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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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Finding Affordable Care In a Deductible World: The Growing Role of Alternative Therapies

Faced with the increasing financial responsibility for healthcare payments, and a desire to manage pain and disease via “natural” approaches, more U.S. consumers are seeking and paying for non-conventional or naturopathic therapies — complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Health and Healing in America, The Harris Poll conducted among U.S. adults, learned that two in three Americans see alternative therapies as safe and effective. 1 in 2 people see alternative therapies as reliable. And most people believe that some of these treatments, like chiropractic and massage therapy, should be reimbursed by health insurance companies. Seven in 10 Americans have used alternative

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Control Drug Costs and Regulate Pharma, Most Older Americans Say

The top reason people in America over 50 don’t fill a prescription is the cost of the drug, according to the AARP 2015 Survey on Prescription Drugs. Eight in 10 people 50+ think the cost of prescription drugs is too high, and 4 in 10 are concerned about their ability to afford their medications. Thus, nearly all people over 50 think it’s important for politicians (especially presidential candidates) to control Rx drug costs. Older consumers are connecting dots between the cost of their medications and direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising: 88% of the 50+ population who have seen or heard drug

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Telehealth Comes of Age at HIMSS 2016

Telehealth will be in the spotlight at HIMSS 2016, the biggest annual conference on health information technology (HIT) that kicks off on 29th February 2016 in Las Vegas – one of the few convention cities that can handle the anticipated crowd of over 50,000 attendees. Some major pre-HIMSS announcements relate to telehealth: American Well, one of the most mature telehealth vendors, is launching a software development kit (SDK) which will enable  The new videoconferencing option can simultaneously connect patients with multiple physicians and specialists, and the SDK is designed to enable users to incorporate telemedicine consults into patient portals and

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51% of Americans Say It’s Government’s Responsibility To Provide Health Insurance

For the first time since 2008, a majority of Americans say government is responsible for ensuring that people have health insurance. The first chart shows the crossing lines between those who see government-assured health insurance in the rising dark green line in 2015, and people who see it as a private sector responsibility. The demographics and sentiments underneath the 51% are important to parse out: people who approve of the Affordable Care Act are over 3x more likely to believe in government sponsoring health insurance versus those who disapprove, 80% compared with 26%. The demographic differences are also striking, detailed

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Health Care Costs Are #1 Pocketbook Issue, and Drug Prices Top the Line Items

Consumers are most concerned about health care costs among their kitchen table issues, above their ability to afford the utility bill, housing, food, or gas and transportation costs. The October 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll finds 4 in 10 Americans finding it difficult to afford health care, including 16% of people earning $90,000 a year or more. Underneath that worrying healthcare cost umbrella are the price of prescription drugs, which the majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all agree need to be “limited” by government regulation. Ensuring that the public have affordable access to high-cost drugs for chronic conditions

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Palliative Care: Getting End of Life Care (W)right

I lost a best friend last week. His memorial service, held this past weekend, was a celebration of his life. And part of that well-lived life was a very conscious planning of his last days. The Economist published its 2015 Quality of Death Index, a data-driven treatise on palliative care, the very week my dear friend Rick died. This gives me the opportunity to discuss palliative care issues with Health Populi readers through The Economist’s lens, and then in the Hot Points below through my personal context of this remarkable man’s end-of-life choices. The Economist ranks 80 countries on several

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Hillary and George at HIMSS15

  George Bush was the keynote speaker yesterday at HIMSS in Chicago at McCormick Place. As expected and appropriate, the Secret Service detail was at-the-ready to ensure the President’s safety and security.  In the morning, members of the press were told by HIMSS’s communications staff that we would be able to watch the speech, live streamed, in the press room, able to cover the event in detail: words have meaning, and many of us were keen to hear how this President, who ushered in the early era of electronic health records, viewed healthcare and information technology then, and now. A fascinating

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The Internet of Things in health care – technology for good in HuffPo

As sensors begin to proliferate our “Things,” from refrigerators to cars, toasters to t-shirt, our health could benefit mightily. Approaching this weekend’s South-by-Southwest Interactive meet-up in Austin, several authors have crowdsourced views on using technology for good in ImpactX, a special section in the Huffington Post sponsored by Cisco. I was asked to develop a view on using technology for good — for health and health care. Here’s my offering: How the Internet of Things Can Bolster Health. The promise of sensor-laden stuff in our lives can work for personal and public health in myriad ways — from perceiving impending epidemics

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Privacy and the Internet of Your Healthy Things – the FTC says less (data) is more

The FTC has weighed in on privacy and security and the Internet of Things (IoT) in a report published on 27th January 2015. When it comes to IoT and devices that connect to the internet, the FTC will focus on Enforcing privacy laws Educating consumers and business on privacy and security for connected devices Participate in multi-stakeholder groups such as the NTIA’s team considering guidelines for facial recognition, and Advocate with other agencies, at the state level, and with courts. The report summarizes input received in a FTC workshop conducted in November 2013 with IoT industry experts, and offers recommendations

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Health and wellness at CES 2015 – trend-weaving the big ideas

Health is where we live, work, play and pray — my and others’ mantra if we want to truly bend (down) the cost curve and improve medical outcomes. If we’re serious about achieving the Triple Aim — improving public health, lowering spending, and enhancing the patient/health consumer experience (which can drive activation and ongoing engagement) — then you see health everywhere at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. With this post, I’ll share with you the major themes I’m seeing at #CES2015 related to health, wellness, and DIYing medical care at home. The meta: from health care to self-care.

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Irrational exuberance in mobile health? Live from the mHealth Summit 2014

Mobile and digital technologies will bend the health care cost curve, drive individual and population health, and solve the nagging challenge of health disparities. Mobile and digital technologies will increase costs to health providers, disrupt work flows and lower clinicians’ productivity, and hit a market bubble. Depending on your lens into mHealth, and what product categories and user segments you’re looking at, all of the above can be true. The plenary session of the 2014 mHeath Summit kicked off with Dr. Harry Leider, Chief Medical Information Officer of Walgreens, who spoke of the pharmacy’s evolving role across the entire continuum of care,

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Live from the 11th annual Connected Health Symposium – Keeping Telehealth Real

Dr. Joseph Kvedar has led the Center for Connected Health for as long as I’ve used the word “telehealth” in my work – over 20 years. After two decades, the Center and other pioneers in connected health have evidence proving the benefits, ROI (“hard” in terms of dollars, and “soft” in terms of patient and physician satisfaction), and technology efficacy for connecting health. The 11th Annual Connected Health Symposium is taking place as I write this post at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, bringing health providers, payers, plans and researchers together to share best practices, learnings and evidence supporting the

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Health info disconnect: most people view accessing online records important, but don’t perceive the need to do so

There’s a health information disconnect among U.S. adults: most people believe online access to their personal health information is important, but three-quarters of people who were offered access to their health data and didn’t do so didn’t perceive the need to. The first two graphs illustrate each of these points. When people do access their online health records, they use their information for a variety of reasons, including monitoring their health (73%), sharing their information with family or care providers (44%), or downloading the data to a mobile device or computer (39%). In this context, note that 1 in 3

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Inflection point for telehealth in 2014

The supply side of telehealth has been readying itself for nearly a decade. The demand side appears to be aligning in 2014 for adoption to grow and sustain (some) solid business models. On the demand side, Towers Watson’s 2014 survey of large employers forecasts growth among companies that will offer telemedicine in 2015. Towers found that 37% of employers planned to offer telemedicine to workers as a lower-cost site of care; 34% more employers were considering telemedicine in 2016 or 2017.  The health benefits adviser calculates that employers could save over $6 billion if industry replaces virtual health consultations with

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Big Data Come to Health Care…With Big Challenges – Health Affairs July 2014

“For Big Data, Big Questions Remain,” an article by Dawn Falk in the July 2014 issue of Health Affairs, captures the theme of the entire journal this month. That’s because, for every opportunity described in each expert’s view, there are also obstacles, challenges, and wild cards that impede the universal scaling of Big Data in the current U.S. healthcare and policy landscape. What is Big Data, anyway? It’s a moving target, Falk says: computing power is getting increasingly powerful (a la Moore’s Law), simpler and cheaper. At the same time, the amount of information applicable to health and health care

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Dialing Dr. Verizon – the telecomms company launches virtual house calls

Expanding its wireless footprint in health care, Verizon, the telecommunications company, announced the start of Verizon Virtual Visits today. The program will be marketed to employers and health plans to enable patients to see doctors at home or when traveling, via Verizon’s wireless network. I spoke with Christine Izui, Verizon’s quality officer, mobile health solution, earlier this week about Virtual Visits. We discussed the market forces that support the growth of telehealth and, in particular, physician visits “anywhere:” There is an under-supply and poor distribution of primary care doctors and certain specialties around the U.S. Employers and health plan sponsors are

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The Season of Healthcare Transparency – Will Your Health Plan Be Your Transparency Partner? – Part 3

Three U.S. health plans cover about 100 million people. Today, those three market-dominant health plans — Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare — announced that they will post health care prices on a website in early 2015. Could this be the tipping point for health care transparency so long overdue? These 3 plans are ranked #1, #4 and #5 in terms of market shares in U.S. health insurance. Together, they will share price data with the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research on U.S. health spending. An important part of the backstory is that the HCCI was

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Your health score: on beyond FICO

Over one dozen scores assessing our personal health are being mashed up, many using our digital data exhaust left on conversations scraped from Facebook and Twitter, via our digital tracking devices from Fitbit and Jawbone, retail shopping receipts, geo-location data created by our mobile phones, and publicly available data bases, along with any number of bits and pieces about ‘us’ we (passively) generate going about our days. Welcome to The Scoring of America: How Secret Consumer Scores Threaten Your Privacy and Your Future. Pam Dixon and Robert Gellman wrote this well-documented report, published April 2, 2014 by The World Privacy Forum.

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23andme & Me

23andme received word from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on November 22, 2013, that they must cease and desist selling the company’s Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS). FDA explained in their Warning Letter, “Most of the intended uses for PGS listed on your website, a list that has grown over time, are medical device uses under section 201(h) of the FD&C Act. Most of these uses have not been classified and thus require premarket approval or de novo classification, as FDA has explained to you on numerous occasions. “Some of the uses for which PGS is intended are

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Health care and costs on front-burner for people in America (again)

This week in America, the concept of “health care consumer” is in a tug-of-war, and those of us trying to behave as such feel bloodied in the skirmish. One side of the tug-of-war is the obvious, post October 1st reality of the sad state of the Health Insurance Exchanges. This has been well covered in mass media, right, left and center. And Americans polled by Gallup last week express their knowledge of that fact — even if they didn’t know what Healthcare.gov was on the 1st of October. The first chart shows that health care is now a front-burner issue

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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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Delaying aging to bend the cost-curve: balancing individual life with societal costs

Can we age more slowly? And if so, what impact would senescence — delaying aging — have on health care costs on the U.S. economy? In addition to reclaiming $7.1 trillion over 50 years, we’d add an additional 2.2 years to life expectancy (with good quality of life). This is the calculation derived in Substantial Health And Economic Returns From Delayed Aging May Warrant A New Focus For Medical Research, published in the October 2013 issue of Health Affairs. The chart graphs changes in Medicare and Medicaid spending in 3 scenarios modeled in the study: when aging is delayed, more people qualify

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For Medtech, Design is the New Plastics (advice to The Graduate)

Return on innovation in medical technology is on the decline. Med tech needed a GPS for its role in the health ecosystem, and lost its way as it focused on a few wrong priorities. In a $349 billion market, there has been much to lose…and will be to gain. The new world for medical technology and how the industry can turn around is the subject of P2C’s report, Medtech companies prepare for an innovation makeover, published in October 2013 by the PwC Health Research Institute (HRI). The problem has been an addiction to incremental improvements on existing products: think about the analog in

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The FDA Has Spoken, and It Will Regulate “Some” mHealth Apps

The FDA has spoken: there are 2 statutory definitions for a mobile health tool as a “medical device” that the Agency says it has regulatory oversight: To be used as an accessory to a regulated medical device, or To transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device. On page 8 of the Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff, you can read the FDA’s expanded definition of a mobile health app as being: “…intended for use in performing a medical device function (i.e. for diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention

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Criticizing health reform has jumped the shark for mainstream Americans

You might see potato and I might see po-tah-to when looking at the Affordable Care Act – health reform — but it’s clear we don’t want to call the whole thing off. (Go to 1:44 seconds in this video to get my drift, thanks to the Gershwin’s). I’m talking about the latest August 2013 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll from Kaiser Family Foundation finds a health citizenry suffering ennui or a form of split personality about health reform: while many Americans don’t believe the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help them, most don’t want Congress to de-fund it, either. Several graphs from

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FDA goes DTP(atient)

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) launched its new website for and about patients, the Patient Network, with the tagline, “Bringing your voice to drug and device approval and safety.” With this move, the FDA moves toward social health, someplace where at least one-third of U.S. consumers already opine, shop, share personal info, crowdsource cures, and support each other on all-matters-health-and-illness. The objective of the Patient Network is, “to help FDA help patients have a bigger voice.” Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the FDA, talks about the concept here. The rationale? “When patients better understand the intricacies of how

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Bending the cost-curve: a proposal from some Old School bipartisans

Strange political bedfellows have come together to draft a formula for dealing with spiraling health care costs in the U.S. iin A Bipartisan Rx for Patient-Centered Care and System-Wide Cost Containment from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). The BPC was founded by Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell. This report also involved Bill Frist, Pete Domenici, and former White House and Congressional Budget Office Director Dr. Alice Rivlin who together work with the Health Care Cost Containment Initiative at the BPC. The essence of the 132-page report is that the U.S. health system is

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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 Accountable Care Community opportunity

“ACOs most assuredly will not…deliver the disruptive innovation that the U.S. health-care system urgently needs,” wrote Clay Christensen, godfather of disruptive innovation, et. al., in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of February18, 2013. In the opinion piece, Christensen and colleagues make the argument that Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as initially conceived won’t address several key underlying forces that keep the U.S. health care industry in stasis: Physicians’ behavior will have to change to drive cost-reduction. Clinicians will need “re-education,” the authors say, adopting evidence-based medicine and operating in lower-cost milieus. Patients’ behavior will have to change. This requires

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Managing the abundance of mHealth apps in the urban flea market

The proliferation of mobile health (mHealth) apps appears to be an abundant cornucopia of “lite” tools that look simple to access and easy to use. But this growing menu of a la carte choices that promise to keep us healthy, track our numbers, and access useful health information can also, in the words of three Dutch health researchers, “drive us crazy.” Why mobile health app overload drives us crazy, and how to restore the sanity, by Lex van Velsen and colleagues, makes the case that the plethora of mHealth apps available in online app stores is a fragmented, disorganized marketplace

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The 3 cliffs of health care

As I prepare remarks to present a talk about health reform and the pharmaceutical market landscape for tomorrow, Election Day, it struck me that the health industry is now facing 3 Cliffs: the patent cliff, the health care cost cliff, and the Fiscal Cliff. The patent cliff represents about $290 billion worth of sales losses to the pharmaceutical industry between 2012 and 2018. The first chart illustrates that dramatic slope downward, with this year, 2012, being the height of patent losses for the industry. EvaluatePharma, a UK consultancy, says that falling revenue for a pharma is usually a precursor to

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Obama would get health-issue voters’ votes

Bob Blendon and his can-do team at the Harvard School of Public Health have done the heavy lifting for us by analyzing 36 telephone polls (that’s “polls,” not “poles”) looking at the role of health reform in the 2012 election cycle. I knew Bob Blendon when I was affiliated for a decade with Institute for the Future, and Blendon was affiliated as well as health politics consultant to the health team. He is the guru on this topic, so when I spotted his article, Understanding Health Care in the 2012 Election in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, I dashed

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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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3 in 5 physicians would quit today if they could

Being a doctor isn’t a happy profession in 2012: 3 in 5 doctors say that, if they could, they’d retire this year. Over three-fourths of physicians are pessimistic about the future of their profession. 84% of doctors feel that the medical profession is in decline. And, over 1 in 3 doctors would choose a different professional if they had it all to do over again. The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of doctors, sent a survey to 630,000 physicians — every physician in the U.S. that’s registered with the AMA’s Physician Master File — in March-June

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Converging for health care: how collaborating is breaking down silos to achieve the Triple Aim

  On Tuesday, 9 July 2012, health industry stakeholders are convening in Philadelphia for the first CONVERGE conference, seeking to ignite conversation across siloed organizations to solve seemingly intractable problems in health care, together. Why “converge?” Because suppliers, providers, payers, health plans, and consumers have been fragmented for far too long based on arcane incentives that cause the U.S. health system to be stuck in a Rube Goldbergian knot of inefficiency, ineffectiveness and fragmentation of access….not to mention cost increases leading us to devote nearly one-fifth of national GDP on health care at a cost of nearly $3 trillion…and going up.

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What the FDA needs to know about Rx health consumers: most Americans see value in pharma-sponsored health social networks

In PwC‘s landmark report, Social Media “Likes” Healthcare, there’s a data point obscured by lots of great information generated by the firm’s survey of 1,060 U.S. adults: that over one-half of people value patient support groups and social networks with other patients that are offered by drug companies. Not surprisingly, U.S. consumers. who are taking on increasing financial responsibility to pay for health care products and services, also highly value discounts and coupons, and access to information that helps them find the “cheapest” medications — both favored by two-thirds of people. The report found, overall, that over one-third of U.S. adults

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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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Addressing chronic illness can help cure the U.S. budget deficit

Chronic illness represents $3 of every $4 of annual health spending in the U.S. That’s about $1.5 trillion. Living Well With Chronic Illness, a report from The Institute of Medicine (IOM), issues a “call for public health action” to address chronic illness through: – Adopting evidence-based interventions for disease prevention – Developing new public policies to promote better living with chronic disease – Building a comprehensive surveillance system that integrates quality of life measures, and – Enhancing collaboration among health ecosystem stakeholders: health care, health, and community non-healthcare services. The IOM recognizes the social determinants that shape peoples’ health status

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The state of health IT in America: thinking about the Bipartisan Policy Center report on health IT

There are few issue areas within the Beltway of Washington, DC, that have enjoyed more support across the political aisle than health care information technology. In 2004, George Bush asserted that every American would/should have an electronic medical record by 2014. Since then, Democrats and Republicans alike have supported the broad concept of wiring the U.S. health information infrastructure. With the injection of ARRA stimulus funds earmarked in the HITECH Act to promote health providers’ adoption of electronic health records, we’re now on the road to Americans getting access to their health information electronically. It won’t be all or even

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The Trust Deficit – what does it mean for health care?

Technology, autos, food and consumer products — two-thirds of people around the globe trust these four industries the most. The least trusted sectors are media, banks and financial services. Welcome to the twelfth annual poll of the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, gauging global citizens’ perspectives on institutions and their trustworthiness. This survey marks the largest decline in trust in government in the 12 years the Barometer has polled peoples’ views. Interestingly, trust in government among US citizens stayed stable. The top-line finds a huge drop in global citizens’ trust in government, with a smaller decline for business. There’s an interplay

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Most Americans like the idea “Big Government” when it comes to food safety

Two-thirds of Americans favor increasing funding to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure food safety in the U.S. Furthermore, 9 in 10 Americans also believe that the Federal government should be responsible for ensuring that food is safe to eat. And, 3 in 4 Americans say if it costs 1 to 3% more money to buy safer foods. they’d be willing to pay for those foods kept safer by the new food safety measures. A poll from the Pew Charitable Trusts, conducted by Hart Research Associates in April and May 2011, finds that when it comes to what Americans eat,

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Verizon expanding into remote and mobile health for senior living – what it means for healthy aging and medical costs

The announcement that Verizon, the telecommunications giant, will partner with Healthsense, a home health monitoring company, indicates that the adoption of telehealth services beyond project pilots and government-funds required to bolster the market is real. Verizon is upgrading the FiOS network, which it will extend to senior housing and assisted living communities that would use Healthsense’s suite of remote health monitoring, personal emergency response systems, wireless nurse call, and wellness monitoring products. The broadband FiOS network is upgradeable to 100 megabits per second, which would enable the bandwidth required by home health technologies that require high performance and reliable network connectivity. These

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Are health innovation and cost-reduction mutually exclusive? Insights from West Wireless’s Health Care Innovation Day DC

Representatives from eight U.S. Federal government agencies, including the FDA and Veterans Administration, among others; health financiers (VCs, angels); health tech start-ups; providers, life science companies, and analysts, attended the Health Care Innovation Day DC sponsored by West Wireless Health Institute on April 28, 2011. The meeting had the tagline, A Discussion with the FDA, setting the stage for a day-long consideration of the role of regulation vis-a-vis health innovation. The $2.5+ trillion question (annual spending on health care in the U.S.) is: can innovation drive making health care “cheaper?” This was the underlying theme of the panel on which I sat

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Consumer engagement with health IT isn’t about technology

Today’s kickoff of the National eHealth Collaborative‘s Consumer Consortium on eHealth convened the most diverse workgroup of over 70 stakeholders with various lenses on consumers and health, rarely seen at similar meetings, as Lygeia Ricciardi (@lygeia) of the Office of the National Coordiantor for Health IT (ONC) in the Department of Health and Human Services, observed. However, although representing every conceivable segment of health consumer stakeholders, from seniors (AARP)  and physicians (MGMA) to people with disabilities (AAPD), women (National Partnership for Women and Families) and people who fall through the health safety net (the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved), there was concurrence

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The most engaged patients want “Social Media Liberación!”

Anyone attending a Health 2.0 or health IT meeting in the past 18 months has (hopefully) been exposed to the force known as  Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Health and Human Services, and his mantra of “Data Liberación.” Data Liberación is the act of freeing data — in this instance, health data — locked within data silos, to be ‘liberated” allowing it to move about so that analysts can learn from it and develop strategies to better manage health for individuals and populations. Now there’s a force advocating for “Social Media Liberación” in Health: health activists, the most engaged patients

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Social networks and life science companies: balancing regulation and risk aversion with opportunity

One in 3 managers in life science companies — including biotech, pharma, medical device and diagnostics firms — have no plans to engage with online social networks, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte. The key reasons for shying away from social networks include lack of guidelines offered by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), concerns about consumer privacy, and low or uncertain return on investment. On the other hand, 41% of life science execs already use social networks, and another 21% plan to do so. There are many benefits for life science companies in using online social networks, including using them for

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The social life of pharmaceutical companies

Exactly one year ago, health care companies, online portals (from Google to health advocacy sites), and advertising agencies serving the health industry convened in Washington, DC, to voice their positions to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) concerning pharmaceutical promotion and social media. It was such a monumental meeting that a tweetstream was initiated at the event that has been ongoing for the past year at #FDASM on Twitter. Why would hundreds of individuals collectively spend thousands of hours airing their arguments, pro and con, on the issue of how pharmaceutical companies promote their products and services online? “The drug industry

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Another source of health care price/waste: the group purchasing organization?

Contrary to popular health economic wisdom, the group purchasing organization (GPO) raises costs for its constituents — hospitals — according to a study by two respected economists, Robert Litan and Hal Singer. Do Group Purchasing Organizations Achieve the Best Prices for Member Hospitals? An Empirical Analysis of Aftermarket Transactions found that hospitals could have saved, on average, 10 percent between 2001 through 2010 when they purchased medical devices aftermarket, when GPOs supposedly negotiated the best price; and, in 2010, the savings for hospitals was as much as 18 percent for purchases. The researchers analyzed 8,100 transactions from the MEMdata database. The authors recommend changing the incentive-payment

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Can health IT transform the U.S. economy? The White House thinks so

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, aka ‘stimulus funds’) is investing $100 billion worth of U.S. taxpayer dollars in projects meant to transform the American economy. $20-some billion of these funds are being earmarked for health information technology, which the White House sees as part of a “platform for private sector innovation” in a report published August 24 2010, The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy Through Innovation. Health IT (HIT) is bucketed with broadband and smart grid technology as planks in this economic-transformational platform. Among these three pillars, compare the $20 billion going to health IT with the $6.9 billion being

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Mobile health and the FDA: what WellDoc’s approval means for mHealth

WellDoc received approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on August 2 2010 to market the company’s DiabetesManager system. This signals the regulator’s openness to mobile health solutions — a market moment that may usher in the new-and-improved era of personal health management. DiabetesManager uses the mobile phone as a platform for patients with Type 2 diabetes to gather, store and communicate personal health data such as blood glucose measurements; these data then feed into WellDoc’s algorithms that communicate personalized health coaching support back to patients in real-time. This process creates a closed-loop system that helps bolster patients’ decisions and behaviors throughout the day. Health

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Running out money in retirement: the role of health costs

1 in 2 Baby Boomers born between 1948 and 1954 planning to retire in the first wave of Boomer retirements is at-risk of running out of money in retirement, according to the EBRI Retirement Readiness Rating. The Rating gauges just how prepared retirees are to finance their lives when they retire. This is defined as the percentage of pre-retirement households at-risk of not having enough money in retirement to pay for basic expenses such as housing, food, shelter, and uninsured health expenses. The net risk is determined as a function of retirement savings such as Social Security, IRAs, pensions, housing equity

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Consumers trust pharma ads on TV more than online

Most consumers give thumbs-up to “fair and balanced” information on risks and benefits delivered in prescription drug ads on TV. But online? Not so much. This finding comes from one of the most highly anticipated surveys in the pharma business, the annual Prevention Magazine consumer survey on direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC). The FDA takes this survey seriously and its results inform FDA approaches to regulation. The 13th annual poll was published on July 15, 2010, titled, Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Drugs. Most consumers find that “fair balance,” which is FDA required for presenting risks and benefits, is indeed “fair and balanced” on broadcast and in magazines. However,

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Meaningful use: mandates, menus and morality

“We are only as good in treating patients as the information we have,” opined Dr. David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology in the Department of Health and Human Services, during yesterday’s launch of the new regulations on the meaningful use (MU) of health information technology. In the health care world, yesterday featured a star-studded line-up (live and via webcast) that ushered in the long-awaited meaningful use regulations that provide the roadmap for the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) for providers, hospitals and doctors alike. Simultaneously, Dr. Blumenthal’s 4-page summary of the reg’s was featured in a tidy, useful article in the New

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On the Tiger Team and the insecurity of health information

Millions of health records for patients in the U.S. have been breached or compromised in the first half of 2010. Here’s a list derived from an ongoing search via Google News Alerts I monitor using the keywords, “health information and breach:” FedEx lost seven CDs of personal health information (PHI) from the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in Bronx, NY, enroute to Siemens Medical Solutions, in March. This information affected 130,495 patients. The FAA believes that PHI for over 3 million U.S. pilots may be at-risk of breaching, according to a report published in June by the US Transportation Department. The FAA’s

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The health supply chain will move closer to the patient

People responsible for managing the health care industry supply chain have always been concerned about regulations and compliance requirements that can negatively impact their ability to manage the materials, technologies, goods and services they need to fulfill their organizations’ medical missions and businesses. Now “health reform” joins regulation as a pain point in the supply chain. UPS, the logistics and transport company, has surveyed executives from pharma, biotech, medical and surgical device companies, to ascertain their current perspectives on the health care supply chain. The results of this study are in the report, UPS 2010 Pain in the (Supply) Chain

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Getting Americans to "right-size" health care: understanding evidence-based medicine

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Employers are worried about health reform

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A confounding, confusing regulatory regime after health reform kicks in

Good luck to stakeholders in navigating the health-regulatory labyrinth once health reform is implementing in the U.S. A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicts, “A number of existing regulators will also have expanded roles as a result of the legislation.” These will be in addition to the new regulators identified by the law, which include but won’t be limited to: CMS Innovation Center Independent Payment Advisory Board Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council Task Forces on Preventive Services and Community Preventive Services Community-based Collaborative Care Network Program Community Living Assistance

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Health cost increases will hit double-digits in 2010 – another reason for real health reform

So much for America’s ability to manage health care costs without health reform: health costs will increase in the double-digits this year, according to Buck Consultants‘ 21st National Health Care Trend Survey. This annual survey monitors medical trend — the factors that drive cost increases. These include inflation, service utilization, technology, adding new programs, changes in service mix, and benefit mandates. The chart illustrates that medical trend varies across plans — but not my much. High-deductible consumer-driven health plans expect growth of 10.4%: hardly a significantly lower rate of growth than for the most open, rich plans (PPO, POS). Buck

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What does a conservative shift in Americans mean for health reform?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 6 July 2009 in Health Economics, Health reform, Health regulation

Four in 10 Americans say they’ve become more conservative in the past 2 years. By a factor of 2:1, more Americans have turned more conservative versus more liberal. The shift for members of all three political parties has been to the right.     This right-shift finding comes from the Gallup Poll of June 14-17, 2009, on annual trends in Americans’ political ideology.   As of June 2009, 40% of Americans call themselves conservative compared to 37% in 2008. This is the highest level of self-described conservativism among Americans since 2004.   Why might this mean for health reform in 2009?

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Only 1 in 10 unemployed people buy into COBRA

Because of high premiums, only 9 percent of unemployed workers have COBRA coverage. Maintaining Health Insurance During a Recession: Likely COBRA Eligibility, a study from The Commonwealth Fund (CMWF), clarifies how COBRA is actually used by unemployed people in the U.S. CMWF calculates that: – Two of three working adults are eligible to buy into COBRA under the 1985 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) if they became unemployed. – Under COBRA, workers pay 4 to 6 times their current premium for health benefits. – Thus, only 9 percent of unemployed workers have COBRA coverage due to the high price

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Universal coverage and controlling costs – health priorities for President Obama

The most important elements of the economic stimulus package for health would be investing in health information technology, providing COBRA funding assistance for recently laid-off workers, and allowing unemployed Americans access to a public health insurance program. In the longer-run, getting to universal coverage while controlling costs and improving quality and efficiency should be the health care reform priorities for President Obama, according to 2 in 3 opinion leaders. These are the results of the 17th Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinoin Leaders Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive. The poll was conducted among 194 health care opinion leaders culled from

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Affordable care and better information: what Americans want from a new-and-improved US health system

Anxiety about health care costs tops American citizens’ concerns about health care in the U.S. Rich, poor, insured or un-, 2 in 3 Americans worry about the affordability of health care in America.   So it follows, then, that among those without health insurance, 57% blame their uninsured state on the fact that they simply cannot afford it, as shown in the table on the right. Beyond this group, 30% of the uninsured cite the employer’s role in health insurance: 14% aren’t employed, 9% have employers who don’t offer coverage, and 7% are “between jobs.”   These findings come from

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Market Justice vs. Social Justice in Health Care – Our National Identity Crisis

An outstanding commentary in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association succinctly traces the history of U.S. health care in the context of “market justice.” Peter Budetti, MD, PhD, who teaches health policy at the University of Oklahoma, observes, “Fragmented and struggling to come to terms with externally imposed pressures, medicine is losing both its political force and moral compass.” Those so-called externally imposed pressures come from stakeholders behaving according to their own self-interest in the health market: employers, physicians, hospitals, suppliers, insurers, public officials, and of course, consumers. Dr. Budetti concludes that, “Market justice may have outlived its

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Health Populi’s Tea Leaves for 2008

I “leave” you for the year with some great, good, and less-than-sanguine expectations for health care in 2008. These are views filtered through my lens on the health care world: the new consumer, health information technology, globalization, politics, and health economics.  Health politics shares the stage with Iraq. Health care is second only to Iraq as the issue that Americans most want the 2008 presidential candidates to talk about, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Several candidates have responded to the public’s interest with significant health care reform proposals. But major health reform – such as universal access

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A new and improved FDA – for 3 cents more

A strong FDA is crucial for the health of our country. The benefits of a robust, progressive Agency are enormous; the risks of a debilitated, under-performing organizaiton are incalculable.   These are the findings of the latest critical analysis of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology prepared for the FDA Science Board, FDA Science and Mission at Risk. FDA Commissioner von Eschenbach requested a hard look at the FDA one year ago, and this report is the sobering culmination of that effort. The Subcommittee included leading members of the scientific community familiar with emerging science, the external marketplace, and the

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Health Care IT by way of Hollywood and Hip-Hop

The double-barreled news of Dennis Quaids’ twins receiving heparin doses 1,000x the prescribed dose while receiving medical treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, coupled with the tragic death of Kanye West’s mother following cosmetic surgery, focuses this health care paparazzi’s lens squarely on the role of information technology in health care. The Cedars-Sinai Chief Medical Officer has termed the Quaid event a “preventable error.” Donda West’s doctor has been described by the likes of People magazine and the Los Angeles Times as a clinician with at least 2 DUI’s and an assortment of malpractice suits — as well as a recommendation

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Hammers, nails and health spending – regional variations in the U.S.

There is more money spent on health care for each citizen of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania than for a citizen in Utah, Arizona or Nevada. In fact, per capita health spending was 59% lower in Utah than Massachusetts in 2004. The latest state-by-state spending variations are highlighted in Health Affairs’ web-exclusive feature. Welcome to the statistical phenomenon in health care known as “regional variation.” The guru-researcher of regional variation is John Wennberg, who has detailed these trends in fhe Dartmouth Atlas.   New regional health spending data were published in Health Affairs, which we health economists and policy wonks eagerly anticipate

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