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Prescriptions Are Up, Health Services Utilization Down, and GLP-1s Are a Major Growth Driver: IQVIA’s 2024 Update

In the past year, the growth of prescription drug utilization and spending has much to do with the use of GLP-1 agonists to treat diabetes and obesity, along with immunology therapy, and lipid meds, along with specialty medicines now accounting for over half of spending — up from 49% in 2018. This update comes from The Use of Medicines in the U.S. 2024 from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. The annual report details trends in health services utilization, the use of prescription drugs, patient financing of those costs, the drivers underpinning the medicines spending, and an outlook to 2028.

 

The Self-Prescribing Consumer: DIY Comes to Prescriptions via GLP-1s, the OPill, and Dexcom’s CGM

Three major milestones marked March 2024 which compel us to note the growing role of patients-as-consumers — especially for self-prescribing medicines and medical devices. This wave of self-prescribed healthcare is characterized by three innovations: the Opill, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and Dexcom’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system that’s now available without a prescription. Together, these products reflect a shift in health care empowerment toward patients as consumers with greater autonomy over their health care when the products and services are accessible, affordable, and designed with the end-user central to the value proposition and care flows. Let’s take a look at each

 

While Virtual Care is “Table Stakes” in Health Care, Consumers Are Growing More Protective About Data-Sharing

Three in four people in the U.S. have used virtual care, now, “Table-stakes…here to stay for patients and providers. However, that ubiquity comes with its own set of market pressures…shifting from pandemic-responsiveness to market- and consumer- responsiveness,” according to The new era of consumer engagement, Rock Health’s ninth annual Consumer Adoption Survey published 18 March.            Convenience and waiting time are the top two reasons for choosing virtual over in-person care, Rock Health found. While virtual care is ubiquitous across the U.S. health care delivery landscape, patients-as-health care consumers are becoming more savvy and discriminating based

 

The Economic Contours of the Change Healthcare Cyber Attack: Taking Stock So Far

On February 22, 2024, I went to a CVS Pharmacy-Inside-Target in my community to fill a prescription for benzonatate 200 mg capsules. I had caught a bad case of the flu the week before, and subsequently suffered a very long tail of a cough. That’s TMI for me to write about in the Health Populi blog, but this story has a current-events twist: the pharmacist could not electronically link with my insurance company to transact my payment. He tried a few work-flows, and ended up using a discount card which in the moment worked for us, and I paid the

 

As Food-As-Medicine Gains Momentum, Watch for Dietitians and Pharmacists to Sit at The FaM Table – And A Lesson from George Washington Carver

The food industry, both retail food chains and food suppliers, has found health and nutrition are having a positive impact on their businesses both for margins and for missions, we learn in the latest annual survey on Food Industry Contributions to Health & Well-being, 2024, from FMI. Most retail food channels operate pharmacies, three in five operate clinics in stores, and 2 in 5 of the clinics are health system-owned and operated.             FMI, the Food Industry Association, conducted this industry poll in October 2023 among food retail and supplier members, totaling 36 organizations representing over

 

Nurses Continue to Rank Highest in Ethics and Honesty for Professions in the US — But Peoples’ Opinions for All Jobs, Including Nursing, Have Eroded in Gallup’s Latest Poll

Ratings of honesty and ethics in professions have fallen down in the U.S., we find the Gallup Poll’s annual assessment of rankings for occupations that touch peoples’ lives in America.                     Each year for over a decade, nurses have ranked highest in this survey, representing the most-trusted profession working in America. However, even nurses’ ethic-equity has dropped in the hearts and minds of Americans over the past four years, falling 7 percentage points from a high of 85% of citizens ranking nurses at the greatest level of honesty and ethics to

 

The Health Consumer in 2024 – The Health Populi TrendCast

At the end of each year since I launched the Health Populi blog, I have put my best forecasting hat on to focus on the next year in health and health care. For this round, I’m firmly focused on the key noun in health care, which is the patient – as consumer, as Chief Health Officer of the family, as caregiver, as health citizen. As my brain does when mashing up dozens of data points for a “trendcast” such as this, I’ll start with big picture/macro on the economy to the microeconomics of health care in the family and household,

 

What If We Built a Consumer-Enchanting Health System in the Context of HLTH 2023? Building Blocks for the Scenario

What if….you were given the opportunity to build a health system from scratch in this new era of platforms, cloud computing, AI and machine learning, curious-digital-empowered consumers, and collaborators in retail and community settings operating close to peoples’ homes and workplaces? With the HLTH 2023 Conference meeting up in Vegas these past couple of days, this “what if” scenario can be constructed with announcements coming out of the meeting, coupled with recent developments in the larger health/care ecosystem.             Start with General Catalyst’s news of engaging Dr. Marc Harrison, most recently CEO of Intermountain Health,

 

What Walmart’s Look at Ozempic Users Tells Us About Health/Care Consumers

“We definitely do see a slight change compared to the total population, we do see a slight pullback in overall basket,” the CEO of Walmart US is quoted in Bloomberg. “Just less units, slightly less calories.”                   With patients’ use  GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro fast-rising in the pharmacy market, so are the concerns of companies that stock the-middle-of-the-grocery-store aisles for processed foods like sweet and salty snacks. As the prospects for the drug companies who manufacture prescription drugs made for patients managing diabetes and obesity are on the

 

Food-As-Medicine Grows Its Cred Across the Health/Care and Retail Ecosystem

In the nation’s search for spending smarter on health care, the U.S. could save at least $13 billion a year through deploying medically-tailored meals for people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance programs, according to the True Cost of Food, research published by the Tufts School of Nutrition Science and Policy collaborating with The Rockefeller Foundation.       It’s been one year since the White House convened the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, kicking off the Biden Administration’s national strategy to improve health citizens’ access to healthy food as a matter of public health and economic security.

 

Grocery and Golf Goodness: Food, Fitness, and Fresh Come Together

“Groceries and glutes,” CNN reported in 2019 about a food store combining a gym in the store. While grocery stores have been embedded various fitness options into their brick-and-mortar footprints long before the pandemic, there’s a new riff on fitness at the grocer coming to Augusta, Georgia: grocery and golf. FreshTake, a new grocery store from a family-owned food chain, will open its doors in 2024, located in a Whole Foods location that closed in 2017. In addition to many modern amenities common to new-build suburban grocery locations, FreshTake will also feature a five-hole putting green. Along with outdoor seating,

 

The Doctor Will See You Now…At Home? The AMA Launches a Health at Home Framework

An aging U.S. population with a preference for growing older at home — and a fiscally challenging health care financing outlook — are setting the demographic and financial table for the shift of medical care to peoples’ homes discussed in The State of Health at Home Models: Key Considerations and Opportunities, published by the American Medical Association (AMA).             Note that this framework has been developed by the AMA, the largest professional organization of doctors. While moving health care to the home will involve quite different workflows and disruptions to current general medical practice, it

 

Pharmacy Plays a Growing Role in Consumers’ Health@Retail – J.D. Power’s 2023 Rankings

“Brick-and-mortar pharmacies forge meaningful connections with customers” through conversations between pharmacists and patients, “on a first-name basis.” This quote comes from Christopher Lis, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power who released the company’s annual 2023 U.S. Pharmacy Study today, the 15th year the research has been conducted.                           Each year, J.D. Power gauges U.S. consumers’ views on retail pharmacies in four channels: brick and mortar chain drug stores, brick and mortar mass merchandisers, brick and mortar supermarkets, and mail order. Across all four channels, the

 

GNC Offers “Free Healthcare” — Telehealth, Generic Meds, and Loyalty in the Retail Health Ecosystem

The retail health landscape continues to grow, now with GNC Health offering a new program featuring telehealth and  “curated set” of 40+ generic prescription drugs commonly used in urgent care settings.             The services are available to members of GNC’s new-and-improved loyalty program, GNC PRO Access, which is priced at a fixed fee of $39.99 for one year’s membership. This is available to consumers 18 years of age and older. “As a trusted brand in the health and wellness space, we are thrilled to expand our efforts in helping our customers Live Well by offering

 

To Avert a GLP-1 Cost Tsunami, Add Lifestyle Interventions: Learning from Virta Health

With consumer and prescriber interest in GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs “soaring,” health plan managers have a new source of financial stress and clinical questions on their to-do list. A team of Virta Health leaders held a webinar on 13th July 2023 to explain the results of a study the company just completed assessing health plan execs’ current views on Ozempic and other GLP-1 medicines with a view on both clinical outcomes and cost implications for this growing category of drugs that address diabetes and obesity.             Indeed, diabetes and obesity are top health concerns among the

 

Patients-As-Health Care Payers Define What a Digital Front Door Looks Like

In health care, one of the “gifts” inspired by the coronavirus pandemic was the industry’s fast-pivot and adoption of digital health tools — especially telehealth and more generally the so-called “digital front doors” enabling patients to access medical services and personal work-flows for their care. Two years later, Experian provides a look into The State of Patient Access: 2023.                     You may know the name Experian as one of the largest credit rating agencies for consumer finance in the U.S. You may not know that the company has a significant footprint

 

Getting Health Care at a Retail Pharmacy vs a Retail Store: Consumers May Be Favoring the Pharmacist Versus the Retailer

Not all “retail health” sites are created equal, U.S. consumers seem to be saying in a new study from Wolters Kluwer Health, the company’s second Pharmacy Next: Consumer Care and Cost Trends survey. Specifically, consumers have begun to differentiate between health care delivered at a retail pharmacy versus care offered at a retail store — such as Target or Walmart (both named as sites that offer “health clinics in department stores” in the study press release). While 58% of Americans were likely to visit a local pharmacy as a “first step” when faced with a non-emergency medical situation and 79%

 

Three More Signposts on the Road to Retail Health – Weight Loss Drugs, OTC Birth Control and Fashion-Meets-the-Flu

We continue to track to evolving, expanding landscape of retail health — which we see as the expanding ecosystem of health/care accessible to people-as-health consumers. This week, three intriguing examples are resonating with us: The ever-evolving weight-loss industry FDA favors OTC use for Perrigo’s Opill daily oral contraceptive birth control pill The convergence of fashion and health — specifically, how an over-the-counter medicine converges with clothing that helps us feel better.                   Let’s start with weight-loss, as several aspects of health/care come together in the consumer’s retail health sandbox. Dr. Eric Topol

 

A Public Health Wake-Up Call: Reading Between the Lines in IQVIA’s 2023 Use of Medicines Report

Reviewing the annual 2023 report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science discussing The Use of Medicines in the U.S. is always a detailed, deep, and insightful dive into the state of prescription drugs. It’s a volume speaking volumes on the current picture of prescribed meds, spending and revenues, health care utilization trends, and a forecast looking out to 2027. In my read of this year’s review, I see a flashing light for U.S. health care: “Wake up, public health!” I’ve pulled out a few of the data points that speak to me about population health, prevention and early

 

Enabling better health care, everywhere – my conversation with Microsoft

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to brainstorm omnichannel health care for people to enable better health care for all, anywhere and everywhere, with Team Microsoft. Key opinion leader Molly McCarthy and I covered a lot of ground in this webcast conversation as part of Microsoft’s series of three “Expert  perspectives on trends driving change in healthcare.”             Molly and I covered a lot of ground here, starting with the key forces shaping and accelerating virtual care across the continuum. While these were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, the public health

 

The American Hospital Association Looks at Retail and Tech Health Care Disruptors

Ever since Clayton Christensen explained the concept of disruptive innovation in 1995, health care became one of the poster children emblematic of an industry ripe for disruption. Nearly 30 years later, disrupting health care continues to be a theme which, in 2023, seems open for those slow-moving tectonic driving forces to finally re-form and re-imagine health care delivery. So in today’s Health Populi we turn to a new report, Health Care Disruption 2023 Outlook, part of AHA’s “The Buzz” market scan initiative. The American Hospital Association is taking disruption seriously right here, right now, as the U.S. hospital sector is

 

The Reputation of Pharma Among U.S. Consumers Is Tied More to Pricing Than to Innovation

In the U.S., price and the cost of medicines is tied to how people feel about the pharma industry, evidenced in the Global Pharma Study 2023 from Caliber. Caliber, a reputation and corporate strategy consultancy, fielded survey research among over 17,000 health consumers including U.S. adults between 18 and 75 years of age as well as health citizens living in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK.                 Caliber assessed the reputation of 16 industries, globally, finding that pharma ranked 10th among the 16, just below automotive and just above chemicals (and well

 

Your Grocery Store as Health/Care Destination: Welcome Kroger to the Clinical Trials Community

Our grocery stores were essential touchpoints for us during the COVID-19 lockdown era and thereafter, addressing our basic needs for food and medicines and even social health from early 2020 and since.             Grocery stores have been morphing into health/care destinations for the past decade, in the best cases bolstering nutrition, supporting medication adherence and patient outcomes, and helping us curate healthy grocery carts with nutritionists as part of the store pharmacy team. Now Kroger continues to expand its health/care footprint and capabilities, becoming a clinical trials channel as announced in its January 24th press

 

While Nurses and Doctors Still Rank Highest in Trust, Gallup Finds Trust-Erosion by Party ID

In the annual 2023 Gallup poll on honesty and ethics in professions in the U.S., the good news for the human capital of health care is that nurses, physicians and pharmacists continue to lead Americans’ ratings across professions in first, second, and third place respectively. The bummer is that that trust equity has eroded in the past year — especially among health citizens who identify as Republican voters.                   Start with the upside, which is the perennial Gallup finding that health care’s front-line workers are the most-trusted professions in the U.S. And