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Older Couples Have Lower Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs Than Older Singles

It takes a couple to bend the health care cost curve when you’re senior in America, according to the EBRI‘s latest study into Differences in Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses of Older Single and Couple Households. In previous research, The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has calculated that health care expenses are the second-largest share of household expenses after home-related costs for older Americans. Health care costs consume about one-third of spending for people 60 years and older according to Credit Suisse. But for singles, health care costs are significantly larger than for couples, EBRI’s analysis found. The average per-person out-of-pocket spending for

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Healthcare Stakeholders’ Kumbaya Moment at Walmart’s Retail Health Summit

Walmart is already in the healthcare business, serving 140 million customer visits weekly, millions of whom fill prescriptions at the store pharmacy, seek personal care in the health and beauty aisles, track blood pressure using a Higi health kiosk, and shop for healthier foods in the grocery aisles. The world’s largest company on the Global Fortune 500 list hosted a Retail Health Summit in June, the details of which have been published in a special report by Drug Store News. The Summit, produced by Dan Mack’s Mack Elevation Forum and Drug Store News, convened stakeholders from across the retail health landscape: including

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Aging America Is Driving Growth in Federal Healthcare Spending

Federal healthcare program costs are the largest component of mandatory spending in the U.S. budget, according to An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026 from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Federal spending for healthcare will increase $77 billion in 2016, about 8% over 2015, for a total of $1.1 trillion. The CBO believes that number overstates the growth in Medicare and Medicaid because of a one-time payment shift of $22 bn to Medicare (from 2017 back into 2016); adjusting for this, CBO sees Federal healthcare spending growing 6% (about $55 bn) this year. The driver

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Health Care Costs in Retirement Will Run $260K If You’re Retiring This Year

If you’re retiring in 2016, you’ll need $260,000 to cover your health care costs during your retirement years. In 2015, that number was $245,000, so retiree health care costs increased 6% in one year according to Fidelity’s Retirement Health Care Cost Estimator. The 6% annual cost increase is exactly what the National Business Group on Health found in their recently published 2017 Health Plan Design Survey polling large employers covering health care, discussed here in Health Populi. The 6% health care cost increases are driven primary by people using more health services and the higher costs for many medicines — specifically, specialty

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U.S. Health Spending Will Comprise 20% of GDP in 2025

Spending on health care in America will comprise $1 in every $5 of gross domestic product in 2025, according to National Health Expenditure Projections, 2015-25: Economy, Prices, And Aging Expected to Shape Spending and Enrollment, featured in the Health Affairs July 2016 issue. Details on national health spending are shown by line item in the table, excerpted from the article. Health spending will grow by 5.8% per year, on average, between 2015 and 2025, based on the calculations by the actuarial team from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), authors of the study. The team noted that the Affordable Care

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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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Costs and Connection At the Core of Consumers’ Health-Value Equations

Cost ranks first among the factors of selecting health insurance for most Americans across the generations. As a result, most consumers are likely to shop around for both health providers and health plans, learned through a 2016 Xerox survey detailed in New Insights on Value-Based Care, Healthcare Attitudes 2016. The younger the consumer, the more important costs are, Xerox’s poll found, shown in the first chart. Thus, “shopping around” is more pronounced among younger health consumers — although a majority people who belong to Boomer and Greatest Generation cohorts do shop around for both health providers and health insurance plans —

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Better Aging Through Technology

There are 85 million people getting older in America, all mindfully working to not go gentle into their good nights — that is, working hard to stay young and well for as long as they can. This is the market for “active aging” technology products, which will be worth nearly $43 billion in 2020, according to a report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the Active Aging Study. CTA and Parks Associates define the active aging technology market in three segments with several categories under each: Safety and smart living, which includes safety monitoring, emergency response (PERS), smart living, and home

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The Growth of Digital Patient Engagement

9 in 10 people in the U.S. use some form of digital technology or electronic tools for health management, Accenture found in the company’s 2016 Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement. Younger people (18-34) tend to favor wearable technology, apps and social media for health. More older people (age 65-74) mine electronic health records (EHRs) for personal health data and more likely use tech for remote consultations with care providers. Overall, the percent of U.S. consumers accessing their EHR data grew by over 50% between 2014 and 2016, from 27% to 45% of people doing so, with older people indexing higher

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Insurance Should Pay For End-of-Life Conversation, Most Patients Say

8 in 10 people in the U.S. say that Medicare as well as private health insurance plans should pay for discussions held between patients and doctors about hatlhcare at the end-of-life. The September 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll asks people their opinions about talking end-of-life with their doctors. The vast majority of people support the concept and physicians being paid for holding such conversations in doctor-patient relationship. The question is germane because the Obama Administration has announced plans to pay doctors for office visits to discuss end-of-life (EOL) issues with Medicare patients. There isn’t a huge variation across

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How Cable TV Can Make Your House Your Medical Home

Taking literally the maxim that health is where we live, work, play and pray, Cox Communications acquired Trapollo, a remote health monitoring company, extending the core business of cable TV into the world of health services to the home. “We believe that the home will be an increasingly important node within the healthcare delivery architecture,” Asheesh Saksena, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Cox Communications, said in the company’s press release. In the past year, Cox Communications entered in a joint venture with the Cleveland Clinic, to form Vivre Health for developing digital health care services. Cox also invested in

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Older People and Activity Tracking: AARP Weighs In

Activity and sleep trackers hold promise for the health and wellbeing of people over 50. But they’ve miles to go before their design and usefulness get props from older people. The AARP’s Project Catalyst report, Building a Better Tracker: Older Consumers Weigh in On Activity and Sleep Monitoring Devices, presents research conducted with Georgia Tech’s Home Lab which gave 92 people a digital wearable to track activity or sleep over a six week period. The second graphic shows the devices used in the study. 3 in 4 of the activity tracking users said their devices were, or had the potential to

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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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How digital ‘everything’ and consumer expectations are re-shaping health care

Two forces are converging to shape a new era of “living services,” Accenture posits: the digitization of “everything” and consumers’ “liquid” expectations — which are demands for personalized, engaging and adaptable experiences. Accenture’s report on this phenomenon, The Era of Living Services, spans the broad range of consumers’ daily lives where these services will impact: homes, families, transportation, shopping, leisure time, jobs, finances, education, cities, and above all for Health Populi readers, “our bodies.” Living services are physically close to us, as Accenture sees them, “wrapping themselves around the everyday things we do.” They are digital services that are aware

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What Mavis Staples taught us about health at SXSW

While I am all health, all-the-time when I’m at the annual South-by-Southwest meet-up in Austin, I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of the documentary, Mavis! (exclamation point included and appropriate, given the energy and joy in the title’s subject). “Mavis” is Mavis Staples, who you should know for her music, as singer with her family’s group, The Staple Singers; and, for as a positive force for good. In fact, she’s a lesson in whole health, which is why I’m writing about here on Health Populi which is dedicated to health where we live, work, play, pray…and sing. For

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Digital health love – older people who use tech like health-tech, too

As people take on self-service across all aspects of daily living, self-care in health is growing beyond the use of vitamins/minerals/supplements, over-the-counter meds, and trying out the blood-pressure cuff in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription to be filled. Today, health consumers the world over have begun to engage in self-care using digital technologies. And this isn’t just a phenomenon among people in the Millennial generation. Most seniors who regularly use technology (e.g., using computers and mobile phones) are also active in digitally tracking their weight, for example, learned in a survey by Accenture. Older people who use technology in daily

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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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Women-centered design and mobile health: heads-up, 2014 mHealth Summit

This post is written as part of the Disruptive Women on Health’s blog-fest celebrating the 2014 mHealth Summit taking place 7-11 December 2014 in greater Washington, DC. Women and mobile health: let’s unpack the intersection. On the supply side of the equation, Good Housekeeping covered health tracking-meets-fashion bling in the magazine a few weeks ago in article tucked between how to cook healthy Thanksgiving side dishes and tips on getting red wine stains out of tablecloths. This ad appeared in a major sporting goods chain’s 2014 Black Friday pre-print in my city’s newspaper last week. And along with consumer electronics brand faves like

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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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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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mHealth will join the health ecosystem – prelude to the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show

The rise of digital health at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show signals the hockey-stick growth of consumer-facing health devices for fitness and, increasingly, more medical applications in the hands of people, patients, and caregivers. This year at #CES2014, while the 40% growth of the CES digital health footprint will get the headlines, the underlying story will go beyond wristbands and step-tracking generating data from an N of 1 to tools that generate data to bolster shared-decision making between people and the health system, and eventually support population health. For example: – Aetna is partnering with J&J to deploy their Care4Today

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Be thankful for your good life. Now think about what a good death would be.

This Thanksgiving, we’re once again participating in the annual Engage With Grace blog rally, encouraging those who haven’t considered their end-of-life preferences to start thinking about them, and asking those who have done it to consider how their decisions may have changed over time. It’s good food for thought. Wishing you all a happy, healthy holiday season.  Most of us find ourselves pretty fascinating… flipping through photos and slowing down for the ones where we’re included, tweeting our favorite tidbits of information, Facebook-ing progress on this or that… We find other people captivating as well.  In fact, there’s a meme going around

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More chronically ill people use online health resources – but they’re not so social, Pew finds

People who are diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition are more likely to seek information online, use social media to understand peer patients’ reviews on drugs and treatments, and learn from other patients about their personal health experiences. While that’s encouraging news for a health empowerment headline, the underlying challenge that should prevent congratulatory fist-bumps among patient-engagement proponents is that people living with chronic disease are less likely to have internet access. Why? Because chronically ill people tend to be older and less educated, and they’re also less likely to be working. Simply put, “People living with chronic

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There’s fear of health care costs in peoples’ retirement visions

While working people in the U.S. are feeling better about the nation’s economy, Americans aren’t putting much money into savings for retirement. The reasons for this are many, but above all is what Mercer calls “the specter of health care costs in retirement” in the Mercer Workplace Survey for 2013. In addition to peoples’ concerns about future health care costs, reasons for not putting money away for the future include flat personal income, slow economic growth and financial literacy challenges around how much 401(k) savings can be tax-deferred. On the slow economic growth perception, Mercer found that, on the upside, people

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

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

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7 Women and 1 Man Talking About Life, Health and Sex – Health 2.0 keeping it real

Women and binge drinking…job and financial stress…sleeplessness…caregiving challenges…sex…these were the topics covered in Health 2.0 Conference’s session aptly called “The Unmentionables.” The panel on October 1, 2013, was a rich, sobering and authentic conversation among 7 women and 1 man who kept it very real on the main stage of this mega-meeting that convenes health technology developers, marketers, health providers, insurers, investors, patient advocates, and public sector representatives (who, sadly, had to depart for Washington, DC, much earlier than intended due to the government shutdown). The Unmentionables is the brainchild of Alexandra Drane and her brilliant team at the Eliza

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Health care and survey taking at the Big Box Store

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

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People with doctors interested in EMRs, but where’s the easy button?

1 in two people who are insured and have a regular doctor are interested in trying out an electronic medical record. But they need a doctor or nurse to suggest this, and they need it to be easy to use. The EMR Impact survey was conducted by Aeffect and 88 Brand Partners to assess 1,000 U.S. online consumers’ views on electronic medical records (EMRs): specifically, how do insured American adults (age 25 to 55 who have seen their regular physician in the past 3 years) view accessing their personal health information via EMRs? Among this population segment, 1 in 4 people (24%)

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Chief Health Officers, Women, Are In Pain

Women are the Chief Health Officers of their families and in their communities. But stress is on the rise for women. Taking an inventory on several health risks for American women in 2013 paints a picture of pain: of overdosing, caregiver burnout, health disparities, financial stress, and over-drinking. Overdosing on opioids. Opioids are strong drugs prescribed for pain management such as hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. The number of opioid prescriptions grew in the U.S. by over 300% between 1999 and 2010. Deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses among women have increased more than 400% since 1999, compared to 265% among men.

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Americans’ health insurance illiteracy epidemic – simpler is better

Consumers misunderstand health insurance, according to new research published in the Journal of Health Economics this week. The study was done by a multidisciplinary, diverse team of researchers led by one of my favorite health economists, George Loewenstein from Carnegie Mellon, complemented by colleagues from Humana, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Yale, among other research institutions. Most people do not understand how traditional health plans work: the kind that have been available on the market for over a decade. See the chart, which summarizes top-line findings: nearly all consumers believe they understand what maximum out-of-pocket costs are, but only one-half do.

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Happy today, nervous about health and money tomorrow: an Aging in America update

Most older Americans 60 years of age and up (57%) say the last year of their lives has been “normal” – a large increase from the 42% who said life was normal in 2012. And nearly 9 in 10 older Americans are confident in their ability to maintain a high quality of life in their senior years. The good news is that seniors are maintaining a positive outlook on aging and their future. The downside: older people aren’t doing much to invest in their future health for the long run. They’re also worried about the financial impact of living longer.

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10 Reasons Why ObamaCare is Good for US

When Secretary Sebelius calls, I listen. It’s a sort of “Help Wanted” ad from the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that prompted me to write this post. The Secretary called for female bloggers to talk about the benefits of The Affordable Care Act last week when she spoke in Chicago at the BlogHer conference. Secretary Sebelius’s request was discussed in this story from the Associated Press published July 25, 2013. “I bet you more people could tell you the name of the new prince of England than could tell you that the health market opens October 1st,” the

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Healthways buys into Dr. Ornish’s approach: will “Ornish-inside” scale wellness in America?

People who live in U.S. cities with low levels of well-being have twice the rate of heart attacks as people who live in healthier America. That’s 5.5% of the population in sicker America versus 2.8% of the population living in healthy America. The first chart illustrates this disparity, taken from the Gallup-Healthways index that examined 190 metropolitan areas in 2012. Based on this study, it’s good to live in parts of Utah, Nebraska and Colorado, but not so healthy to be a resident in West Virginia, Alabama, and parts of Kentucky and Ohio. Heart disease and diabetes are killing a plurality

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The emerging economy for consumer health and wellness

The notion of consumers’ greater skin in the game of U.S. health care — and the underlying theory of rational economic men and women that would drive people to greater self-care — permeated the agenda of the 2nd annual Consumer Health & Wellness Innovation Summit, chaired by Lisa Suennen of Psilos Ventures. Lisa kicked off the meeting providing a wellness market landscape, describing the opportunity that is the ‘real’ consumer-driven health care: people getting and staying well, and increasing participation in self-management of chronic conditions. The U.S. health system is transforming, she explained, with payors beginning to look like computer

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The health/wealth disconnect in America

Two in 3 Americans are uncomfortable with their financial situation. And most are totally oblivious to how much money they will need to spend on health care in the future. Seven in 10 people expect to spend less than 10% of their monthly retirement income on medical and dental expenses; but the real number is 30% of income needed for health care in retirement, according to The Urban Institute. The Wellness for Life survey, conducted for Aviva, the life and disability company, collaborating with the Mayo Clinic, finds an American health citizen out of touch with their personal health economics.

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Dietitians provide a health bridge between food and pharmacy

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

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U.S. Health Costs vs. The World: Is It Still The Prices, and Are We Still Stupid?

Comparing health care prices in the U.S. with those in other developed countries is an exercise in sticker shock. The cost of a hospital day in the U.S. was, on average, $4,287 in 2012. It was $853 in France, a nation often lauded for its excellent health system and patient outcomes but with a health system that’s financially strapped. A routine office visit to a doctor cost an average of $95 in the U.S. in 2012. The same visit was priced at $30 in Canada and $30 in France, as well. A hip replacement cost $40,364 on average in the

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

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

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Health is wealth and wealth, health

It’s America Saves Week (February 25-March 2, 2013). Do you know what your savings rate is? If you’re in the center of the American savings bell curve, you probably don’t have a savings plan with specific goals and don’t know your net worth. Two-thirds of U.S. adults say they have sufficient emergency savings for unexpected expenses like a visit to a doctor. However, only one-half of non-retired people believe they’re saving enough for a retirement where they’ll have a “desirable standard of living.” This six annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America, the American Savings Education Council, and the

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Wealthy Americans’ top financial concern is affording health care in retirement

The wealthiest Americans’ top financial concern is being able to afford healthcare and support they’ll need in old age. The #2 financial concern among wealthy investors is worrying about the financial situation of their children and grandchildren, closely followed by a major family health problem occurring and someone to care for them in their old age. These health-financial worries come out of a survey among 2,056 U.S. investors age 25 and over who have at least $250,000 in investable assets conducted by UBS in January 2013. UBS found that staying health and fit is investors’ top objective, with 73% of wealthy

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Butter over guns in the minds of Americans when it comes to deficit cutting

Americans have a clear message for the 113th Congress: I want my MTV, but I want my Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security,   health insurance subsidies, and public schools. These budget-saving priorities are detailed in The Public’s Health Care Agenda for the 113th Congress, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health, published in January 2013. The poll found that a majority of Americans placed creating health insurance exchanges/marketplaces at top priority, compared with other health priorities at the state level. More people support rather than oppose Medicaid expansion, heavily weighted toward 75%

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Formally tracking health data changes health behavior and drives social health

Most of us keep track of some aspect of our health. Half of all people who track do so “in their heads,” not on paper, Excel spreadsheet, or via digital platform. Furthermore, 36% update their health tracking data at least once a day; but 16% update at most twice a month, and 9% update less than once monthly. Tracking for Health from the Pew Internet & American Life Project paints a portrait of U.S. adults who, on one hand are quantifying themselves but largely aren’t taking advantage of automated and convenient ways of doing so. Overall, 69% of U.S. adults track

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Retail and work-site clinics – medical homes for younger adults?

The use of retail and work-site health clinics is up, and their consumers skew young. Overall, 27% of all U.S. adults have stepped into a walk-in clinic in the past two years. But only 15% of people 65 and over have used such a clinic. This begs the question: are retail and on-site clinics at the workplace filling the role of medical homes for younger adult Americans? The Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll published in January 2013 discovered that use of retail clinics grew from 7% in 2008 to 27% in 2012. The largest age cohort using walk-in clinics is people between

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One-third of U.S. consumers plan to buy a new fitness tech in 2013, but most buyers are already healthy

Over one-third of U.S. consumers plan to buy a new fitness technology in the next year, especially women. They’ll buy these at mass merchants (females in particular, shopping at Target and Walmart), sporting goods retailers (more male buyers here), online and at electronics stores like Best Buy. These potential buyers consider themselves in good or excellent physical health. They’ll see the latest applications on retail store shelves in pedometers, calorie trackers, fitness video games, digital weight scales, and heart rate monitors that will be launched this week at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In advance of the

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Health as long-term deficit driver – the CBO points out tough choices

There are many forks in the road facing us in the U.S. for deficit reduction, as the picture shows. This is the cover graphic for Choices for Deficit Reduction, a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published November 2012. Those roads could be labeled “Medicare” and “Medicaid,” as health is the #1 deficit driver for the American economy — most notably, Medicare and long-term care services financed via Medicaid. The CBO expects that per capita spending on health care, already at 18% of the national economy in 2012, will continue to grow faster than spending on other goods and

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Most smartphone owners seek health information online via mobile

The ubiquity of mobile phones, increasingly smart ones (one-half of all mobile phones in the U.S. ), means people are walking around, working, playing and driving with self-tracking devices and ultra-mini computers in their pockets and totebags. 52% of smartphone owners seek health information on their phones, and overall 1 in 3 people seek health information on all mobile phones — nearly doubling the percent of those seeking health info via mobile in 2010 (17%). People who are sicker, caregivers, and those who have had a big change in health are also more prone to using phones for health, as

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Consumers blame insurance and pharma for health costs, but love their primary care doctors

The 78% of U.S. adults with primary care physicians (think: medical homes) are very satisfied with their doctors’ visits. The main reasons for this high level of satisfaction include communication (listening, talking), customer service (caring, personable), and clinical (good diagnosis and treatment). More women than men have a primary care physician relationship, more college grads do, and more people with incomes of $75,000 a year or more do, as well. 90% of those 55 and over have a primary care doctor – a stat heavily influenced by the fact that Medicare coverage kicks in for older people. This consumer profile

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What’s on senior Americans’ minds? Medicare and money

What’s keeping seniors up at night when it comes to retirement? #1, according to 6 in 10 seniors, is the future of Medicare, followed by having enough money to enjoy retirement. In particular, 61% of seniors are concerned about future out-of-pocket health care costs. It’s all about Medicare and money for U.S. seniors, found in the Allsup Medicare Advisor Seniors Survey, Medicare Planning and Trends Among Seniors, published in October 2012. Medicare could be the most beloved government program ever, as 89% of seniors say they’re satisfied with Medicare coverage. Given the program’s shaky financial future, Allsup wanted to get

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

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

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What Jerry the Bear means for Health 2.0

A teddy bear in the arms of a child with diabetes can change health care. At least, Jerry the Bear can. Yesterday kicked off the sixth autumn mega-version of the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Co-founded by Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, a long-time health analyst and physician, respectively, this meeting features new-new tools, apps and devices aimed at improving individual and population health, as well as health processes and workflows for physicians, hospitals, pharma, and other stakeholders in the health care ecosystem – even health lawyers, who met on October 7 to discuss up-to-the-minute  e-health law issues. Yesterday was

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Not goin’ mobile (yet): health search still mostly done on computers

As the Web Goes Mobile, Healthcare Stands Still, sums up a survey from Makovsky Health and Kelton. Their research finds that, while consumers have beloved relationships with their mobile devices (phones and tablets) and use them regularly for aspects of daily living, healthcare information search is still largely managed via desktop and laptop computers. The infographic organizes some of Makovsky-Kelton’s findings. Of note is that parents are more likely to seek health answers online, Wikipedia has gained in health use since 2011, women are more likely than men to research before filling a prescription, and recommendations from friends and family are

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Aging in the US – seniors are health-confident, less financially so

Most seniors look forward to aging in place, and are confident in their ability to do so. Such is the top-line feel-good finding from the National Council on Aging‘s (NCOA) survey, The United States of Aging, sponsored by USA Today and United Healthcare. A majority of seniors have a sense of purpose and plans for their future. Three-fourths of older Americans say staying physically fit through exercise and proactively managing their health is important. However, only 36% of seniors say they exercise or engage in physical activity every day. 11% never do. The most common chronic conditions noted by seniors

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The rise and rise of retail clinics: a growing site for primary care, everywhere

There were nearly 6 million patient visits to retail health clinics in 2009. Such visits to retail clinics rose four-fold between 2007 and 2009, according to a RAND study published in the September 2012 issue of Health Affairs. Visits for prevention versus acute care in 2009 were roughly evenly split, with 47.5% and 51.4% of people over 18 seeking prevention vs. acute care from retail clinics, respectively. The most common acute care complaints in the retail setting were upper respiratory infections, pharyngitis, otitis externa, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, and allergies. What’s underneath the impressive rise is important to parse out

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Thinking about Dad as Digital “Mom”

What is a Mom, and especially, who is a “Digital Mom?” I’ve been asked to consider this question in a webinar today hosted by Enspektos, who published the report Digging Beneath the Surface: Understanding the Digital Health Mom in May 2012. I wrote my review of that study in Health Populi here on May 15. In today’s webinar, my remarks are couched as “Caveats About the Digital Mom: a multiple persona.” Look at the graphic. On the left, the first persona is a mother with children under 18. Most “mom segmentations” in market research focus on this segment. But what

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What we can learn from centenarians about health

To get to be 100 years or older requires exercise, social connectedness, and good sleep, according to a majority of centennarians polled in UnitedHealthcare’s 100@100 Survey, 2012 Report of Findings. The key findings of this fascinating survey are that: Centenarians have better eating and sleeping habits than Boomers. One-half of centenarians regularly exercise. The most common forms of exercise are walking or hiking, muscle strengthening, gardening, indoor cardio exercise, exercise classes, and yoga/Tai Chi or other mind/body/spirit forms. Social networks bolster health, with most old-old people communicating with family or friends nearly every day And, laughter is a vitamin, with most

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Patients want to collaborate with physicians, but are reluctant to do so

“Knowing they may need to return at some later time, patients felt they were vulnerable and dependent on the good will of their physicians. Thus, deference to authority instead of genuine partnership appeared to be the participants’ mode of working,” asserts a study into physician-patient relationships published this week in Health Affairs. The study’s title captures the top-line research finding Authoritarian Physicians and Patients’ Fear of Being Labeled ‘Difficult’ Among Key Obstacles To Shared Decision Making.  Researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute analyzed data on patients participating in focus grooups, from the age of forty and over, from

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Social media in health help (more) people take on the role of health consumer

One in 3 Americans uses social media for health discussions. Health is increasingly social, and PwC has published the latest data on the phenomenon in their report, Social media ‘likes’ healthcare: from marketing to social business, published this week. PwC polled 1,060 U.S. adults in February 2012 to learn their social media habits tied to health. Among all health consumers, the most common use of social media in health is to access health-related consumer reviews of medications or treatments, hospitals, providers, and insurance plans, as shown in the graph. Social media enables people to be better health “consumers” by giving them peers’

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Wellness Ignited! Edelman panel talks about how to build a health culture in the U.S.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the iconic guru of all-things-health, was joined by a panel of health stakeholders at this morning’s Edelman salon discussing Wellness Ignited – Now and Next. Representatives from the American Heart Association, Columbia University, Walgreens, Google, Harvard Business School, and urban media mavens Quincy Jones III and Shawn Ullman, who lead Feel Rich, a health media organization, were joined by Nancy Turett, Edelman’s Chief Strategist of Health & Society, in the mix. Each participant offered a statement about what they do related to health and wellness, encapsulating a trend identified by Jennifer Pfahler, EVP of Edelman. Trend 1: Integrative

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The economics of mHealth – incentives align more easily outside of U.S., but times (and incentives) are a’changing

A global analysis of mobile health (mHealth) by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for Telenor, the telecomms company, illustrates many forms of return-on-investment using mobile platforms in health: Improved quality of life for individuals and families A more educated society Lower absenteeism for employers, and Greater incomes for people. Together, these micro-benefits yield macro societal benefits such as freeing up (acute) health systems due to a lower burden of chronic care; positive impacts on people, labor participation, and productivity; and, long-term economic growth. BCG believes that, “the smartphone is the most popular technology among doctors since the stethoscope.” That phone can

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Michael Graves: architect-turned-health designer at Social Media Week

Michael Graves is one of the greatest architects of our, or any, time. He is now dedicating himself to re-imagining what the patient’s experience in a hospital room can be: not just less humiliating and frustrating, but in fact a healing experience in an aesthetically comforting and user-friendly environment. Graves, longtime affiliated with Princeton University, is famous among mainstream consumers as one of Target’s first designers of home products for the past 13 years, from teapots and cooking gear to kitchen cleaning accessories. Sadly for us mass consumers, this will be his last year of designing for Target. He told the

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Hey, Big Spender: 1% of US health citizens consume 20% of costs

Cue up the song “Hey Big Spender” from the Broadway hit, Sweet Charity, when you read the January 2012 AHRQ report with the long-winded title, The Concentration and Persistence in the Level of Health Expenditures over Time: Estimates for the U.S. Population, 2008-2009.” The report’s headline is that 1% of the U.S. population consumed 20% of all health costs spent in the U.S. in 2008 and 2009, illustrated by the chart. These Big Health Spenders tend to be in poor or fair health, older, female, non-Hispanic whites and people with only publicly-provided health insurance. Their mean expenditure was $90,061. The top 10%

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Health spending in America – self-rationing slows cost increases

The Big Headline under the banner of Health Economics this week is the statistic that growth in U.S. national health spending slowed to an anemic 3.9%  in 2010 — the slowest rate of growth in the 51-year history of keeping the National Health Expenditure Accounts.   Before American policymakers, providers, plans and suppliers pat themselves on their collective back on a job well-done, the heavy-lifting behind this story was largely undertaken by health consumers themselves in the form of facing greater co-pays, premiums and prices for health services — and as a result, self-rationing off health care services and utilization, which

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Designing health technology for people at home

The Internet, broadband, mobile health platforms, and consumers’ demand for more convenient health care services are fueling the development and adoption of health technologies in peoples’ homes. However, designing products that people will delight in using is based on incorporating human factors in design. Human factors are part of engineering science and account for the people using the device, the equipment being used, and the tasks the people are undertaking. The model illustrates these three interactive factors, along with the outer rings of environments: health policy, community, social, and physical. Getting these aspects right in the design of health technologies meant for

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Every picture tells a story, and nowhere more important than in health

A picture’s not only worth the proverbial thousand words, but can save a life. So can a t-shirt…er, TeachShirt. At the Unniched meeting held on 25 October 2011 in NYC, I spent a few minutes talking with two members of Zemoga‘s brain trust: Sven Larsen, Chief Marketing Office, and the firm’s Principal Design guru, Dan Licht. We discussed how design is so critical a factor in health, and in life — particularly, in DIY health, where we are all taking on more responsibility for our own health care — clinical, financial, mental, social. Among Zemoga’s colorful and uber-creative portfolio is its concept, the

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Unretirement: the number of Americans planning to retire at 67 is plummeting

Two publications this week reinforce the new reality of health and financial insecurity: The Vanishing Middle America issue of Advertising Age (October 17, 2011 issue) and the Sun Life Financial U.S. Unretirement Index – Fall 2011 with the subtitle, “Americans’ trust in retirement reaches a tipping point.” The chart shows the retirement coin’s two sides: since 2008, the proportion of people in the U.S. who expect to retire by 67 dropped from 52% down to 35%; and, those who believe they will be working full-time (I emphasize “full,” not “part,” time) grew from 19% to 29%. 61% of working Americans plan to

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A long-term care crisis is brewing around the world: who will provide and pay for LTC?

By 2050, the demand for long-term care (LTC) workers will more than double in the developed world, from Norway and New Zealand to Japan and the U.S. Aging populations with growing incidence of disabilities, looser family ties, and more women in the labor force are driving this reality. This is a multi-dimensional problem which requires looking beyond the issue of the simple aging demographic. Help Wanted? is an apt title for the report from The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), subtitled, “providing and paying for long-term care.” The report details the complex forces exacerbating the LTC carer shortage, focusing

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

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

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Telemonitoring for health must be patient-centered and participatory

In December 2010, an article describing a telehealth remote monitoring program for heart failure patients concluded that telemonitoring did not improve patient outcomes. The paper, Telemonitoring in Patients with Heart Failure, written by Sarwat I. Chaudhry, M.D, and nine other authors, analyzed 1,653 CHF patients, 826 of whom participated in a remote health intervention: a telephone-based interactive voice-response system that patients dialed into on a daily basis to report symptoms and weight; this was designed to occur every day over six months.  These data were then reviewed by patients’ clinicians who could contact patients when data pointed to the clinical need to adjust patients’ medications and other parameters.

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The Post-Health Plan Health Plan: Humana

“If nothing else, the health reform bill has signaled the beginning of the end of the health plan as we know and love it,” David Brailer, once health IT czar under President GW Bush and now venture capitalist, is quoted in Reuters on Hot Healthcare Investing Trends for 2011. One health plan Brailer called out that could be relevant in the post-reform, post-recessionary US health world is Humana. I had the opportunity to spend time with Paul Kusserow, Chief Strategy Officer for Humana, during the HIMSS11 meeting. Our conversation began with me asking why the chief strategist for Humana would

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Meeker & Murphy on Mobile – through the lens of health

We technology market data junkies look to several thought leaders throughout the year for updates on their forecasts: one of these, for me, is Mary Meeker. Now with KPCB (who some of you know as Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Myers, the Silicon Valley venture capital company), Meeker has surveyed the morphing field of mobile and finalized her snapshot in Top Mobile Internet Trends, along with her colleague Matt Murphy.  Meeker’s Top 10 (drum roll, please) are that: 1. Mobile platforms have reached c4itical mass 2. Mobile is global 3. Social networking is accelerating growth of mobile 4. Time shifting is driving mobile use

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The home health hub is digital, mobile and personal

Bet on it, live from Las Vegas at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES): the new home health hub is digital, mobile and personal. More consumers are morphing TV and video watching from the “set” to the computer and mobile platforms, and DIYing more activities of daily living. Health (for both wellness and sickness care) is transforming in this process. This transformation is enabled through consumers’ adoption of technologies that they’re using in their daily lives for entertainment, household management, and communications. Broadband and wireless provide the infrastructure for health care to move beyond the doctor’s office and the hospital, so engaged patients who choose to do

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Be Thankful: Engage With Grace

Now that the turkey, champagne, stuffing and other glorious carbs have been consumed. the real dessert is whipped cream on the pumpkin pie: the gift of a conversation about Life and Grace. We each have our stories about how a loved one’s life has ended. If we’re lucky, that beloved person had a good death: in sleep, perhaps, or of simply old age with no hospital events or trauma. Then there are the Rest-of-Us who have the stories of long and painful endings. When you’re already in the situation of making tough health decisions, it’s tough, it’s emotional, it’s irrational,

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Broadband: part of the prescription for people with disabilities

6 in 10 U.S. households connected to the Internet via broadband in 2009, rising from 9% in 2001. In the U.S., the gap in the adoption of broadband between lower-income households and higher-income people is 33% — 61% of people with $25,000 to $50,000 household income connect to the Internet at home via broadband; that proportion is 94% for households with over $100,000 a year. Adoption gaps in broadband persist in the U.S. based on income, urban/rural location, race, education, and level of disability. Differences in socio-economic and geographic characteristics explain much of the broadband adoption gap associated with disability

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Seniors Are Happy With Rx Plans, Five Years After Part D Begins

Contrary to stereotypes, older people can adapt, learn, and use new products and services. The introduction of Medicare Part D five years ago was an experiment in public policy, with some policymakers fretting about seniors’ ability to navigate a new system. It appears Medicare Part D is a hit, and people are working well with it across gender, age cohorts, incomes (from very low to upper-income strata), educational levels, and especially very sick and disabled people. Among all seniors, 90% have prescription drug coverage. 61% of U.S. adults 65 and over have a Medicare prescription drug plan, 16% are covered by an employer-sponsored

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Being Digital Doesn’t Always Mean You’re Young, Demographically Speaking

Being younger demographically doesn’t mean you’re younger, digitally-speaking. Your Real Age isn’t your Digital Age, according to Wells Fargo‘s survey into Americans’ use of advanced tools for daily tasks. The categories of peoples’ digital maturity include: – Digital teens, who are people who are online but don’t use all tools at a ‘high level’ – Digital novices are those people who manage basic tasks online but aren’t yet connecting with others online or managing more complex tasks – Digital adults have the highest digital age, as demonstrated by their using online tools for daily tasks, interacting with others online, and

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