kicked off the meeting providing a wellness market landscape, describing the opportunity that is the ‘real’ consumer-driven health care: people getting and staying well, and increasing participation in self-management of chronic conditions. The U.S. health system is transforming, she explained, with payors beginning to look like computer

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Wellness at work – Virgin tells it all

Health, happiness and engagement among employees are closely-linked and drive productivity in the workplace. But there’s a gap between the kind of wellness services employers offer workers to bolster health, and the programs that people actually want. The current state of employer wellness programs is described in a survey conducted by Virgin HealthMiles and Workforce, The Business of Healthy Employees: A Survey of Workplace Health Priorities, published in June 2013. There’s a gap between what workers want for wellness and what employers are offering. Most-demanded by workers are health on-site food choices desired by 79% of employees; but, only 33%

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The health and wellness gap between insured and uninsured people

If you have health insurance, chances are you take several actions to bolster your health such as take vitamins and supplements (which 2 in 3 American adults do), take medications as prescribed (done by 58% of insured people), and tried to improve your eating habits in the past two years (56%). Most people with insurance also say they exercise at least 3 times a week. Fewer people who are uninsured undertake these kinds of health behaviors: across-the-board, uninsured people tend toward healthy behaviors less than those with insurance. This is The Prevention Problem, gleaned from a survey conducted by TeleVox

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Marketing Digital Health to Mom 2.0 on Mother’s Day 2013

Mainstream media, both print and online, peppered their 2013 Mother’s Day gift suggestions including pod coffeemakers, bangle bracelets, candy-colored accessories and digital health devices. Say, what? In Parade magazine, Mother’s Day 2013 gift ideas included the Fitbit “smart pedometer,” linked to a “buy” site at REI. You can’t get much more mainstream than Parade. In Entertainment Weekly, Bronwyn Barnes, style maven for the magazine, wrote a one-page “Get Ready for Mom 2.0” and her recommendations included the Pebble Smartwatch, the Jawbone Up wristband, and the HoodieBuddie with earbuds built into the drawstrings. Men’s Health told sons and husbands to check

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A physical activity shortage: Let’s Move!

Only 1 in 5 Americans got the minimum recommended amount of physical activity in 2011, based on guidelines offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. More men than women met the standard: 23.4% of men versus 17.9% of women. There are wide variations across the 50 states, as the map shows, with the healthiest folks exercise-wise living in the west, Alaska, upper midwest, and New England. The range runs from a 12.7% low in West Virginia and Tennessee to 27.3 at the high end in Colorado. That bar is set at 150 minutes a week (that’s 2.5 hours) of

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Food = Health for employers, hospitals, health plans and consumers

Food is inextricably bound up with health whether we are well or not. Several key area of the Food=Health ecosystem made the news this week which, together, will impact public and personal health. On the employer health benefits front, more media are covering the story on CVS strongly incentivizing employees to drop body mass index (BMI) through behavioral economics-inspired health plan design of a $50 peer month penalty. Michelin, whose bulky advertising icon Bibendum has more than one “spare tire,” introduced a program to combat health issues, including but not limited to BMI and high blood pressure, according to the

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Walgreens Steps with Balance program rewards both consumers and the store

Consumers who patronize Walgreens can get rewarded for tracking their physical activity   For the Steps with Balance program kickoff, self-tracking consumers can earn 20 points for every mile walked or run and 20 points for tracking weight. Walgreens implemented the Walk with Walgreens program in 2012. The program won an Effie Award for an outstanding marketing program. With the success of Walk with Walgreens, the retail pharmacy company has expanded the program beyond simple steps to include weight tracking and health goals for earning loyalty points. The program enables a few of the most popular self-tracking devices to sync so

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An American Nanny State? Most Americans support government tactics addressing lifestyle impacts on chronic disease

  Most people like government policies targeting reducing tobacco use, requiring food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce salt content, and mandating schools to require 45 minutes of daily activity for students. A large majority of Americans (at least 8 in 10 people) support government actions to promote public health that stem chronic disease, from preventing cancer (89%) and heart disease (86%) to helping people control their diabetes (84%) and preventing childhood obesity (81%). A Survey Finds Public Support For Legal Interventions Directed At Health Behavior To Fight Noncommunicable Disease (NCD). This poll, published in the March 2013 issue of Health Affairs, profiles the

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The Sitting Disease: health is growing at SXSW

If it’s March, it must be time for South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual conference weaving music, film and interactive tracks of speakers and conferees that overcrowds and excites Austin, Texas, with a cool vibe and even cooler ideas. I’ll be participating on Sunday 10 March 2013 at 5 pm on a panel, Sitting Will Kill You: Can Mobile Save Us?, featuring Fran Melmed, developer of the HotSeat app that nudges us to all Get Up Offa Our Things when living our typical sedentary lives; Peter Katzmarzyk, public health researcher who knows all about the relationship between too much sitting

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The interoperability of consumer mHealth – reflecting on Jawbone + Massive Health + Visere

Consumers want multiple functions on single devices, smooth transitions from one screen to another, and value-laden experiences in the post-recession economy. I wrote about this phenomenon during the week of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, highlighting Accenture’s survey on consumer attitudes toward technology — the connected home as consumer medical home. In the fast-evolving mobile health (mHealth) era, the consumer-facing suppliers are fast-responding to these customer demands. This is fostering consumer-centered interoperability in mHealth. On the health care system and professional side of health IT, getting to interoperability remains elusive and slow-going, with a customer base (hospitals, physicians) that’s not

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Most women want to be healthy, buy healthy

Health and wellness motivations among women cross all generations, driving them to purchase products that bolster health as they define it…not how media and stereotyping advertising have typically portrayed it, according to a survey report from Anthem Worldwide, What Women Really Want From Health and Wellness. Over all generations, 3 in 4 women say they make choices to benefit their health and wellness. Anthem asked women about the “external voices” of health/wellness messaging versus their “internal voice.” The external represent societal expectations: over 80% of women expect to take responsibility for their family’s health, and about 70% of women say the

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Formally tracking health data changes health behavior and drives social health

Most of us keep track of some aspect of our health. Half of all people who track do so “in their heads,” not on paper, Excel spreadsheet, or via digital platform. Furthermore, 36% update their health tracking data at least once a day; but 16% update at most twice a month, and 9% update less than once monthly. Tracking for Health from the Pew Internet & American Life Project paints a portrait of U.S. adults who, on one hand are quantifying themselves but largely aren’t taking advantage of automated and convenient ways of doing so. Overall, 69% of U.S. adults track

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Battle of the (wrist)Bands at the Digital Health Summit, 2013 CES

One of the fastest-growing segments at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is digital health. And within that segment, there’s a battle brewing for what technology companies seem to think is the most valuable part of real estate on the human body: the wrist. I counted at least fifty products as I cruised aisles 26000-27000 in the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center that had wristbands, usually black, plastic or rubbery, and often able to click in and out of the band for use in-hand, in pocket, or in a few cases, on a

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We are all health deputies in the #digitalhealth era: live from the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show

Reed Tuckson of UnitedHealthGroup was the first panelist to speak at the kickoff of the Digital Health Summit, the fastest-growing aspct of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (#2013CES). Tuckson implored the spillover audience to all, “self-deputize as national service agents in health,” recognizing that technology developers in the room at this show that’s focused on developers building Shiny New Digital Things have much to bring to health. As Andrew Thompson of Proteus Medical (the “invisible pill” company) said, “we can’t bend the health care cost curve; we have to break it.” This pioneering panel was all about offering new-new technologies

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New Year’s Resolutions for health, and the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show

When it comes to taking on personal responsibility, the #1 New Year’s Resolution is to engage in fitness and exercise, cited by 43% of U.S. adults, followed by healthy eating, noted by 37% of people. Other resolutions involving personal responsibility are Family (26%) Spirituality and faith (22%) Managing personal finances (22%. This survey was undertaken as part of Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project (RP), which is taglined: “Explore what it means to do the right thing.” Launched in 2008, Liberty Mutual’s RP has been diving into the many aspects of daily living for which we, each of us, could take responsibility…including

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Food and health: information is not doing the job as the U.S. continues its obesity march

Notwithstanding the fact that most phones on U.S. streets are “smart” ones, most adults surf the net for health information, and most people try to change a health habit each year, Americans haven’t adopted healthier long-term relationships with food. The International Food Information Council has conducted the Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food, Safety, Nutrition & Health poll since 2006, thus enabling us to track peoples’ attitudes and behaviors over the past several years. The latest polling results appear in Is it Time to Rethink Nutrition Communications? A 5-Year Retrospective of Americans’ Attitude toward Food, Nutrition, and Health online in

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From fragmentation and sensors to health care in your pocket – Health 2.0, Day 1

The first day of the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco kicked off with a video illustrating the global reach of the Health 2.0 concept, from NY and Boston to Mumbai, Madrid, London, Tokyo and other points abroad. Technology is making the health world flatter and smarter…and sometimes, increasing problematic fragmentation, which is a theme that kept pinching me through the first day’s discussions and demonstrations. Joe Flowers, health futurist, offered a cogent, crisp forecast in the morning, noting that health care is changing, undergoing fundamental economic changes that change everything about it. These are driving us to what may

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What Jerry the Bear means for Health 2.0

A teddy bear in the arms of a child with diabetes can change health care. At least, Jerry the Bear can. Yesterday kicked off the sixth autumn mega-version of the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Co-founded by Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, a long-time health analyst and physician, respectively, this meeting features new-new tools, apps and devices aimed at improving individual and population health, as well as health processes and workflows for physicians, hospitals, pharma, and other stakeholders in the health care ecosystem – even health lawyers, who met on October 7 to discuss up-to-the-minute  e-health law issues. Yesterday was

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Aging in the US – seniors are health-confident, less financially so

Most seniors look forward to aging in place, and are confident in their ability to do so. Such is the top-line feel-good finding from the National Council on Aging‘s (NCOA) survey, The United States of Aging, sponsored by USA Today and United Healthcare. A majority of seniors have a sense of purpose and plans for their future. Three-fourths of older Americans say staying physically fit through exercise and proactively managing their health is important. However, only 36% of seniors say they exercise or engage in physical activity every day. 11% never do. The most common chronic conditions noted by seniors

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Target gets into the Quantified Self biz: could this be the mainstreaming of self-monitoring?

Target, the beloved retail channel for many design-minded value-conscious consumers, has opted in to mobile health through its purchase of SMARTCOACH mobile health coaching devices. SMARTCOACH is part of a growing category of wearable devices that monitor health behaviors like walking and calories consumed. What differentiates SMARTCOACH is the “coach” element, which provides real-time feedback throughout the day. Most other devices in the market simply track and record data. And it’s feedback loops that more experts say are key to sustaining health behavior change. Target will bring the device into stores for purchase in the fall. Like some other wearable

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What we can learn from centenarians about health

To get to be 100 years or older requires exercise, social connectedness, and good sleep, according to a majority of centennarians polled in UnitedHealthcare’s 100@100 Survey, 2012 Report of Findings. The key findings of this fascinating survey are that: Centenarians have better eating and sleeping habits than Boomers. One-half of centenarians regularly exercise. The most common forms of exercise are walking or hiking, muscle strengthening, gardening, indoor cardio exercise, exercise classes, and yoga/Tai Chi or other mind/body/spirit forms. Social networks bolster health, with most old-old people communicating with family or friends nearly every day And, laughter is a vitamin, with most

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Investments in wellness will grow in 2013, but social health still a novelty for employers

  One-third of employers will increase investments in wellness programs in 2013. Employers look to these programs to reduce health care costs, to create a culture of health, to improve workforce productivity, and to enhance employee engagement. Workers say wellness programs are important in their choice of employer. But while employers and employee chasm agree on that point, there’s a gap between how employers see the programs’ benefits, and how aware (or unaware) employees are. Call this a Wellness Literacy Gap, akin to health literacy and health plan literacy. Over one-half of employers believe employees understand the programs they offer,

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Wellness Ignited! Edelman panel talks about how to build a health culture in the U.S.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the iconic guru of all-things-health, was joined by a panel of health stakeholders at this morning’s Edelman salon discussing Wellness Ignited – Now and Next. Representatives from the American Heart Association, Columbia University, Walgreens, Google, Harvard Business School, and urban media mavens Quincy Jones III and Shawn Ullman, who lead Feel Rich, a health media organization, were joined by Nancy Turett, Edelman’s Chief Strategist of Health & Society, in the mix. Each participant offered a statement about what they do related to health and wellness, encapsulating a trend identified by Jennifer Pfahler, EVP of Edelman. Trend 1: Integrative

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Public health is valued by Americans, but health citizens balance personal responsibility with a Nanny State

While most Americans largely believe in motorcycle helmet laws, seatbelt-wearing mandates, and regulations to reduce sale in packaged foods, most are also concerned about the nation turning into the United States of Nanny. The Harris Interactive/Health Day poll of March 20, 2012, finds a health citizenry “pro” most public and safety regulations, from banning texting while driving to requiring the HPV vaccination (e.g., Gardasil). Specifically, as the chart shows, – 91% of U.S. adults are for banning texting while driving – 86% are for requiring vaccination of young children against mumps, measles, and other diseases – 86% also like to

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Wellness and the global health citizen – carrying our own doctors, inside

Every patient carries her or his doctor inside, said the great Renaissance man, Albert Schweitzer. Based on Euro RSCG Worldwide’s Prosumer Report – My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times, health citizens globally have begun to take on Dr. Schweitzer’s vision. Clement Boisseau of Euro RSCG points out that people, globally, are fairly schizophrenic when it comes to thinking about empowerment over illness: check out the chart for perceptions by condition and disease state. Boisseau says that people perceive health today both in modern terms (such as feeling empowered to control some conditions), and archaic or “magically

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What Inspires and Tires Women When It Comes to Weight – The Fat Trap and the role of exercise

‘Tis the season of weight loss plans, particularly among women, as this NPR story discusses. For the weight loss industry, this first quarter of the new year is akin to Black Friday for retailers the day-after-Thanksgiving. Special K called January 2, 2012, as National Weigh-In Day. To commemorate the event, Kelloggs commissioned a survey among women to find out what “inspires and tires” them when it comes to losing weight. Two-thirds of women in the U.S. started or re-started a weight management plan on January 1st, 2012. Other times of the year when women initiate weight-loss plans are to prep

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