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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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Accountable Care Will Happen Best When Patients Engage

Technology alone won’t improve health care in America, especially in people with chronic health problems don’t want to use it. Furthermore, too many clinicians who have invested in digital health technologies (namely, electronic health records systems), aren’t fully taking advantage of what they have. This and other health care realities are explored in Better Together: Patient Expectations and the Accountability Gap, based on a consumer survey conducted by Nielsen Strategic Health Perspectives for the Council of Accountable Physician Practices, an affiliate of the American Medical Group Foundation. The survey polled 30,007 consumers in March 2016, and combined physician data culled from Nielsen’s

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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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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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The Health Disparities of Being Gay

#PrayForOrlando The club Pulse, site of the biggest mass gun shooting in U.S. history, was named to honor one of the co-owner’s brothers, who succumbed to AIDS in 1991. In today’s Health Populi, I soberly ponder the lost lives in the Orlando massacre of people who joyfully convened in a safe haven to celebrate life, liberty, and their pursuits of happiness. Over fifty people ended up dead, and there will be more mortalities as the health workers at Orlando Regional Medical Center continue to fight the post-trauma battle to save gunned-down lives. We define “health” broadly in Health Populi and

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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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Connecting Mental Health Spending to Job Creation in the U.S.

Heart disease and cancer may be the top killers of people who live in the U.S., but the top health spending line item was for mental disorders: $201 billion in 2013. The chart explains a critical aspect of the spending in that top green portion of the bar: the turquoise segment was for spending on “civilian noninstitutionalized” people, and the green was for “institutionalized and active-duty military.” Mental health issues account, by far, for the largest medical spending in a single condition as shown by the top green bar segment in the chart. These insights come from the Commerce Department’s Bureau

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One in Two People Use Wearable Tech in 2016

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

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GoHealthEvents, An Online Source For Consumer Retail Health Opportunities

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

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Withings Inside: Nokia’s Digital Health Vision

The first health news I read this morning in my Google Alerts was a press release explaining that Nokia planned to acquire Withings for EU170 (about $190mm). As an early adopter and devoted user of the Withings Smart Body Analyzer, I took this news quite personally. “What will Nokia be doing with my beloved Withings?” I asked myself via Twitter early this morning. As if on cue, a public relations pro with whom I’ve been collegial for many years contacted me to see if I’d like to talk with the Founder and CEO of Withings, Cédric Hutchings, and Ramzi Haidamus,

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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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Digitizing Self-Healthcare with Google, Pfizer, Under Armour, Walgreens and WebMD

How can digital technologies enable self-healthcare in novel ways? This was the theme of a meeting sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and hosted by Google, with the title, “Advancing Consumer Health through New Technology and Next Generation OTC Healthcare” held on 12th April 2016 at Google offices in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Pharmaceutical brand drugs switching to over-the-counter packaged goods, the Cellscope Otoscope used by parents checking their young children’s earaches, connected shoes and earbuds for athletic enhancement, and omni-channel retail shopping….these are a few of the signals we see emerging to enable consumers’ to drive healthy behaviors, wellness and self-healthcare. Speakers

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

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

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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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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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Being a Woman is a Social Determinant of Health – Happyish International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. Being a woman is a social determinant of health (for the worse). To mark the occasion of the Day, The International Labour Organization (ILO) published a report on women and work yesterday, finding that in the 178 countries studied, inequality between women and men persists across labor markets. And while there’s been progress in women’s education over the past twenty years, this hasn’t resulted in women advancing career paths and wage equality. It struck me this morning, reading both (paper versions of) the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times that the latter had two FT-sponsored ads marking

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Health Consumers’ Use of Apps Is Up, Accenture Finds

One in 3 consumers is using mobile apps for health, doubling from 16% in 2014 to 33% in 2016, according to a survey from Accenture released during HIMSS 2016 conference. The proportion of people donning a wearable device for health more than doubled, from 9% to 21% between 2014-15. Part of this response is due to more physicians asking their patients — consumers — to adopt a wearable to track a health or fitness metric. One in 5 consumers said their doctor “prescribed” the use of a wearable, and 76% of these people followed the doctor’s recommendation. Most consumers and

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More Hospitals Connecting for Health: The HIMSS 2016 Connected Health Survey

One in 2 hospitals currently use three or more connected health technologies, according to the 2016 HIMSS Connected Health Survey released today at the annual HIMSS conference. The most commonly used connected health applications cited were: Patient portals, among 58% of providers Apps for patient education and engagement 48% Remote health monitoring, 37% Telehealth via fee-for-service, 34% SMS texting, 33% Patient-generated data, 32% Telehealth via concierge, 26%. 47% of health care providers plan to expand use of connected health technologies, especially for telehealth via concierge, patient-generated data, and SMS texting. HIMSS worked with the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHA) to

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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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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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Beauty Meets Pharma in Retail Health – At Coin in Florence

All over the world, people define their health and wellness across many dimensions…physical, mental, financial, and appearance. In Florence, Italy, I happened upon a riff on this last component on “look good, feel good” at the Coin Department store located on Via Del Calzaiuoli in central Firenze. Welcome to Coin’s Health&Beauty Store. The two photos tell a story about health, where we live, work, play, and shop, the mantra for public health focused on the social determinants of health beyond healthcare. Here at Coin, adjacent to the holistic brands of Clarins and other luxury labels, is a pharmacy along with

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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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My Body, My Self – With My Physician, Say Patients

9 in 10 people in the U.S. believe working with their health clinician as a partner will help them better manage their overall health, according to a survey conducted for The Society for Participatory Medicine. Consumers’ majority call-out for shared decision-making with health care professionals also extends to their self-tracking health data — for example, via activity trackers, digital glucometers for blood sugar, technologies for blood pressure, and food logging apps. 84% of people said that sharing their personal self-tracking health data with clinicians between visits would also help people manage health. That clinician’s involvement is very important to health

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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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Health Consumers Happy With Doctor Visits, But Want More Technology Options

9 in 10 adults in the U.S. have visited a doctor’s office in the past year, and over half of these patients have been very satisfied with the visit; 35% have been “somewhat” satisfied. Being a highly-satisfied patient depends on how old you are: if you’re 70 or older, two-thirds of people are the most satisfied. Millennial or Gen X? Less than half. What underlies patient satisfaction across generations is the fact that younger people tend to compare their health care experience to other retail experiences, like visiting a bank, staying at a hotel, or shopping in a department store.

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Consumers Take Better Preventive Care of Pets Than Themselves, CIGNA Finds

Nine in 10 pet owners know when their dog or cat is due for their shots. Eight in 10 women know the frequency with which they get manicures and pedicures. 80% of men know the mileage between old changes. But only 50% of family health care decision makers know their blood pressure, and only 20% know their biometric numbers like cholesterol and BMI. Americans are great at doing preventive care for their pets and automobiles; but not so much for their own bodies and health, finds the report CIGNA Preventive Care Research, a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers between 25 and

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A Growing Market for DIY Digital Health for Sleep and Pain

Sleeplessness and chronic pain are two epidemics that are mutually-enforcing, as the chart shows. The 2015 Sleep in America Poll found that pain is a key factor in Americans’ “sleep debt:” 21% of people have experienced chronic pain and lose 42 minutes of sleep due to it; 36% have experience acute pain, resulting in 14 minutes of lost sleep each night. People dealing with both conditions project-manage their health in numerous ways, multitasking with over-the-counter meds, prescription drugs (from “lite” to narcotic), meditation, yoga, homeopathic remedies, aural relaxation, Mozart, and more. There are a growing number of digital health tools now

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Retailers will morph into health destinations in 2016

Retailers in the U.S. are morphing into health destinations in 2016. Members of Target’s management team attended the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and shared their perspectives in the company blog. Among the Target teams observations came from the Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Jones, who observed, “A tidal wave of newness is coming to fitness technology and many companies are on the cusp of changing the game. From nutrition and sleep to how you exercise, it’s all going to be measured, linked and tracked. Wearables are here to stay and getting smarter every year.” The Senior Vice President for Hardlines,

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The Consumer Health Electronics Show – Putting People At the Center

As we concluded our panel on The Wizards of Maternal Health kicking off today’s launch of the 2016 Digital Health Summit, co-located with the 2016 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, our diverse team concurred that there’s more than enough “technology” on the convention floor. The challenge now for health is to make connections between the islands of devices, and generate meaningful data and culturally contextual information and support for consumers (patients, caregivers, people) and health providers. Here at the CES, it’s all about the supply side of the equation – for health, that means digital health tools, wearables,

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Live from CES 2016 – The Healthy Connected Life

As he walked across the stage, back-and-forth, the CEO of the Connected Technology Association talked about pacing not to think, but to compete in a Fitbit Challenge at the 2016 CES this morning, live in Las Vegas. Shapiro leads the Consumer Technology Assoociation (CTA), formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association. The Association was re-amed with “Technology” as its middle name, morphing away from Electronics, to recognize the growth of the market away from Radio Shack (metaphorically speaking) toward the Uber-ization of Everything and the Internet of Everyday Things like cars, refrigerators, washing machines, and thermometers. “Intelligence and data are

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The 2016 THINK-Health Health/Care Forecast

It’s time to get the tea leaves out and mash up trends in my world of health, health care, technology, policy and people for 2016. We’ll start with the central player: people, consumers, patients, caregivers all. Health consumerism on the rise.  People – call us patients, consumers, caregivers – will take on even more financial and clinical decision making risk in 2016. Growing penetration of high-deductible and consumer-driven health plans will push (not just nudge) people into the role of health care consumers, and the emerging businesses and programs serving the transparency market for price and quality will gain traction

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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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Connectivity Is A Social Determinant of Health

It’s Christmastime, so I’m thinking about connections. “Connectivity” can be social (offline and online), which is indeed a health factor (see Christakis and Fowler on being Connected). But the kind of connectivity to which I’m referring is broadband, WiFi, the kind most often associated with data plans, cable to the home, and free WiFi at your favorite coffee or fast food joint. That kind of connectivity is also a social determinant of health, and is increasingly becoming so for all people. Yet as peoples’ need for internet connectivity is fast growing, especially for health, home broadband connectivity has reached a

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The Magic of Getting Fit Starring Penn Jillette (With Help From Withings)

Health is where we live, work, play, pray and have fun. And if you’re Penn Jillette, the magician who collaborates with Teller, it took more than sleight of hand or a magic trick to lose 100 pounds — one-third of his body weight. He did it, according to this video, with the help of hard work, and using activity tracking tools from Withings. Unlike many people who quantify themselves for wellness and fitness, Penn did so to avoid having a medical procedure (i.e., the implantation of a stomach sleeve for weight loss) and also to reduce the six meds he

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TIME Sees Lots of Health in the Best Inventions of 2015

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

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The Internet of Healthy Things According to Dr. Kvedar

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

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Activity Wearables on Black Friday 2015 – Doorbusters Abound

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

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Walgreens Extends Telehealth On Your Smartphone

In the U.S., if you walk 3 miles in any direction, there’s a 3 in 4 chance you’ll find yourself in front of a Walgreens pharmacy. The company often says that 75% of people in the America live within 3 miles of a Walgreens storefront. What’s a pharmacy storefront anymore? Both Walgreens and CVS are re-defining that with a dizzying pace of new announcements. The latest for Walgreens: people in 25 states will be able to use the Walgreens app on their smartphones to access physicians virtually. Consumers living in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland,

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

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

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Health consumers’ cost increases far outpace wage growth

American workers are working to pay for health care costs, having traded off wage increases for health premiums, out-of-pocket costs and growing high deductibles. Welcome to the 2015 Employer Health Benefits survey conducted annually by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET). Premiums are growing seven times faster than wages.  The report calculates that high-deductibles for health insurance have grown 67% from 2010 to 2015. In the same period, wages grew a paltry 10%, while the Consumer Price Index rose 9%. The first chart illustrates that growing gap between relatively flat wages and spirally health

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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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From the Magnificent Mile to the Country Mile – Wearable Tech On Main Street

Will fitness tracking take off in middle and rural America? The larger question is whether people really, truly want to engage in health and, if so, how? My colleague and friend Dr. Carol Torgan, who curates the most extensive wearable tech Pinterest board and writes extensively about the subject in her blog Kinetics: From Lab Bench to Park Bench, was struck by my recent blog post, Health, Wearables and the IoT in the Windy City. That weekend I was in Chicago, Carol was visiting a rural region in the state of Virginia and spent time at a county fair. The quintessential

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

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

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Digital health mainstreams at CE Week 2015

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

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Congratulations, Fitbit – what $4.1 bn looks like

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

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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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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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All women are health workers

The spiritual and emotional top the physical in women’s definition of “health,” based on a multi-country survey conducted in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S. The Power of the Purse, a research project sponsored by the Center for Talent Innovation, underscores women’s primary role as Chief Medical Officers in their families and social networks. The research was sponsored by health industry leaders including Aetna, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardinal Health, Eli Lilly and Company, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, MetLife, Pfizer, PwC, Strategy&, Teva, and WPP. The study’s summary infographic is titled How the Healthcare Industry Fails

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Health care costs for a family of four in the U.S. reach $24,671 in 2015

The cost of a PPO for a family of four in America hits $24,671 in 2015, growing 6.3% over 2014’s cost. The growth in health care costs will be driven by high specialty prescription drug costs. The 6.3% growth rate in health costs is a stark increase compared with the twelve month April 2014-March 2015 decline in the Consumer Price Index of -0.1%. Welcome to the 2015 Milliman Medical Index, subtitled “Will the typical American family of four be driving a ‘Cadillac plan’ by 2018?” The MMI gauges the average cost of an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization (PPO) health plan and includes all

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

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

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Capital investments in health IT moving healthcare closer to people

In recent weeks, an enormous amount of money has been raised by organizations using information technology to move health/care to people where they live, work, and play… This prompted one questioner at the recent ANIA annual conference to ask me after my keynote speech on the new health economy, “Is the hospital going the way of the dinosaur?” Before we get to the issue of possible extinction of inpatient care, let’s start with the big picture on digital health investment for the first quarter of 2015. Some $429 mm was raised for digital health in the first quarter of 2015,

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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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John Hancock flips the life insurance policy with wellness and data

When you think about life insurance, images of actuaries churning numbers to construct mortality tables may come to mind. Mortality tables show peoples’ life expectancy based on various demographic characteristics. John Hancock is flipping the idea life insurance to shift it a bit in favor of “life” itself. The company is teaming with Vitality, a long-time provider of wellness tools programs, to create insurance products that incorporate discounts for healthy living. The programs also require people to share their data with the companies to quality for the discounts, which the project’s press release says could amount to $25,000 over the

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Workers at work for the health benefits but absent when it comes to talking costs

As much as the Affordable Care Act is bolstering health insurance rolls for the uninsured, people who have enjoyed health insurance at work continue to highly value that benefit, according to a survey from Benz Communications and Quantum Workplace published April 2015. Based on a national sample of over 2,000 employees surveyed in October 2014 about workplace benefits. The research re-confirms the long-term reality of workers working in America for the health benefit. Benz/Quantum note that 89% of workers say health benefits play a part in remaining on-the-job, and half say the health benefit is a “major” part of remaining

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Doctors who write right: Gawande, Topol and Wachter put people at the center of health/care

There’s a trifecta of books written by three brilliant doctors that, together, provide a roadmap for the 21st century continuum of health care: The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol, MD; The Digital Doctor from Robert Wachter, MD; and, Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. Each book’s take provides a lens, through the eyes of a hands-on healthcare provider, on healthcare delivery today (the good, the warts and all) and solutions based on their unique points-of-view. This triple-review will move, purposefully, from the digitally, technology optimistic “Gutenberg moment” for democratizing medicine per Dr. Topol, to the end-game importance of

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Health is a growth industry at SXSW

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

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

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

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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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Learning from Mr. Spock and Leonard Nimoy about living long and prospering

“Live long and prosper,” Mr. Spock repeated, like a mantra, throughout his life. We say goodbye, on this dimension anyway, to Leonard Nimoy, who passed away today at the age of 83. Star Trek is a staple entertainment — perhaps even a relaxation therapy — in my home. So Mr. Nimoy’s departure from the Planet is indeed a sad event here. In thinking about Spock’s mantra about living well, I am reminded of an interchange between him and Captain Kirk in the Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan. In that film, Spock is severely irradiated while saving the ship, and

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Most people want to go digital for health – especially the un-well

2 in 3 people in the U.S. would use a mobile app to manage their health, especially for diet and nutrition, medication reminders, tracking symptoms, and recording physical activity. The fifth annual Pulse of Online Health survey from Makovsky finds that digital health is blurring into peoples’ everyday lives. We’ve covered previous Makovsky digital health surveys here on Health Populi; last year, we focused on consumers managing risk in digital health platforms, and in 2013, the state of seeking health information online. That most consumers would go beyond health information search to the more engaging pursuit of managing health over

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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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She’s just not that into connecting with you (yet), doctor

Just 1 in 5 health-insured people with a primary care provider use the web to look at their health data, and fewer than 1 in 10 people use digital means to book appointments. Welcome to the 2015 State of the Connected Patient, a survey report from Salesforce conducted by Harris Poll among 2,095 adults in January 2015. Perhaps the title of the analysis should more appropriately be the “2015 State of the Unconnected Patient.” While most patients polled are satisfied with their PCPs and most believe doctors are sharing their health records, people lack digital engagement with their primary care providers.

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Fish oil and yoga are the most-used alternative “medicines”

1 in 3 U.S. adults used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the U.S. in 2012, led by fish oil in the herbal supplements category, and yoga in the services category. While use of complementary products and services in health has remained unchanged at about 34% of Americans using CAM, the adoption of yoga in American life has doubled among adults in the past decade to about 1 in 10 adults doing some form of yoga. The report, the Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S., a National Health Interview Survey conducted for the National Center for

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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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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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Whole (Health) Foods – the next retail clinic?

Long an advocate for consumer-directed health in his company, John Mackey, co-CEO and co-Founder of Whole Foods Market, is talking about expanding the food chain’s footprint in retail health. “Americans are sick of being sick,” Mackey is quoted in “Whole Foods, Half Off,” a story published in Bloomberg on January 29, 2015. Mackey talks about being inspired by Harris Rosen, a CEO in Florida, who has developed a workplace clinic for employees’ health care that drives high quality, good outcomes, and lower costs. Mackey imagines how Whole Foods could do the same, beginning in its hometown in Austin, TX. He

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Health care costs still top financial problems for Americans

“Health care spending grows at lowest-ever rate,” USA Today celebrated in their December 3, 2014 headline. The announcement was drawn from national health spending data gleaned from an annual report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS), which tallied U.S. health spending at $2.9 trillion. From the bird’s-eye view, slowing healthcare cost growth is indeed good news. But from the point-of-view of consumers’ own pockets, health care costs are rising. And, a survey published today by Gallup points to this reality: that people in American say the most important financial problem they face is healthcare costs, tied for first place

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Building the health ecosystem: new bedfellows coming together

2015 is already becoming a year where bedfellows of different stripes are joining together to build a health care ecosystem well beyond hospitals, doctors and health plans. Announcements launched last week at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and coming out this week at the J.P. Morgan Conference in San Francisco, the first two weeks of 2015 reveal that new entrants and legacy health stakeholders are crossing corporate and cultural chasms to (try and) solve challenges that prevent us from getting to that Holy Grail of The Triple Aim: improving health care outcomes, driving down per capita costs,

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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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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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Trend-weaving the 2015 health care trends

‘Tis the season for annual health trendcasting, which is part of my own business model. Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite trend reports for health care in the new year, with my Hot Points in the conclusion, below, summarizing the most salient trends among them. TechCrunch’s Top 5 Healthcare Predictions for 2015: In this succinct forecast, Walmart grows its presence as a health plan, startups get more pharm-funding, hospitals channel peer-to-peer lending, Latinos emerge as a “most-desired” health care segment, and Amazon disrupts the medical supply chain. Experian 2015 Data Breach Forecast: Healthcare security breaches will be

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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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Self-care is the new black in health care

Consumers’ growing health care cost burden is competing with other household spending: basic costs for Americans are eroding what’s left of the traditionally-defined Middle Class. At the front end of health costs is the health insurance premium, the largest single line item for a family. It looks like a big number because it is: Milliman gauged the cost for an employer to cover a family of four in a PPO in the U.S. at around $23K, with the employee bearing an increasing percent of the premium, copays, coinsurance, and a larger deductible this year than last, on average. There are

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Digital and mobile health: can doctors and consumers get on the same wavelength?

There’s growing interest among both consumers and clinicians in people DIY’ing healthcare. Consumers are even keener than their doctors about the self-care concept, PwC’s Health Research Institute has found. Doctors who are already in value-based payment mode — participating in accountable care organizations, at-risk for reimbursement, doing population health — are earlier adopters of digital health tools that enable patients to care for themselves outside of the health care setting. These providers are also working more on care teams, where physicians can work at their ‘highest and best use,’ complemented by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, diabetes educators, and other ancillary

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Women worry about being bag-ladies – the health implications of financial un-wellness

My post, Even Rich Girls Worry About Being Bag Ladies, was published in the Huffington Post this week. In the analysis, I weave the results of several seminal surveys on women, money, and health that have been conducted in the past few months. The bottom-line: even the most affluent women are financially stressed, and that stress is leading women to re-define what it means to be personally successful. When it comes to personal health, financial wellness is part of overall well-being, as defined by women who place being healthy above having money. Avoiding debt is the nuance here, not amassing

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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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PwC on wearables – the health opportunity is huge, but who will pay?

“A wearable future is around the corner,” PwC says. So it’s appropriate the consulting firm’s new report is indeed titled The Wearable Future. Wearable technologies — smartwatches, sensor-laden workout gear, activity tracking wristbands, and Google Glass, among them — are more than individual tracking and information devices. They’re part of a larger ecosystem called The Internet of Things (IoT), which is made of lots of stuff, each ‘thing’ incorporating a sensor that measures something. Those measurements can track virtually everything that someone does throughout the day: beyond the obvious steps taken, hours slept, and GPS coordinates, sensors can sense movement

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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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Joan Rivers lessons for health and wellness: think like a Bee and Laugh

If laughter is the best medicine, Joan Rivers earned an MD in my personal health ecosystem. My parents loved and laughed with her comedy when pioneered stand-up comedy on TV, and I became increasingly intrigued in and impressed by her vitality, her tenacity, and her survival strategies. I also shared a love of her bee pins with my mother-in-law; the pins were created by Joan and her team for QVC, the electronic retailer, with whom Joan forged a profitable and popular line of fashion, jewelry and home decor. The bee, Joan explained, is anatomically and aerodynamically unfit to fly. Yet,

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Inflection point for telehealth in 2014

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

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Employers engaging in health engagement

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

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Blurred lines: health, pharmacy, food and care

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

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Over-the-counter drugs – an asset in the collaborative, DIY health economy

Nations throughout the world are challenged by the cost of health care: from Brazil to China, India to the Philippines, and especially in the U.S., people are morphing into health care consumers. Three categories of health spending in the bulls-eye of countries’ Departments of Health are prescription drugs, and the costs of care in hospitals and doctors’ offices. In the U.S., one tactic for cost containment in health is “switching” certain prescription drugs to over-the-counter products – those deemed to be efficacious and safe for patients to take without seeking treatment from a doctor. Over-the-counter drugs (OTCs) are available every

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Do EHRs “chill” patient disclosures to clinicians?

Patients are concerned about private risks of personal health data, resulting in some patients not disclosing certain information to health providers to protect their perceived EHR privacy and security risks. Peoples’ mixed feelings about sharing personal health information with their providers and EHRs is explored in The double-edged sword of electronic health records: implications for patient disclosure, published in the July 2014 issue of JAMIA, the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). “The perception of the [EHR] technology may elicit non-disclosure as a privacy-protecting behavior,” the authors warn. Celeste Campos-Castillo and Denise Anthony, the paper’s researchers who work in

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Self-care – the role of OTCs for personal health financial management

Make-over your medicine cabinet. That’s a key headline for International Self-Care Day (ISD) on July 24, 2014, an initiative promoting the opportunity for people to take a greater role in their own health care and wellness. Sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), consumer products companies, health advocacy organizations, and legislators including John Barrow (D-GA), a co-sponsor of H.R. 2835 (aka the Restoring Access to Medications Act), the Day talked about the $102 billion savings opportunity generated through people in the U.S. taking on more self-care through using over-the-counter medicines. After the 2008 Recession hit the U.S. economy, industry analysts

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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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How smart do you want your home to be?

Smarter homes can conserve energy, do dirty jobs, and remind you to take your medicine. In doing all these things, smart homes can also collect data about what you do inside every single room of that home. The fast convergence of Wi-Fi and sensors are laying the foundation for the Internet of Things, where objects embedded with sensors do things they’re specially designed to do, and collect information while doing them. This begs the questions: what do you want to know about yourself and your family? How much do you want to know? And, with whom do you want to

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

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

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

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

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The 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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Apple and Google and Samsung, Oh My!

Three of the world’s biggest technology companies – Apple, Google and Samsung — have made big announcements in the world of connected health in the past few weeks. A fourth is positioned to enter the fray. These major announcements illustrate the convergence of consumer technology, health, and wearables, with the potential for Big Data and population health impacts. Among the three tech giants, Samsung announced its consumer health/tech story first, on May 28, 2014, at its Digital Health Initiative meeting. Samsung unveiled the Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions platform, SAMI, along with the Simband prototype wristband that would enable users to

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