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The Growth of Digital Health @Retail

This post was written to support the upcoming meeting of the PCHA, the Personal Connected Health Alliance, to be held 11-14 December 2016 at the Gaylord Hotel in greater Washington, DC. You can follow the events and social content via Twitter using the hashtag #Connect2Health. Have you visited your local Big Box, discount or consumer electronics store lately? You’ll find expanding shelf space for digital health technologies aimed squarely at consumers. 2017 promises even more of them, aimed at helping people accomplish health tasks once  performed in hospitals and by healthcare providers, or tasks not yet delivered in today’s healthcare

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Most Americans Are Trying To Lose Weight: Obesity on the Minds of Americans

60% of Americans are currently trying to lose weight. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when asked, “what’s the most serious health problem in the United States?” Americans say it’s obesity, tied with cancer, and ahead of heart disease and diabetes. Overweight and obesity are top-of-mind for most Americans, according to research conducted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and NORC at the University of Chicago. This research has created two reports which can be accessed at the link. The survey, conducted among 1,509 consumers in August and September 2016, found that Americans’ understanding of

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Retail Clinics Continue to Shape Local Healthcare Markets

Retail clinics are a growing source of primary care for more U.S. health consumers, discussed in a review of retail clinics published by Drug Store News in July 2016. There will be more than 2,800 retail clinics by 2018, according to Accenture’s tea leaves. Two key drivers will bolster retail clinics’ relevance and quality in local health delivery systems: Retail clinics’ ability to forge relationships with legacy health care providers (physicians, hospitals); and, Clinics’ adoption and effective use of information technology that enables data sharing (e.g., to the healthcare provider’s electronic health records system) and data liquidity (that is, securely moving

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Health in America: Improving, But Disparities Need Policy Prescriptions

The bad news: mortality rates haven’t improved much and obesity rates rose in one-third of communities. The good news: public health gains can be made in resource-poor communities with the right health policies, based on research from The Commonwealth Fund, Rising to the Challenge, the Fund’s Scorecard on local health system performance for 2016. The top-line of this benchmark report is that health care in the U.S. has, overall, improved more than it’s declined. Among the big levers driving health care improvement in the past year have been the further expansion of health citizens covered with insurance through the Affordable

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Prescriptions for Food: the New Medicine

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

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

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

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What Health Care Can Learn from the Blood Clot Community

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

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The Link Between Eating and Financial Health

People who more consistently track their calories and food intake are more likely to be fiscally fit than people who do not, suggesting a link between healthy eating and financially wellness. I learned this through a survey conducted in February 2016 among 4,118 people using the Lose It! mobile app, which enables people to track their daily nutrition. Some 25 million people have downloaded Lose It! The app is one of the most consistently-used mobile health tools available in app stores. The Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences has explored the financial impact of improved health behaviors, asserting that,

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What Zero Kilometers Means for Food and Health

Italians get the food=health connection as a natural everyday behavior. So it’s no surprise that one of the fast-selling books in Italy’s librerias is about Slow Food – a movement that’s celebrating its 30th anniversary in that hot book by Carlo Petrini, a father of the Slow Food organization. I took the photograph this evening peering into a shop window during our post-dinner walk along the Via Gucciardini past the Giunti al Punto bookstore. [In full transparency, I’ve been a long-time member of this organization, represented by the little red snail icon.] The book has a three-word title: Buono, Pulito, Giusto. This

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For Health, Viva Italia!

La salute prima de tutto! Health is first of all!  I am on holiday with my favorite person in the world, my husband, and we are Italophiles. He comes by that bias genetically, and I through loving him and sharing so many joyful, enchanting experiences in la Bella Italia over our many years of marriage. The day before flying to Italy, Dr. Michael Painter, Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, posted a link on his Facebook page to this wonderful explanation of why Italy ranks as the second-healthiest country in the world, just after Singapore. The rankings

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The Telephone Is As Digital As It Gets in Mainstream U.S. Health Care

The phone continues to be the platform technology used in this digital age of health care, according to Better Together: High Tech and High Touch, a survey report sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Council of Accountable Physician Practices. Nielsen’s Strategy Health Perspectives project polled 5,014 U.S. adults in June and July 2015 for this study. According to the study sponsors, this is the largest consumer population studied conducted to-date on the topic of digital health use and demand. The first chart illustrates the reality of digital health in the U.S. 2015: that notwithstanding the availability of telehealth,

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U.S. Health At A Glance – Not So Healthy

People in the U.S. have lower life expectancy, a growing alcohol drinking problem, and relatively high hospital inpatient rates for chronic conditions compared with other OECD countries. And, the U.S. spends more on health care as a percent of GDP than any other country in the world. This isn’t new-news, but it confirms that U.S. health citizens aren’t getting a decent ROI on health spending compared with health citizens around the developed world. In the OECD’s latest global look at member countries’ health care performance, Health at a Glance 2015, released today, the U.S. comes out not-so-healthy in the context

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From Pedometers to Premiums in Swiss Health Insurance

A Switzerland-based health insurance company is piloting how members’ activity tracking could play a role in setting premiums. The insurer, CSS, is one of the largest health insurance companies in the country and received a “most trusted general health insurance” brand award in 2015 from Reader’s Digest in Switzerland. The company is conducting the pilot, called the MyStep project, with volunteers from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the Unviersity of St. Gallen. According to an article on the program published in the Swiss newspaper The Local, “the pilot aims to discover to what extend insured people are

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The rise and rise of noncommunicable diseases

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the #1 cause of death in the world. NCDs are the yin to the yang of infectious diseases. Mortality from infectious disease has fallen as national economies have developed, while NCDs such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and other NCDs are a growing burden. Health Affairs devotes its September 2015 issue to The Growing Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases, featuring research focusing both on global trends and U.S.-specific challenges. In their look into the relationships between NCDs, unhealthy lifestyles and country wealth, Thomas Bollyky et. al. note that NCDs aren’t only the “diseases of affluence,”

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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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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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Humana and Weight Watchers Partner in Weight Loss for Employers

More employers are recognizing the link between workers who may be overweight or obese on one hand, and health care costs, employee engagement and productivity on the other. As a result, some companies are adopting wellness programs that focus on weight loss as part of an overall culture of health at the workplace. Humana and Weight Watchers are the latest example of two health brands coming together to address what is one of the toughest behavior changes known to humans: losing weight. Humana will extend access to Weight Watchers for the health plan’s enrollees in an integrated wellness program. The program

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The phone is a gateway drug to health: what MyFitnessPal knows, and what Under Armour gets

65 million people know that food journaling works for losing weight, that it’s engaging to do on a well-designed app, and that health is social. MyFitnessPal (MFP) has the distinction of being a top health app used longer by more people and more effectively than probably any other mobile health tool. Under Armour, the athletic goods company, now has MFP under its corporate umbrella, along with Endomondo, another very popular motivating mobile health tool. You may know Under Armour as a company that manufactures and markets functional workout gear. But this deal is so not about the wearable. It’s about

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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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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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Health-committed consumers look to food to be healthy, wealthy, and wise

There’s an emerging health-committed consumer, one of over 70% of people who believe they’re less healthy than the generations who came before them. 9 in 10 consumers overall believe that what you eat impacts how you feel. Those who are health-committed spend 70% of their grocery budgets on healthy products, read food labels, spend more and shop more frequently than low health-committed consumers, according to Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise, a survey report from Dunnhumby. The number of health-committed consumers globally grew by 38% since 2009. Most consumers look first to themselves to drive health, then to doctors, and third to food companies

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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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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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Practice Fusion joins the open health data community with Insight

Open data is a growing trend in health care. Analyzing data sets across lots and lots of people can help researchers identify medical cures, anticipate epidemics, and solve knotty problems where social and behavioral issues complicate clinical questions and solutions. Joining the open health data community is the health IT company Practice Fusion, which is sharing with the public aggregated data on some 81 million patients collected through over 100,000 active users every month recording patient data in the company’s cloud-based electronic health records system. Insight, the searchable database, is freely available to people, researchers, policymakers, and anyone who wants to look at top line

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Wearable tech + the workplace: driving employee health

Employer wellness programs are growing in the U.S., bundled with consumer-directed plans and health savings accounts. A wellness company’s work with employee groups is demonstrating that workers who adopt mobile health technologies — especially “wearables” coupled with smartphone apps — helps change behavior and drive health outcomes. Results of one such program are summarized in Wearables at Work, a technical brief from Vitality, a joint venture of Humana and Discovery Ltd., published April 23, 2014. Vitality has been working in workplace wellness since 2005, first using pedometers to track workers’ workouts. In 2008, Vitality adopted the Polar heart rate monitor for

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Why a grocery chain supports health data liquidity

The CEO of a family-owned grocery store chain wrote a letter to New York State lawmakers to support $65 million worth of spending on a computer system for health information in the state. That grocer is Danny Wegman, and that project is the Statewide Health Information Network, aka SHIN-NY. In his letter beginning, “Dear New York Legislator,” Wegman identifies several benefits he expects would flow out of the health IT project: 1. Improve health care for all New Yorkers 2. Lower health care costs, through reducing hospital readmission rates and reducing duplicate testing. 3. Lead to health data “liquidity” (my

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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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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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Mars and Venus and the challenges of healthy eating

Americans have been eating more healthfully in the past couple of years, according to the USDA which examined eating patterns among working-age adults in the U.S. between 2005 and 2010. And most people do believe they are indeed healthy eaters: three-quarters of people in the U.S. say they eat healthfully. On the other hand, it’s difficult to do that consistently. Why? Lack of motivation (37%), busy schedules (33%), lots of stress (30%), and money (29%).  Underneath these numbers are differences between women and men. When it comes to food and healthy eating, it seems men are from Mars and women,

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Sleep is the new black – digital health at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show #CES2014

In the battle of wearable devices for digital health at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, it’s sleep that’s the #1 new extension on activity tracking. Sleep, or lack thereof, is a prevalent challenge for people who increasingly live electronic lifestyles on-the-grid. And, lack of sleep is a major health risk for obesity, heart conditions, and mental acuity. A new Swedish study published in the peer-reviewed journal Sleep has found that sleep protects brain health. With the demise of the dedicated sleep device Zeo in 2013, popular sleep trackers with market shares have the opportunity to add sleep functions to their tools.

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Gamification in health – make the person the quarterback

Games are part of peoples’ lives in the 20-teens. Gamification has been used in military and business training and now is a growing method to help change peoples’ behavior across a variety of issues — health, among them. But it’s not all “fun and games” when it comes to succeeding in applying gaming methods in health, according to Gaming to Engage the Healthcare Consumer, a report from ICF International. ICF’s roots are in the defense industry, and the team that wrote this paper together have decades of experience in military applications. These learnings can be quite useful when translated into the

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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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Getting to health engagement will require more than a patient portal

Patient and health engagement is the flavor du jour in health circles these days, from the corridors of hospitals to the caffeinated marketing meetings in Big Pharma’s east coast meet-ups. But there’s no standard agreement on what we mean by peoples’ health engagement, whether by patient or well consumer. In Market Insights: The Evolution of Consumer Engagement in Health Care, Porter Research endeavors to deepen our understanding of this important concept. In the introductory section of the paper, “Understanding Engagement,” Porter proffers that industry – providers, payers and employers – consider engagement as “changing consumer behavior through increased participation in consumers’ own health

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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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Health care and survey taking at the Big Box Store

Where can you shop the health and beauty aisles, pick up some groceries and a prescription, get a flu vaccine, and weigh in on Obamacare and what digital health tools you like? Why, at one of several thousand retail stores where you can find a SoloHealth kiosk. As of yesterday afternoon, over 32 million encounters were recorded on SoloHealth kiosks, based on an app I saw on the company CEO Bart Foster’s smartphone. Kiosks are locatted around the United States in retailers including Walmart and Sam’s Clubs, along with major grocery chains like Schnuck’s and Publix, and the CVS pharmacy

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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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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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Health and wellness, the economy and the grocery store

Consumers in America are spending more, and especially at the grocery store. Most people say they want to eat healthy — but, although they’re spending more at the food store, one-half of supermarket shoppers say cost is the main obstacle for healthy eating. 2 in 3 U.S. grocery shoppers define health and wellness as being physically fit and active, and over half believe that feeling good about yourself is another facet of health. Not being overweight equals health for about one-half of U.S. shoppers. The Why? Behind the Buy, from Acosta Sales & Marketing, explores buying patterns among U.S. consumers

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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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Americans’ health not keeping up with the world: why to spend more on social determinants of health

The American health infrastructure is not First World or First Rate, based on the outcomes. This, despite spending more on health care per-person than any country on the planet. Two seminal reports are out this week reminding Americans that our return-on-investment in health spending is poor. The first research comes from JAMA titled  The State of US Health, 1990-2010:  Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors. There is some good news in this report at the top line: that life expectancy for Americans increased in the two decades from 75.2 years to 78.2 years. But this positive quantitative outcome comes with

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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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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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Dietitians provide a health bridge between food and pharmacy

The registered dietitian is an in-demand labor resource for grocery stores around the U.S. Advertising Age covered the phenomenon of the growing clout of dietitians in food chains (April 14, 2013). Let’s dig further into this phenomenon through the Health Populi lens on healthcareDIY and peoples’ ability to bend their personal health care cost curves. Stores such as Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Safeway and Wegmans are morphing into wellness destinations, with pharmacies and natural food aisles taking up valuable square footage to meet consumers’ growing demands for healthy choices. Some stores are formalizing their approach to food = health by formulating a

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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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The Rationale for CVS “Sticking” (vs. “Carroting”) It To Employees for Wellness

The Boston Herald was one of the first newspapers talking about CVS requiring workers to disclose personal health information…”or pay a $600 a year fine,” as the LA Times succinctly put the situation. The story is that CVS Caremark, the pharmacy and Rx benefits management company, is implementing a health screening program to measure height, weight, body fat, and blood pressure. These metrics are commonly collected in the process known as health risk appraisals (HRAs), which most large employers have begun to implement to help employees prevent the onset of chronic disease (think: “metabolic syndrome,” diabetes combined with overweight, for

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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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Gettin’ higi with it: Lupe Fiasco’s foray into public health

The latest in SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile) Health is a gamified tool coupled with a hardware kiosk, known as higi. The brainchild of Michael Ferro, a successful dotcom entrepreneur who now owns the Chicago Sun-Times, higi’s mission is to help people – particularly younger peeps – to take better care of themselves by scoring points and, as a result, social connections. Higi’s an African word for origin, so the health tool has some aspects relating to being in a tribe — a kind of health tribe. It also has a fun sound to it, Ferro noted, which sets the vibe

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Health at SXSW13 vs. HIMSS13: the Yin, the Yang, and the Blur

I endured what very few people could (or would) do in the past ten days: I traveled to New Orleans to the annual conference of HIMSS, the Health Information Management Systems Society, which features hundreds of suppliers to the health care information technology industry. I returned home to kiss my family hello and goodbye, and a day later flew to Austin for the annual South-by-Southwest conference for music, movie and digital folks. The health track at SXSW has grown over the past five years, and provides a start contrast to “health care” as embodied at HIMSS, and “health” translated through

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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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Bill Clinton’s public health, cost-bending message thrills health IT folks at HIMSS

In 2010, the folks who supported health care reform were massacred by the polls, Bill Clinton told a rapt audience of thousands at HIMSS13 yesterday. In 2012, the folks who were against health care reform were similarly rejected. President Clinton gave the keynote speech at the annual HIMSS conference on March 6, 2013, and by the spillover, standing-room-only crowd in the largest hall at the New Orleans Convention Center, Clinton was a rock star. Proof: with still nearly an hour to go before his 1 pm speech, the auditorium was already full with only a few seats left in the

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Lower calories are good business

The restaurant chain business employs 10% of U.S. workers and accounts for $660 bn worth of the national economy. Where restaurant chains are growing fastest is in serving up lower-calorie meals, and it’s been a boon to the bottom-line. The case for lower calories leading to better business is made in Lower-Calorie Foods: It’s Just Good Business from the Hudson Institute‘s Obesity Solutions Initiative, published February 2013. In the report, researchers analyzed nitty-gritty restaurant chain data on servings and traffic from 2006-2011 to sort out whether sales of so-called lower-calorie menu items in 21 chains led to improved business. The chains

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Dark chocolate as health food – a healthy salute to Valentine’s Day

On a recent Whole Living segment on Martha Stewart’s Sirius XM radio channel, I learned of the artisan chocolatier, Gnosis. The company, whose name is Greek for “knowledge,” grew out of the kitchen of a holistic health counselor, Vanessa Berg, who began to make nutritionally-infused sweets for her private clientele. Word-of-mouth made its way to a buyer from Whole Foods, who subsequently did a deal with Berg to sell Gnosis goods in some of the company’s stores in New Jersey and New York. Here’s a link to the radio interview. Chocolate is a health food for this company, and for

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Americans are first in un-health: the US health disadvantage

In the U.S., we’ll be the #1 oil producer by 2020. We’re the largest national economy in the world (to be surpassed by China before 2030). And, we’re #1 in terms of the lowest taxes paid as a percentage of national GDP. That’s all heartening news for the time being. But we’re also #1 in what I’ll call “un-health:” in auto accident mortality for adolescents, obesity rates, infant mortality, prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, and among other public health metrics. A report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM) calls out what JAMA terms The US Health Disadvantage:

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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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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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The Internet as self-diagnostic tool, and the role of insurance in online health

1 in 3 U.S. adults have enough trust in online health resources that they’ve gone online to diagnose a condition for themselves or a friend. “For one-third of U.S. adults, the Internet is a diagnostic tool,” according to Health Online, the latest survey on online health from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Nearly one-half of these people eventually sought medical attention. One-third did not. Women are more likely to do online medical diagnoses than men do, as do more affluent, college-educated people. When people perceive they’re ‘really’ sick, 70% get information and care from a health professional and

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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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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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Wired health: living by numbers – a review of the event

Wired magazine, longtime evangelist for all-things-tech, has played a growing role in serving up health-tech content over the past several years, especially through the work of Thomas Goetz. This month, Wired featured an informative section on living by numbers — the theme of a new Wired conference held 15-16 October 2012 in New York City. This feels like the week of digital health on the east coast of the U.S.: several major meetings have convened that highlight the role of technology — especially, the Internet, mobile platforms, and Big Data — on health. Among the meetings were the NYeC Digital Health conference, Digital

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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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Right-sizing food and healthcare

In our fast-texting, quick-thinking, Blink-ing society, Jason Riis talks about slowing down our relationship with food. At the Edelman Wellness Ignited meet-up on March 26, 2012, Jason riffed on food  intervention and economics for healthy eating. Jason is a professor at Harvard Business School and among his many research interests is how to change culture to morph away from obesity and Type 2 diabetes toward health. The U.S. is a shopping nation: retail is destination, fun, entertaining, life, for millions of Americans. Jason’s asking what retailers can do about fast and food. This isn’t only about ‘fast food,’ which, of course,

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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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The life-cycle costs of obesity in health and financial terms: the true math

About 50% of women and men in the U.S. are projected to be obese by 2030. The majority of people in America concur that the nation has an obesity problem. What’s been unknown and underestimated is just how much the epidemic is costing the nation in both health and financial terms. On a life-cycle basis, the cost is much greater than previously estimated. Assessing the Economics of Obesity and Obesity Interventions from the Campaign to End Obesity looks at the evidence on the size of the obesity challenge, spending, and interventions available to combat this public health behemoth. “Obesity is not just

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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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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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Connected Health and obesity – will mObesity be able to mitigate the epidemic?

It’s January and the #1 most popular post-New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, get fit, and live well. The signs of this are manifested in ads featuring Janet Jackson promoting Nutrisystem, Jennifer Hudson dueting with her then-and-now selves pitching Weight Watchers, as well as the new Weight Watchers for Men promotion starring Charles Barkley. But there are new signs that losing weight and getting fit are going beyond “diets” and food plans: research shows that moving around and getting exercise can help people sustain hard-earned weight loss more than just changing food intake and “dieting.” So the Apple store

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Make 2012 the year of living health-fully

When I would meet up with clients and friends during the latter half of 2011, people whom I hadn’t seen for months would do a double-take when they saw me. “What have you done?” they have asked. In this first post of 2012, I will share with Health Populi readers my story of 2011 — a year of living health-fully for me. One of the blessings of my work-life is that I have access to some of the great minds in health and health care. But not until I began to personally harness their wisdom, intentionally incorporating what they’ve learned into my own life-flow and

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Food choice and overweight Americans: it’s not just about self-control

Per capita calorie intake has grown by 9 to 30 calories a day since the 1980s. Portion sizes have grown; as a result, so has the level of overweight and obesity in America. By 2020, 83% of men will be overweight or obese in the U.S.; so will 72% of U.S. women, according to Mark Huffman in a paper presented to the American Heart Association meeting in November 2011. “An individual’s decision to eat is not a result of personal weakness, but rather is determined, to a great extent, by the many environmental cues that have emerged since the early

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Workplace wellness: the cost of unhealthy behaviors in the American workforce is $623 per worker

The health status of the American workforce is declining. Every year, unhealthy behaviors of the U.S. workforce cost employers $623 per employee annually, according to the Thomson Reuters Workforce Wellness Index. People point to smoking, obesity and stress as the 3 most important factors impacting health costs. Thomson Reuters and NPR polled over 3,000 Americans on their health behaviors, utilization and costs of health care, publishing their results in a summary, Paying for Unhealthy Behaviors in October 2011. 4 in 5 overall — and 9 in 10 of those with over $50,000 annual income — believe that people with healthy behaviors should receive a

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Why a Foundation and the Federal Reserve are working together to improve health in the U.S.

Health philanthropies are about more than making grants. The Robert Wood Johnson Association, among the largest health philanthropic organizations in the world, is partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) on how community development impacts health — and vice versa. You cannot have a healthy community without focusing on housing, schools, and other neighborhood stakeholders, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey told the conference on Healthy Communities: Building Systems to Integrate Community Development and Health. In this context, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey quoted Robert Kennedy who said, “The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or

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Consumer electronics comes to health care — but don’t overestimate consumer demand just yet

More people with higher levels of concern about their health feel they are in good health, see their doctors regularly for check-ups, take prescription meds “exactly” as instructed, feel they eat right, and prefer lifestyle changes over using medicines. And 40% of these highly-health-concerned people have also used a health technology in the past year. At the other end of the spectrum are people with low levels of health concern: few see the doctor regularly for check-ups, less than one-half take their meds as prescribed by their doctors, only 31% feel they eat right, and only 36% feel they’re in

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Tech fast forward families are ripe for health care self-care

Kids lead their parents in the adoption of  digital technologies; that’s why the youngers are called Digital Natives. An intriguing survey of adults’ use of technologies finds that those who do so like “childlike play,” and at the same time, for kids, make them feel more grown up. The trend, Ogilvy says, is blurring generational lines: market to adults as kids, and kids as adults. This convergence is leading families to become more “units” — parents and kids increasingly on the same page in purchase decisions. In Tech Fast Forward: Plug in to see the brighter side of life, from

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The tough nut of health behavior change: it’s about today, not next week

While women may equally ‘value’ healthy aging in the long-run, it’s their daily quality of life that may motivate them to stick with exercise routines. Simply put, immediate payoffs are more motivating to sustaining behavior change than the long-term promise of “health.” In Rebranding exercise: closing the gap between values and behavior, Michelle Segar and colleagues from the University of Michigan (disclosure: my beloved alma mater) describe the state of women and chronic illness, and the difficulty in sustaining physical activity especially in middle age. “While a number of interventions can help individuals successfully initiate an exercise program, most interventions have failed

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Brand “Health:” where is it in the Top 100 most valuable brands?

Apple has supplanted Google as the world’s #1 most valuable brand, worth more brand-wise than Microsoft and Coca-Cola combined (#5 and #6). the other most valuable global brands are IBM, McDonalds, AT&T, Marlboro, China Mobile, and GE. Technology brands have significantly grown in value with consumers allocating more personal disposable income to products like tablet computers and smartphones, even in the face of recessionary economics the world over. Technology companies are now 1/3 of the top 100 brands. Millward Brown, the brand consultancy that is part of WPP, the global communications firm, has conducted the BrandZ top 100 most valuable

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Wellness is the new health benefit (a double entendre)

Wellness and disease prevention were the meta-themes at Health 2.0’s Spring Fling held earlier this week in San Diego. where the discussions, technology demonstrations, and keynote speakers were all-health (as opposed to health care), all-the-time. Dr. Dean Ornish told the attendees in the standing-room-only ballroom space that the joy of living is a greater motivator than the fear of death. And the 1.0 version of managing health risks has been more the latter than the former. As a result, Ornish’s two decades of research have shown that health is more a function of lifestyle choices than it is drugs and surgery. In fact, people have

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How an EHR can help manage population health

There’s a lot of chatter about Meaningful Use in the context of electronic health records adoption; if you Googled the term today you’d find millions of references to the concept. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’s website offers three main components of Meaningful Use as specified in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: – The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing – The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care – The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other

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Health is a growing business for Nestlé

Their website now talks about it being the “Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company.” Most of us still think of it as the biggest food company in the world. It’s spending one-half billion dollars to expand in health. Nestlé, which brings baby food, bottled water, bars of chocolate and breakfast cereal to kitchen tables is now bringing us Health. The new group will be known as Nestlé Health Science. The company’s existing health business is already valued at about $1.6 billion.  “The combination of health economics, changing demographics and advances in health science show that our existing health care systems, which focus on treating

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The Obesity Economy

Most folks living in the U.S. are overweight or obese. In the 20 years between 1987 and 2007, the proportion of overweight people grew from 44% to 63% — and the percentage of obese adults doubled from 13% to 28%. As the chart illustrates, health care costs more than doubled for obese people, as well. This represents health spending on conditions like diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. In How Does Obesity in Adults Affect Spending on Health Care? the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzes the, if you’ll excuse the expression, growth of the nation’s body-mass index (BMI) over time,

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Health reform and healthy food

While the policy wonks and economists and legislators and lobbyists convene to come to “yes” on a coherent approach to health reform for America, there is some (literally) low-hanging fruit that will help the nation bend the health cost curve: it’s healthy eating. Last year, the only two stocks on the Dow Jones Index that moved in a positive direction were Walmart and McDonald’s. Both have received bad raps concerning their role in the nation’s diabesity. Surprisingly, McDonald’s ended up on Health magazine’s list of the Top 10 America’s Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants this week. With 14,000 locations, this chain

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