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The Power of Joy in Health and Medicine – Learning From Dr. Regina Benjamin

Former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin was the first person who quoted to me, “Health isn’t in the doctor’s office. It’s where people live, work, play and pray,” imparting that transformational mantra to me in her 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times. I wrote about that lightbulb moment here in Health Populi. Dr. Benjamin was the 18th Surgeon General, appointed by President Obama in 2009. As “America’s Doctor,” she served a four-year term, her mission focused on health disparities, prevention, rual health, and children’s health. Today, Dr. Benjamin wears many hats: she’s the Times Picayune/NOLA.com professor of medicine at

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Telehealth and Virtual Healthcare Are Mainstreaming

As the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association convenes this week in Orlando, there’s a lot of telehealth news to curate. The topline of it all: virtual healthcare is mainstreaming, with more providers, payors, and patients aligning in support of virtual health care delivery. Three-quarters of providers have some form of basic telemedicine or telehealth in place. One-third of healthcare providers use some flavor of virtual care technology in their workflow, according to research from KPMG and HIMSS Analytics summarized in the first graphic. KPMG sees virtual care options — remote patient monitoring, enhanced portals, and web interactions for patient-provider

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Health Inequity in the United States – A View From Across the Pond

The statistics on the health of people living in America illustrate a divide between have’s and have-not’s. Average life expectancy is lower in the US compared with other wealthy nations: the wealthiest Americans live 10 to 15 years longer than the poorest, according to a landmark article in JAMA from 2016 studying the relationship between income inequality and mortality. See the first chart: this illustrates that people living in the US whose income reaches the top 95th percentile far outlive folks in the bottom 5th percentile of income. I find myself in London, England, this week, across the Pond (that is,

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Connecting the Dots Between Population Health and the Local Economy

U.S. counties with better health have better performing economies. There’s a direct link between healthy people and a healthy economy, where healthier regions enjoy lower unemployment and higher incomes, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index. When compared to counties with a median BCBS Health Index score, counties within the top 10 percent had: A per capita income that’s $3,700 higher than the median 10-year economic growth that’s 3.5% higher An unemployment rate half a point lower. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) worked with Moody’s Analytics (part of the Moody’s financial services company) on this second edition of this

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A New Risk Factor For Mental Health: Climate Change

We make our health across many dimensions: via nutrition, safe physical/built environments, financial wellness, education, and the environment among them. In this last category, the environment, new research finds that climate change has a significant impact on health. The report, Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, was sponsored by the American Psychological Association in conjunction with Climate for Health and ecoAmerica. “Climate change-induced severe weather and other natural disasters have the most immediate effects on mental health in the form of the trauma and shock due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to

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States That Expanded Medicaid Improved Healthcare Access & Patient Outcomes

States that expanded Medicaid since the start of the Affordable Care Act made greater health system access improvements than those States that did not expand Medicaid, according to Aiming Higher: Results from the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance. There’s good news and bad news in this report: on the upside, nearly all states saw health improvements between 2013 and 2015, and in particular, for treatment quality and patient safety. Patient re-admissions to hospitals also fell in many states. But on the downside, premature deaths increased in nearly two-thirds of states, a reversal in the (improving) national mortality

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Your Zip Code Is Your Wellness Address

Geography is destiny, Napoleon is thought to have first said. More recently, the brilliant physician Dr. Abraham Verghese has spoken about “geography as destiny” in his speeches, such as “Two Souls Intertwined,” The Tanner Lecture he delivered at the University of Utah in 2012. Geography is destiny for all of us when it comes to our health and well-being, once again proven by Gallup-Healthways in The State of American Well-Being 2016 Community Well-Being Rankings. The darkest blue circles in the U.S. map indicate the metro areas in the highest-quintile of well-being. The index of well-being is based on five metrics, of consumer self-ranking

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How the Internet of Things Will Support Health at Home

There’s a concept in healthcare called the patient-centered medical home (PCMH). In 2007, the primary care providers’ (PCPs) medical societies (e.g., American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, and the American Osteopathic Association) envisioned the PCMH to be the first touch-point for a health consumer with the health system. As such, the PCMH would be the “medical home” for a consumer, directed by a personal physician who takes responsibility for the ongoing care of patients. For some time, I’ve been evangelizing about our actual homes as our medical (or better put, health) homes. Who better to

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Images of Health, Vitality and Life at #HIMSS17

The plane has left the Orlando airport, and I’m looking back at the past week at the 2017 annual meeting of HIMSS, the annual health IT conference that has been my pleasure and (foot) pain to attend for the past two+ decades (for real). Walking the exhibition floor, I encountered some new flavors of imaging that went way beyond bits and bytes, data and technology. These images spoke to me of health, vitality, and life. I’m sharing them with you here, with no intention of selling you company products or services but simply sharing some images that speak to these

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From EHRecords to EHDelivery: Talking With Dr. Roy Schoenberg of American Well

Telehealth has come of age at HIMSS in 2017. No longer is the concept relegated to footnote or edge-booth status on the conference floor. Instead, telehealth, broadly defined, is now a mainstream concept embraced by healthcare providers, payors and, increasingly, consumers. I spent time brainstorming telehealth with one of the pioneers of modern telehealth in the U.S., Dr. Roy Schoenberg, who co-founded American Well with his brother Ido Schoenberg, in 2007. As such, the company is among the most mature telehealth entities operating in America, delivering live video health visits to millions of health consumers through the American Well telehealth

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Healthcare and the Autonomous Car: Setting the Stage for HIMSS17

The autonomous car is a metaphor for healthcare: that’s how my first interview kicking off the  HIMSS marathon began. The annual 2017 HIMSS conference isn’t your father’s or mother’s HIMSS of ten years ago, or even the HIMSS of 2010 — the year that financial incentives for EHR adoption began to stream from the HITECH Act of 2009, motivating thousands of healthcare providers to acquire and meaningfully use digital health records systems. Then, the HIMSS conference floor was abuzz with EHR frenzy. This week, over 43,000 people working at the intersection of healthcare and technology have converged in Orlando, Florida, for

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Digital Technology Is A Bridge To Healthcare Consumers: A HIMSS Preface

  “Digital technology can provide a bridge to the healthcare system via sensors, tools, and trackers for people who are living their lives each day,” I explained to the social media team at Philips, which is morphing as an organization to being all digital health, all-the-time. (Here’s what I learned about Philips and digital health in January 2017 after meeting with Jeroen Tas at the CES in Vegas). Here’s the larger discussion, shared with several of my fellow members of the HIMSS Social Media Ambassador family. I’ll be meeting with Philips’ leadership at HIMSS, the annual health IT conference that

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The Health Disparity of Information Access

Among many health disparities which mar healthcare quality in the United States, there’s another one to add to the list: health and healthcare information access. Access to health care is underpinned in large part on a health consumer’s access to information about available health care services, their location, price, and if the patient is very fortunate to glean, quality. As people take on more responsibility for managing their health care utilization and financing in America, their access to information that is easy-to-find, clear, comprehensive and current is critical to personal and public health outcomes. But consumers are dissatisfied with the

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More Consumers Use Retail Health Clinics for Healthcare Management, Harris Finds

1 in 5 U.S. adults used a retail clinic in 2016. Increasingly, health consumers seek care from retail clinics for more complex healthcare services beyond flu shots and pre-school exams, according to the Harris Poll’s survey, One in Five Adults Turn to Retail Health Clinics for Treatment, Prevention, and More, published January 5, 2017. Additional points the poll revealed are worth attention for public health policy purposes: Twice as many people who identify as LGBT turn to retail clinics than others (35% vs. 18%) Older people frequent retail clinics for flu vaccines more than younger people do More younger men

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Health/Care Data Ecosystems E-merge at CES 2017

Digital health innovations were fast-proliferating at CES 2017. The bad news is there are so many of them, it’s dizzying and fragmented. The good news is that there are emerging health data ecosystems that will streamline consumers’ user experience so that people can derive knowledge, actionable advice and value out of using these tools. Walking miles of aisles in the Sands Convention Center in the first week of January 2017 can be a dizzying prospect, with hype and best-faces-forward in every single exhibitor at the show. In the health segment at CES, there’s a long list of digital tools to

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Dying Younger in America

For the first time since 1993, expanding life expectancy in the United States has reversed, based on the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control, Mortality in the United States, 2015. “The last time U.S. life expectancy at birth declined was in 1993, when it dropped from 75.6 to 75.4, according to World Bank data,” as quoted in the Washington Post. Life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 78.8 years, a slight fall from 2014 at 78.9 years. The larger decline fell among men, from 76.5 to 76.3 years. For women, life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 81.2,

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1 in 3 Americans Still Self-Rations Healthcare

People in the U.S. are much more likely to go without health care they need compared with health citizens in 10 other wealthy countries, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s 2016 international survey. One-third of Americans did not seek care due to costs, including going without recommended care, failing to fill a prescription drug, and/or not seeing a doctor when sick. While this self-rationing proportion of Americans dropped from 37% in 2013, the U.S. still ranks #1 in foregoing necessary healthcare due to cost. “In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adult sin the U.S. are sicker and more

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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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Building the Primary Care Dream Team

“Today’s primary care won’t work tomorrow,” given the shortage of primary care providers (PCPs) and the need to do more in healthcare with fewer resources in the emerging value-based economy. So let’s re-imagine primary care models, PwC asserts, and makes the case in their report, ROI for primary care: Building the dream team. What’s the financial impact of this dream team on healthcare providers? It’s potentially $1.2 million in savings for every 10,000 patients served, PwC calculates. Historically, physicians have been loath to share their work with non-physicians because of how doctors have been paid — on the basis of fee-for-service,

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How Value and Consumerism Will Reshape the $5 Trillion Healthcare Market

Existing healthcare industry players – the stakeholders of hospitals, physicians, pharma/life sciences, medical device manufacturers, and health plans – are operating in a whirlwind of change. While there are many uncertainties in this period of transition, there’s one operational certainty: learn to do more with less payment. That’s due to the growing pursuit of payors paying for value, not on the basis of volume or what’s “done” to a patient in care delivery. At the same time, another force re-shaping healthcare is interest and focus on wellness and health management. Combined with the growing health economic value proposition, wellness and

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The Future of Retail Health in 2027

As consumers gain more financial skin in the game of paying for health care, we look for more retail-like experiences that reflect the Burger King approach to consuming: having it our way. For health are, that means access, convenience, transparency and fair costs, respect for our time, and a clear value proposition for services rendered. That doesn’t happen so much in the legacy health care system — in hospitals and doctors’ offices. It has already begun to happen in retail health settings and, especially, in the changing nature of pharmacies. Retail Health 2027, a special supplement to Drug Store News

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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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Workplace Wellness Goes Holistic, Virgin Pulse Finds

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

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The Promise of the Platform Economy for Health

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

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The State of Health Benefits in 2016: Reallocating the Components

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

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

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

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Digital Health Update from Silicon Valley Bank

Who better than a financial services institution based in Silicon Valley to assess the state of digital health? Few organizations are better situated, geographically and sector-wise, than SVB Analytics, a division of Silicon Valley Bank based in, yes, Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, to pinpoint). The group’s report, Digital Health: Opportunities for Advancing Healthcare, provides an up-to-date landscape on the convergence of healthcare and technology. SVB Analytics defines digital health as “solutions that use digital technology to improve patients’ health outcomes and/or reduce the cost of healthcare.” The report provides context for the digital health market in terms of health care costs,

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Money, Stress and Health: The American Worker’s Trifecta

Financial stress impacts health, relationships, and work productivity and attendance for employees in the U.S. It’s the American worker’s trifecta, a way of life for a growing proportion of people in the U.S. PwC’s 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey for 2016 illustrates the reality of fiscally-challenged working women and men that’s a national epidemic. Some of the signs of the financial un-wellness malaise are that, in 2016: 40% of employees find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month 51% of employees consistently carry balances on their credit cards (with a large increase here among Baby Boomers

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The Hospital of the Future Won’t Be a Hospital At All

In the future, a hospital won’t be a hospital at all, according to 9 in 10 hospital executives who occupy the c-suite polled in Premier’s Spring 2016 Economic Outlook. Among factors impacting their ability to deliver health care, population health and the ACA were the top concerns among one-half of hospital executives. 1 in 4 hospital CxOs think that staffing shortages have the biggest impact on care delivery, and 13% see emerging tech heavily impacting care delivery. Technology is the top area of capital investment planned over the next 12 months, noted by 84% of hospital execs in the survey.

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

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

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Consumers’ Growing Use of New Retail Health “Doors”

In the growing era of consumer-driven health, a growing list of options for receiving care are available to consumers. And people are liking new-new sites of care that are more convenient, cheaper, price-transparent, and digitally-enabled. Think of these new-new sites as “new front doors,” according to Oliver Wyman in their report, The New Front Door to Healthcare is Here. The traditional “doors” to primary and urgent care have been the doctor’s office, hospital ambulatory clinics, and the emergency room. Today, the growing locations for retail clinics and urgent care centers are giving consumers more visible and convenient choices for seeking

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Behavioral Economics in Motion: UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm

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

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The New-New Health Fair – Care Goes Shopping

As consumers’ growing financial skin in the health care game compels them to seek care in lower-cost settings, the pharmacy business recognizes the opportunity to provide healthcare services beyond the core business of filling prescriptions. This month, Drug Store News (DSN) published a special section called Health Event Horizon which profiles several pharmacy companies’ expanding reach into retail health – in particular, re-defining the concept of the “health fair.” A health fair is “an educational and interactive event designed for outreach to provide basic prevention and medical screening to people in the community,” according to the latest Wikipedia definition. But the

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Building Health Bridges — Health:Further Goes Beyond the Disruptive

Most people in the U.S. acknowledge that their richest country in the world has a broken healthcare system, especially when it comes to costs. A handful of think tanks and lawmakers offer fixes for American healthcare. Now there’s a new problem-solver in healthcare town, Health:Further, and they aim to move U.S. health forward by building bridges between stakeholders in the U.S. health ecosystem. My longtime colleague and friend, Andre Blackman of Pulse+Signal, has joined the organization as “Producer.” Here, we’ll learn more from my (JSK) interview with Andre (AB) about the organization, their mission, and plans to go beyond “disruption”

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It’s Good to Be Hawaiian When It Comes to Health – the 2015 States of Well-Being

Where you live in the U.S. is a risk factor for your health. Hawaii, Alaska, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming rank highest on the State of American Well-Being 2015 State Well-Being Rankings, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Well-Being is based on an index of five components that people self-assess: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. See the map: the darker blue the state, the healthier the population perceives itself to be. Note more light blue to the northeast and south, and dark blue in the mountain states, Alaska and Hawaii. Some states have stayed in the top-tier of wellness since 2012: Hawaii

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Diagnosis: Acute Health Care Angst In America

There’s an overall feeling of angst about healthcare in America among both health care consumers and the people who provide care — physicians and administrators. On one thing most healthcare consumers and providers (can agree: that the U.S. health care system is on the wrong track.  Another area of commonality between consumers and providers regards privacy and security of health information: while healthcare providers will continue to increase investments in digital health tools and electronic health records systems, both providers and consumers are concerned about the security of personal health information. In How We View Healthcare in America: Consumer and Provider Perspectives,

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In 2016 Reaching For The Triple Aim Will Drive Health IT Spending

Adoption of telehealth, remote health monitoring, patient engagement platforms, mobile and digital health applications, and the emergence of the Internet of Things in health care will all be bolstered in 2016 based on health care providers’ having to do more with less (money, labor, resources). The value-based healthcare world — the migration of payment “from volume to value” — requires greater investment in information and communications technology that moves care to lower-cost sites, with lower-priced labor (as appropriate), and shifting greater clinical self-care and financial skin-in-the-game to patients. My annual health IT forecast was published yesterday in iHealthBeat, 2016: Technology

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The Internet of Healthy Things According to Dr. Kvedar

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

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Social Determinants Impact Health More Than Health Care

The factors of where people are born, live, work and age — social determinants — shape human health more than health care. Yet in the U.S. much more resource per capita is funneled into healthcare services than into social ones. Beyond Health Care: The Role of Social Determinants in Promoting Health and Health Equity was published by The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured in November 2015, calling attention to the opportunity and wisdom of baking health into all public policy. The social determinants of health (SDOH) include economic stability, the physical environment and neighborhood, education, food, community and

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Physical Healthcare Facilities Can Bolster Health Consumerism

Reluctantly accepting the Affordable Care Act, health executives and their architects now see opportunities for re-imagining the hospital and health care services, according to Healthcare Industry Trends, a publication that’s part of the 2015 Building & Development Leadership Series provided by Mortenson, a construction services firm that’s active with healthcare organizations. Mortenson conducted a survey at the 2015 ASHE Planning, Design, and Construction Summit, the results of which were published in this report. The over 300 respondents included healthcare executives, facilities managers, and healthcare architects. Thus the lens on the data in this survey is through the eyes of physical

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Virtual Visits Would Conserve Primary Care Resources in US Healthcare

By shifting primary care visits by 5 minutes, moving some administrative tasks and self-care duties to patients, the U.S. could conserve billions of dollars which could extend primary care to underserved people and regions, hire more PCPs, and drive quality and patient satisfaction. Accenture’s report, Virtual Health: The Untapped Opportunity to Get the Most out of Healthcare, highlights the $10 bn opportunity which translates into conserving thousands of primary care providers. PCPs are in short supply, so virtual care represents a way to conserve precious primary care resources and re-deploy them to their highest-and-best-use. The analysis looks at three scenarios

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The Tricky Journey From Volume To Value In Health Care – Prelude To Health 2.0

By 2018, 90% of health care delivered to people enrolled in Medicare will be paid-for on the basis of quality, not on the amount of services delivered (that is, volume). But as providers must up their game in that new value-oriented health payment world, they are bound up in work flows and organizational structures built for fee-for-service reimbursement. This changing future is discussed in Healthcare’s alternative payment landscape, PwC’s Healthcare Research Institute report on the volume-to-value shift. PwC notes that health care providers’ ability to adapt to changing payment regimes vary and fall into four categories: traditional, lagging, vanguard and

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Fitbit Means Business When It Comes To Privacy

Fitbit, the company that makes and markets the most popular activity tracker, is getting serious about its users’ personal data. The company  announced that it will enter into HIPAA business associate agreements with employers, health plans, and companies that offer workers the devices and the apps that organize and analyze consumers’ personal data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects patients’ personal health information generated in a doctor’s office, a hospital, lab, and other healthcare entities covered under the law (as such, “covered entities”). However, data generated through activity tracking devices such as Fitbit’s many wearable technologies have

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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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Coverage and price before brand for health plan shoppers

When Americans shop for health insurance (and they do – more, later in the post), they look most for covering major medical expenses, prescription drugs, preventive care, and price. Less important is the brand of the plan, or its high ratings. Valence Health surveyed 524 U.S. consumers in June 2015 to learn how healthcare shoppers feel about health insurance and health reform. The results are published in the report, U.S. Attitudes Toward Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform in August 2015. Key findings in the study were that: Price and coverage come before all other factors in evaluating health plans 73%

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Employers go beyond physical health in 2015, adding financial and stress management

Workplace well-being programs are going beyond physical wellness, incorporating personal stress management and financial management. Nearly one-half of employers offer these programs in 2015. Another one-third will offer stress management in the next one to three years, and another one-fourth will offer financial management to workers, according to Virgin Pulse’s 2015 survey of workplace health priorities, The Busness of Healthy Employees. The survey was published June 1st 2015, kicking off Employee Wellbeing Month, which uses the Twitter hashtag #EWM15. It takes a village to bolster population health and wellness, so Virgin Pulse is collaborating with several partners in this effort

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Nurses are consumers’ trusted partners-in-health

The two most trusted health professionals in the eyes of U.S. consumers are nurses and pharmacists, and both of these health workers will be key partners for people wanting to engage in health/care. That was my introductory message kicking off the annual conference of ANIA, the American Nursing Informatics Association, in Philadelphia on April 24, 2015. Meeting in the City of Brotherly Love gave ANIA the opportunity to theme the meeting a “Declaration of Nursing Informatics,” carrying that theme through the exhibition hall with a Benjamin Franklin lookalike walking the floor availing himself of attendees’ requests for selfie-taking with the

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Health is where we live, work, and shop…at Walgreens

Alex Gourley, President of The Walgreen Company, addressed the capacity crowd at HIMSS15 in Chicago on 13th April 2015, saying his company’s goal is to “make good health easier.” Remember that HIMSS is the “Health Information and Management Systems Society” — in short, the mammoth health IT conference that this year has attracted over 41,000 health computerfolk from around the world. So what’s a nice pharmacy like you, Walgreens, doing in a Place like McCormick amidst 1,200+ health/tech vendors?  If you believe that health is a product of lifstyle behaviors at least as much as health “care” services (what our

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The blurring landscape of digital health: the Health 2.0 team puts it in focus

They’re the team that built a brand with the phrase “Health 2.0” before the world barely recognized v 1.0 in healthcare. This week, those folks that brought you the Health 2.0 Conference unveiled the Market Intel database of over 3,000 companies, trying to make sense out of a very blurry and fast-morphing market landscape. I spoke with Matthew Holt and Kim Krueger of Health 2.0 earlier this week to discuss just what’s in this mine of information, and what they intend to do with it. In full disclosure, I have been a colleague and friend of Matthew Holt since his

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Employers grow wellness programs, and ramp up support for fitness tech

Offering wellness programs is universal among U.S. employers, who roughly divide in half regarding their rationale for doing so: about one-half offer wellness initiatives to invest in and increase worker health engagement, and one-half to control or reduce health care costs. Two-thirds of companies offering wellness will increase their budgets, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP)  report, Workplace Wellness Trends, 2015 survey results. The IFEBP polled 479 employers in October 2014, covering corporate, public, and multi-employer funds in the U.S. and Canada. The statistics discussed in this post refer solely to U.S. organizations included in the study

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Left Swipe Dat – this is how health messaging is done

In our ADHD-addled, over-messaged and noisy world, it’s hard to break through the media clutter and binge-watching to get a health message out. Here’s the way it’s done: an engaging, humorous, impactful and crisp campaign focusing on making smoking so un-sexy and un-cool, you swipe the prospective date off of your Tinder app. Watch and learn, from The Truth. You can follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #LeftSwipeDat. Kudos to the truth® anti-smoking campaign and the creative team who got this blend of message and medium so right. truth® is part of the Legacy project which is funded by the

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Thinking about health disparities on Martin Luther King Day 2015

On this day celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., I post a photo of him in my hometown of Detroit in 1963, giving a preliminary version of the “I Have a Dream” speech he would give two months later in Washington, DC. As I meditate on MLK, I think about health equity. By now, most rational Americans know the score on the nation’s collective health status compared to other developed countries: suffice it to say, We’re Still Not #1. But underneath that statistic is a further sad state of health affairs: that people of color in the U.S. have lower quality of

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

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

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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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Health care costs, access and Ebola – what’s on health care consumers’ minds

The top 3 urgent health problems facing the U.S. are closely tied for first place: affordable health care/health costs, access to health care, and the Ebola virus. While the first two issues ranked #1 and #2 one year ago, Ebola didn’t even register on the list of healthcare stresses in November 2013. Gallup polled U.S. adults on the biggest health issues facing Americans in early November 2014, and 1 in 6 people named Ebola as the nation’s top health problem, ahead of obesity, cancer, as well as health costs and insurance coverage. Gallup points out that at the time of

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Walgreens+WebMD: reinventing retail pharmacy

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

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Health on the 2014 Gartner Hype Cycle

Remote health monitoring is in the Trough of Disillusionment. Wearables are at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, with Big Data leapfrogging wearables from the 2013 forecast — both descending toward the Disillusionment Trough. Mobile (remote) health monitoring, however, has fallen into that Trough of Disillusionment as RHM has been undergoing reality checks in the health care system especially for monitoring and patient self-management of heart disease (most notably heart failure) and diabetes. Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Gartner Hype Cycle, one of my most-trusted data sources for doing health industry forecasts in my advisory work. Compared with last year’s

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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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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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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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In pursuit of healthiness – Lancet talks US public health

It’s Independence Day week in America, and our British friends at The Lancet, the UK’s grand peer reviewed medical journal, dedicate this week’s issue to the Health of Americans – exploring life, death (mortality), health costs, chronic disease, and the Pursuit of Healthiness. This project is a joint venture between The Lancet and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which took 18 months to foster, called The Health of Americans Series. Americans mostly die from chronic diseases, aka non-communicable diseases, which are largely amenable to lifestyle changes like eating right, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and moving around more. 1 in

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

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

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The business case for getting more social in health

While the U.S. spends more per person on health care than any other country in the world, we get a very low return on that investment. Other countries whose health citizens enjoy significantly better health outcomes spend less on health “care” (beds, technology, doctors’ salaries) and more per capita on social services and supports. There’s growing evidence that social factors impact health, and a business case to be made for spending more on social. The evidence and argument for providers spending more on social needs is explained in the research paper, Addressing Patients’ Social Needs: An Emerging Business Case for

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The new health economy, starring the consumer

“In the New Health Economy, ‘patients’ will be ‘consumers’ first, with both the freedom and responsibility that come with making more decisions and spending their own money.”  This vision of the near-future is brought to you by the New Health Economy, a report from PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI). The chart attests the fact that U.S. “consumers” are already spending nearly $3 trillion (with a capital “T”) on products and services that bolster personal health. This spending includes $94 billion on nutrition, $62 billion on weight loss, $59 billion on sporting goods and apparel, $45 billion on (so-called) organic and

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Affordable medicine: a preferred future

The price of medicines is a barrier for about one billion people on the planet, for citizens in developing countries as well as middle-class families in the richest country in the world, the United States.  Today is World Health Day, when for 24 hours public health advocates (including me) are calling out key issues preventing people from fully living life. One obstacle for too many people is the cost of drugs and supplies that save lives and help people add life to years. For example, bug bites can be deadly if you’re talking about the 50% of the world’s population

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Doctors and mHealth apps: chaos, evidence, creation

Over one year ago, an eClinicalWorks survey found that 9 in 10 physicians would be interested in prescribing a mobile health app to a patient. That’s a big number. That’s “interest,” but that demand hasn’t yet been expressed in the current go-go app-happy environment.  An opinion piece in this week’s Online First edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrates the fork-in-the-road facing clinicians and the disruption/opportunity that is mobile health. In “In Search of a Few Good Apps,” a Boston-based trio of writers (two physicians and one PhD) talk about “the bewildering diversity of apps available

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People want to DIY with pharma

In our increasingly-DIY society, most consumers expect high levels of access and customer service from the organizations with whom we engage. With more consumers reaching into their pockets to pay for health services and products, the health industry is increasingly a retail-facing environment. So expect quality service levels from their healthcare touch points. The pharmaceutical and prescription drug touch point is not exempt from this expectation, as learned by an Accenture survey analyzed in Great Expectations: Why Pharma Companies Can’t Ignore Patient Services. As the first picture shows, 70% of patients think pharma companies are responsible for bundling information and services

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The four futures of health care: simple, guru, ecosystem, self-care

In the not-too-distant future, will our health care be universally available to all, standardized with limited choices? Or, will we be in self-care mode, able to “buy up” if we can afford it like luxury goods? Will health care delivery be totally tech- and information-driven? Or, will care be driven by insurers’ health plans with artful designs that (almost) predetermine our choices? Welcome to four futures of health care, brought to us by PA Consulting whose report, How Can We Stop Healthcare From Bankrupting Our Children? speaks to scenarios based on 2 uncertainties, whether: Health care will be a personal

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