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The 2023 Health Economy – The Evolving Primary Care and Retail Health Convergence Through Trilliant Health’s Lens

In U.S. health care’s negative-sum game, stakeholders who survive and win that game will have to deliver value-for-money, we learn from Trilliant Health’s 2023 Trends Shaping the Health Economy Report.                 “Report” is one word for this nearly 150-page compendium of health care data that is an encyclopedic treasure trove for health service researchers, marketers, strategists, journalists, and those keen to explore questions about the current state of health care in America. As Sanjula Jain points out in the Report’s press release, the publication resembles another huge report many of us appreciated for

 

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

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

 

The Healthcare Financial Experience is a Stressful One: the Convergence of our Medical, Retail, and Financial Lives

One in two consumers in the U.S. feel their well-being or healing was negatively impacted by difficulty paying for their medical care. Welcome to the convergence of patients’ health care life with financial and retail lives, we learn from the 2024 Healthcare Financial Experience Study from Cedar.                   And that patient’s positive clinical experience can absolutely reverse the consumer’s perception of the provider, noted by this quote from OSU’s Chief Financial Officer Vincent Tammaro: “We’ve cured you of your ailment, but we’ve harmed you financially.” That’s a form of financial toxicity that

 

The Omnichannel Imperative for Healthcare: Supporting Telehealth Awareness Week 2023

“What omnichannel really means: hearing the customer wherever they are and making them feel heard, valued, and understood.” That statement comes from Qualtrics’ explanation of omnichannel experience design. The very human needs of feeling one is heard, is valued, and is understood, underpin the rasion d’etre of omnichannel marketing. And these very values are those that underpin the trust between patients and providers and the large healthcare ecosystem.         It’s Telehealth Awareness Week, led by the ATA. I celebrate and support the effort; this Health Populi post explains the Association’s mantra that Telehealth is Health, and that

 

Slip Slidin’ Away: the Reputations of Pharma and Healthcare in the U.S. Decline in the Latest Gallup Poll

Oh, how quickly people forget…and slow to forgive. U.S. consumers’ positive views for healthcare, pharma and retail have significantly fallen in just one year, the latest annual Gallup poll of industry rankings in America found as of August 2023. This stat for the pharma industry was the lowest Gallup ever recorded for the sector since 2001.                     I can’t help hearing Paul Simon’s lyrics to Slip Slidin’ Away….”you know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip slidin’ away” when it comes to health citizens’ perceptions of pharma and the healthcare

 

Because of Winn-Dixie, Will ALDI Expand Its Healthcare Footprint? Not Likely Through Pharmacy….

This week ALDI, the global food discount group, announced they would acquire Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket stores.           In response to the deal, Supermarket News said that ALDI “is shaking up the grocery sector with its acquisition” of the Winn-Dixie chain. That statement was focused on the overall food chain landscape, where Winn-Dixie has played a significant role in the traditional brick-and-mortar grocery business. ALDI has generally served a value-oriented segment of consumers, which industry analyst have categorized as a separate food channel based on consumer segmentation. In addition to the overall “shaking up” of the

 

Personalizing Health Means Personalizing Health Insurance for Patient-Members – Learning from HealthEdge

As patients assume more financial skin in their personal healthcare, they take on the role of demanding consumer, or “impatient patients.” HealthEdge’s latest research into health consumers’ perspectives finds peoples’ satisfaction with their health insurance plans lacking, with members seeking easier access their personal health information, high levels of service, and rewards for healthy behaviors.           Health plans would also boost consumers’ satisfaction by channeling patients’ access to the kinds of medical providers that align with consumers’ preferences and personal values, and by personalizing information to steer people toward lower-cost care.          

 

A Tale of Barbie, Beyonce and Taylor, the Economy and the Gynecologist

This weekend’s Wall Street Journal Saturday/Sunday edition featured a big story on the economic force of women in the summer of 2023, termed “the women’s multiplier effect” — that women’s spending is a powerful force in the U.S. economy (and as it turns out, in Sweden’s economy as well).                 The article was titled, “Women Own This Summer. The Economy Proves It,” and featured a Photoshopped image in various shades of pink with Margot Robbie as Barbie in the center, flanked by Beyonce to the left and Taylor Swift to the right. I’m

 

Hims and Hers and Hearts – Cardiology Blurs Into DTC Retail Health

Statin therapy has been used for decades to lower cholesterol with the goal of reducing mortality and preventing cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes. Hims & Hers announced a new service offering for health consumers and clinicians concerned about heart health called Heart Health by Hims.               This is Hims & Hers’ first foray into cardiovascular health, working in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology (ACC). ACC clinical guidelines will inform the Hims’ provider platform for the program. “Prevention is the ideal mechanism to decrease cardiovascular events and ensure optimal heart

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Cost Trumps Quality of Health Care for Consumers As Their Experience Has Eroded

Patients’ perceptions of health care quality and experience have fallen in the three years since 2020, based on a July 2023 update from The Beryl Institute – Ipsos Px Pulse study.         Start with health care quality, which 58% of U.S. adult patients ranked as “very good or good” in June 2020. The percent of health consumers evaluating their healthcare quality as very good or good fell to 41% of people in June 2023, an erosion of 17 percentage points, shown in the first chart.         Next, consider patients’ ratings on their care experience,

 

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

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

 

There’s a New “O” in Medicine-Town – Welcome OPill to the Front of the Counter

You may not be able to get that ear-worm jingle that goes “O O O Ozempic” out of your musical mind, but I’m happy to tell you there’s a new “O” in town: the Opill. Welcome to the first OTC contraceptive for sale in the USA.                     I wrote about Perrigo’s Opill here in Health Populi in May 2023 as a “signpost on the road to retail health.” It’s official: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opill®, a progestin-only daily oral contraceptive, for over-the-counter (OTC) use for all ages.

 

Happy Amazon Prime Days, When You Can Get 25% Off a Year’s One Medical Membership

Now in Aisle E(commerce) – get your one-year membership to One Medical for $149. Today and tomorrow are Amazon Prime Days, 2023 style, when you can fetch bargains on lots of electronics (esp. deeply-discounted Amazon-branded devices), sporting goods, kitchen gear, pet supplies, and even groceries (saving with Amazon Fresh getting $20 off $100+ orders on Prime Day).                       And among a vast menu of health, medical, and well-being offerings from collagen to gym equipment and blood pressure monitors is that One Medical membership good for a year of services. “On-demand

 

Location, Location, Location – Understanding Health Consumers’ Evolving Definition of Convenience

The definition of “convenience” in the eyes of patients, consumers, and caregivers is multi-faceted, with the concept of “location” shifting both physically and digitally. We learn this in new research from JLL, the global real estate services company. “Why is a real estate services company doing research into consumers’ views on health care?” you might ask. See my Hot Points below, discussing my views on the morphing of health care real estate from Pill Hill and inpatient hospitals to the home and closer-to-home sites.             In the 2023 Patient Consumer Survey report, the topline lesson

 

Uber Health: A Good Example of “Connective Tissue” in the Health Care Ecosystem

We often talk about “the last mile” as the difficulty in getting broadband to cover folks in rural areas or bringing a product to fruition for delivery in a market.               Uber Health is trying to solve another riff on the “last mile” challenge, which is expanding delivery of groceries and over-the-counter medicines to people who may be cut-off from transportation options, compelled to stay home due to physical limitations, or otherwise simply demanding the convenience of home delivery for basic daily needs related to their health. The service will be enabled through Uber

 

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

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

 

Consumers and Cancer: 3 Patient-Focused Charts From IQVIA on the State of the Oncology in 2023 – and Introducing CancerX

It’s time for the annual ASCO conference, currently convening the American Society for Clinical Oncology in Chicago. Starting 2nd June, there have been dozens of positive announcements updating research and therapies bringing hope to the 2 million new patients who will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. in 2023, and millions of more people worldwide. Just in time for #ASCO2023, the IQVIA Institute published their annual report on Global Oncology Trends 2023 – Outlook to 2027, an update featuring pipelines, therapy approvals, research updates, costs of oncology products, and patients.                  

 

Band-Aid® Rules: Health is Baked Into The Most Trusted Brands in 2023 In Retail, Beauty, and Non-Profits

The ten most trusted brands in the U.S. have to do with health, well-being, and hygiene in everyday life — from convenient package delivery to financial health, mindful self-care, and taking care of our kids’ boo-boos. Welcome to this year’s portfolio of the Most Trusted Brands 2023, a special report from Morning Consult that, annually, paints a picture of what everyday life for everyday people is about.         For the second year in a row, Band-Aid® brand bandages ranked top of all brands assessed among U.S. consumers from data gathered in March-April 2023. Net trust in this study

 

The Growing Pet Economy – What It Means for Human Health, Well-Being, and Healthcare Costs

Our pets can be personal and family drivers of health and health care cost savings, according to a new study from  according to a new report from researchers at George Mason University published in their paper, Health Care Cost Savings of Pet Ownership. Reviewing this new paper inspired me to explore the current state of the pet/health market and implications for their human families, my weaving of various stories explored in this Health Populi blog post. Some of the key signposts we’ll cover are: The report on pet ownership driving owners’ health care cost savings A new market analysis of

 

Our Mental and Emotional Health Are Interwoven With What We Eat and Drink – Chewing On the IFIC 2023 Food and Health Survey

As most Americans confess to feeling stressed over the past six months, peoples’ food and beverage choices have been intimately connected with their mental and emotional well-being, we learn from the 2023 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC). For this year’s study, IFIC commissioned Greenwald Research to conduct 1,022 interviews with adults between 18 and 80 years of age in April 2023. The research explored consumers’ perspectives on healthy food, the cost of food, approaches to self-care through food consumption, the growing role of social media in the food system, and the influence of sustainability

 

Retail Clinics’ Growing Role in Health Care and Prescription Drug Sales

“It seemed like an odd pairing: shampoo and a throat swab,” observes a new report on the growth of retail health from Definitive Healthcare. But retail clinics are no longer, as the paper explains, “an experiment of a few grocery stores….they’re becoming a major force in the U.S. healthcare system,” asserts the thesis of Retailers in healthcare: A catalyst for provider evolution.                 While the use of emergency departments fell by 1% in the past five years, the use of retail clinics expanded by 70%, Definitive Healthcare calculated. Most retail clinics are owned by

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Consumers’ Use of Digital Health is Just Part of Mainstream Life Now

Using the Internet and mobile health apps are as mainstream as swiping left for a date and researching features in a new car, based on the Digital 2023 Global Overview Report from Meltwater. The broad coverage of this kind of research can’t be accomplished by just one entity, and Meltwater acknowledges the partners who brought them to this research-party: these included data.ai, GSMA Intelligence, GWI, Locowise, Ookla, PPRO, SemRush, Similarweb, Skai, and Statista. In this 400+ page report, you can find most datapoints you’re interested in covering the global consumers’ use of the internet, mobile apps, and social media. I

 

Mental Health Services Grow in the Retail Health Ecosystem

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, there’s no shortage of press releases promoting a wide range of services and programs emerging from both the public and private sectors. In the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the exposed epidemic-beyond-the-pandemic of mental health has inspired many collaborations between public, private commercial and not-for-profit organizations. These have begun to embed mental health into the larger retail health ecosystem. I’ll point to several examples as signposts for this phenomenon.           Walgreens and Mental Health America – This collaboration expands Walgreens’ work with Mental Health America focusing in

 

Women’s Health on Her Own Terms – “She Knows” What She Needs

Despite some improvement in the representation of women by cinema, TV shows, and brands, distortions in media remain that are risks to women receiving appropriate health care. Breaking through taboos of weight, reproductive services, and mental health are the top 3 factors preventing women from getting proper care, according to Health On Her Terms, a research study from WPP and Ogilvy partnering with SeeHer, an organization of collaborations from media, technology, business, education, and other sectors (including over 7,000 brands) focused on the accurate portrayal of women and girls in society. Taglined as “The Marketer’s Hippocratic Oath to Women, the

 

Food Is Medicine, Especially When You Are Hungry – The American Heart Association‘s FIM Initiative

Food is a basic need, fundamental to our lives and well-being. And for millions of people around the world, and innumerable health citizens in the U.S., food security is part of daily life in 2023. Furthermore, as the U.S. Congress faces voting on the debt ceiling, the issue of SNAP benefits for nutritional assistance (aka “food stamps”) has been identified as a negotiating line-item by certain Federal budget-cut minded folks. That’s why the Food Is Medicine Initiative, launched collaboratively between the American Heart Association and The Rockefeller Foundation, is so timely and welcome.         “The vision for

 

More Consumers Expect Health/Care Companies to Be Purpose-Ful Versus All Other Industries

If your organization serves health consumers, patients, and caregivers, and you’re asking them to spend money on your services or products, then you’ll do well to be clear on your values and sense of purpose. In the latest Ipsos look into the future of “Purpose,” we find that consumers look most to health and pharmacy companies for shared values, compared with other industries people patronize such as food and grocery, technology and banks.                   To understand where Ipsos is coming from on this aspect of ESG, we’ll start with their territory map

 

Enabling better health care, everywhere – my conversation with Microsoft

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

 

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

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

 

Bayer at The Big Game LVII: the Heart Health Ecosystem is Ripe for Self-Care and DIY Health at Home

Joke if you must about Big Game cuisine being typically packed with calories and fat and carbs….and as such, not-so-great for health. For me, the ads are the attraction during The Big Game (along with the Philadelphia Eagles). In this year’s ad line-up, health will be featured in high-priced spots as it has for the past few years. Last year, I was intrigued by a female-focused 30-second spot from Hologic, educating viewers on cervical cancer, discussed here in Health Populi.         This year, my eyes are on Bayer Aspirin’s campaign “encouraging sports fans to keep their heart

 

Wellness in 2023 Is About Connections, Mental Health and Science – Global Wellness Summit’s 2023 Trends

Consumers’ wellness life-flows and demands in 2023 will go well beyond exercise resolutions, eating more greens, and intermittent fasting as a foodstyle. It’s time for us to get the annual update on health consumers from the multi-faceted team who curated the Global Wellness Summit’s annual report on The Future of Wellness 2023 Trends.                   In this year’s look into wellness for the next few years, we see that health-oriented consumers are seeking solutions for dealing with loneliness and mental health, weight and hydration, travel-as-medicine as health destinations, and — not surprisingly —

 

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

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

 

Quick, Accessible, Inexpensive Health Care – A Retail Health Update from Amazon and Dollar General

Two announcements this week add important initiatives to patients’ growing choices that speak to their consumer-sides’ sense of value and personal healthcare cost-containment: Amazon launched RxPass, a generic medicines subscription service; and, Dollar General promoted its mobile health service powered by DocGo on demand for health visits, “right outside the store.”             These two programs come from outside of the legacy health care system of so-called incumbents — hospitals, health systems, health insurance — leveraging two brand-names beloved to many consumers for convenience, price transparency, and sheer cost. First, check out Amazon Pharmacy’s RxPass. Amazon

 

Record Numbers of People in the U.S. Putting Off Medical Care Due to Cost – A New “Pink Tax” on Women?

More people in the U.S. than ever have put off medical care due to cost, according to Gallup’s latest poll of patients in America.             Gallup conducted the annual Health and Healthcare poll U.S. adults in November and December 2022. This was the highest level of self-rationing care due to cost the pollster has found since its inaugural study on the topic in 2001. This was also the most dramatic year-on-year increase of postponing treatment due to cost in the study’s history.             Note the substantial difference in women avoiding

 

Consumers Continue to Lean Into Digital Services: Beyond Tech and Hardware at #CES2023

While CTA forecasts a sobering consumer technology revenue picture for 2023, one of the few bright spots is health and fitness technology services, expected to increase by 9 percent in 2023.             For the forecast, CTA looked at various spending categories, including gaming, automotive and transportation tech, video and audio streaming, consumer electronics (like big-screen TVs), and fitness and health devices. The chart illustrates that consumers’ spending on software and services is expected to hold steady in 2023, still above pre-pandemic levels.             On 3 January, in the annual #CES

 

Can Consumer Electronics Help Stem the Decline of U.S. Life-Years? A Preface for #CES2023

Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped nearly three years between 2019 and 2021, from close to 79 years down to 76. We ended 2022 with this new, sobering statistic from the Centers tor Disease Control (CDC). We begin 2023 with the opening of CES 2023, the world’s largest annual meet-up of consumer electronics innovators, companies, and retailers. How can digital health and other consumer-facing technologies help our health? First, consider the stark data point(s), and then we can better respond to the question’s answer in the Hot Points, below.                 In case you

 

When Household Economics Blur with Health, Technology and Trust – Health Populi’s 2023 TrendCast

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 22 December 2022 in Anxiety, Behavioral health, Big data and health, Big Tech, Broadband, Business and health, Cardiovascular health, Chronic care, Chronic disease, Connected health, Consumer electronics, Consumer experience, Consumer-directed health, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Cybersecurity, Data analytics and health, Demographics and health, Depression, Design and health, Determinants of health, Diet and health, Digital health, Employee benefits, Employers, Financial health, Financial wellness, Fitness, Food and health, Grocery stores, Health apps, Health at home, Health benefits, Health care industry, Health citizenship, Health Consumers, Health costs, Health disparities, Health Economics, Health ecosystem, Health engagement, Health equity, Health insurance, Health Plans, Health policy, Health politics, Health privacy, Healthcare DIY, Heart disease, Heart health, HIPAA, Home care, Home economics, Home health, Hospitals, Infectious disease, Love and health, Medication adherence, Meditation, Mental health, Mindfulness, Moms and health, Money and health, Out of pocket costs, Patient experience, Personal health finance, Pharmaceutical, Pharmacy, Physicians, Popular culture and health, Prescription drugs, Prevention and wellness, Primary care, Public health, Race and health, Remote health monitoring, Retail health, Risk management, SDoH, Self-care, Shopping and health, Social determinants of health, Specialty drugs, Stress, Telehealth, Telemedicine, Transparency, Trust, User experience UX, Vaccines, Value based health, Virtual health, Vitamins, Wearable tech, Wellbeing, Workplace benefits

People are sick of being sick, the New York Times tells us. “Which virus is it?” the title of the article updating the winter 2022-23 sick-season asked. Entering 2023, U.S. health citizens face physical, financial, and mental health challenges of a syndemic, inflation, and stress – all of which will shape peoples’ demand side for health care and digital technology, and a supply side of providers challenged by tech-enabled organizations with design and data chops. Start with pandemic ennui The universal state of well-being among us mere humans is pandemic ennui: call it languishing (as opposed to flourishing), burnout, or

 

Dollar General & CHPA Collaborate to Bolster Health Consumers’ Literacy and Access for OTC Pain Meds and Self-Care

Health is “made” where we live, work, play, pray, learn….and shop. I spend a lot of time these days in the growing health/care ecosystem where retail health is broadening to address social determinants and drivers of health – namely food, transportation, broadband access, education, environment, and financial wellness – all opportunities for self-care and health engagement. For many years, I have followed the activities of CHPA, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and have participated in some of their conferences. Their recent announcement of a collaboration with Dollar General speaks to the growing role of self-care for all people.    

 

Omnichannel, Hybrid Health Care Is Happening – Let’s Bake It with Access and Equity

In just the past few months, we’ve seen the launch of Amazon Care, Instacart adding medical deliveries, and The Villages senior community welcoming virtual care to their homes. Welcome to the growing ecosystem of hybrid health care, anywhere and everywhere. In my latest post on the Medecision portal, I discuss the phenomenon and examples of early models, focusing in on Evernorth, a Cigna company.                 As we add new so-called “digital front doors” to health care delivery, we should be mindful to design in access and equity and avoid further fragmentation of an already-fragmented

 

The Food-Finance-Health Connection: Being Thankful, Giving Thanks

Food features central in any holiday season, in every one’s culture. For Thanksgiving in the United States, food plays a huge role in the history/legend of the holiday’s origins, along with the present-day celebration of the festival. At the same time, in and beyond the U.S., families’ finances will also be playing a central role in dinner-table conversations, shopping on the so-called “Black Friday” retail season (which has extended long before Friday 25th November), and in what’s actually served up on those tables. Let’s connect some dots today on food, finance and health as we enter the holiday season many

 

Men Work in Retirement for Healthy Aging; Women, for the Money – Transamerica Looks at Retirement in 2022

Due to gender pay gaps, time away from the workforce for raising children and caring for loved ones, women in the U.S. face a risky retirement outlook according to Emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Women’s Health, Money, and Retirement Preparations from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS).               As Transamerica TCRS sums up the top-line, “Societal headwinds are undermining women’s retirement security.” Simply said, by the time a woman is looking to retire, she has saved less than one-half of the money her male counterpart has put away for aging after work-life. The

 

Dr. Santa Intends to Deliver Consumer Health-Tech for the 2022 Holidays

Even as consumers’ confess a tighter spending economy for 2022 holiday shopping, peoples’ intent to buy wearable tech for health and fitness and other wellness devices appear on gifting lists in the U.S., according to the 29th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).             In general, technology will be a top-selling category for 2022 holiday gift-giving, somewhat tempered by inflation and the increased cost of living that challenge household budgets in the fourth quarter of 2022. Tech spending will be down about 6% in 2022 according to CTA’s

 

Wearable Tech for Health Tracking, Online Dating and Banking: Exploring the “Fluidity” of Peoples’ Data Privacy Views

“The security of online data is the top consideration for consumers across many forms of online activities including email, search, social media, banking, shopping and dating”….and using health apps. A new poll from Morning Consult, explained on their website, explains that For Consumers, Data Privacy Has a Fluid Definition.               Those privacy nuances and concerns vary by activity, shown in the first chart here from the study. For online banking, the most important consideration among most consumers (55%) is the privacy and security of their online data. Privacy and security of personal data was

 

Consumers’ Trust In Pharmacists As Providers Grows Along with Omnichannel Health Care

What is a “pharmacy” these days? You might have recently walked into a brick-and-mortar retail pharmacy. Or, you might have refilled a prescription to help you manage a chronic condition, online. Or, perhaps, you asked the pharmacist staffing your favorite grocery store Rx counter to give you the latest vaccine to keep COVID-19 variants at-bay. The pharmacy is all these things, and increasingly digital-first, we learn in The Rx Report: A new day in retail pharmacy, a consumer survey from CVS Health.         CVS Health, one of the two largest pharmacies operating in the U.S. in 2021

 

The Patient as Prescription Drug Payer – The GoodRx Playbook

Patients have more financial skin-in-their-healthcare-games facing high-deductibles and direct out-of-pocket costs for medical bills…including prescription drugs. I collaborated with GoodRx on a “yellow paper” discussing The Health Consumers as Payer, with implications and calls-to-action for pharma and life science companies. You can download the paper at this link.               The report is intended to be a playbook for understanding patients’ growing role as consumers and health care payers, providing insights into peoples’ home economic mindsets and how these impact a patient’s adherence to medication based on cost and perceived value. With inflation facing household

 

Home Is Where the Health Is: An Update on Connectivity, Food, and Retail

Virtually every closed-door meeting I have had in the U.S. with a client group in the past several months has had a line item on the agenda to brainstorm the impact and opportunity of care-at-home, hospital-to-home, or Care Everywhere. This has happened across many stakeholders in the evolving health/care ecosystem of suppliers, including hospital systems, health plans, grocery chains, retail pharmacy, consumer technology, digital health and tech-enabled providers, pharma and medical supply companies. On October 10, Dr. Robert Pearl, former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, published a provocative post on Forbes noting that Amazon, CVS, Walmart Are Playing Healthcare’s

 

Gallup Reveals Americans’ Views on Industry Are the Lowest Since 2008 – Implications for Healthcare and Pharma

Americans’ positive views of 25 industries in the U.S. have declined in the past year. In their latest look into consumers’ views on business in America, Gallup found that peoples’ ratings on business fell to their lowest ratings overall since 2008.           Peoples’ highest ratings of industry in American occurred in 2017 when nearly 50% of people gave business a very or somewhat positive grade. The year-on-year decline from 2021 find oil and gas at the lowest level of positivity, advertising/PR, legal, the Federal government, and pharma at the bottom of the ratings.      

 

Most Consumers Are Health and Wellness Consumers Even in Hard Financial Times, Accenture Finds

Consumers consider health and well-being as an “essential” household spending category based on new research from Accenture.             Accenture polled over 11,000 consumers in 17 countries, considering how people are faring amid “widespread uncertainty and personal financial strains,” in the firm’s words. While two in three consumers feel financially stressed, 4 in 5 intend to grow or hold their personal spending on health and fitness steady in the next year. The first chart graphs data from Accenture’s global survey. In the U.S., more granularly, 26% of consumers intend to increase spending on health and wellness

 

The Retail Health Battle Royale, Day 5 – Consumer Demands For a Health/Care Ecosystem (and What We Can Learn from Costco’s $1.50 Hot Dog)

In another factor to add into the retail health landscape, Dollar General (DG) the 80-year old retailer known for selling low-priced fast-moving consumer goods in peoples’ neighborhoods appointed a healthcare advisory panel this week. DG has been exploring its health-and-wellness offerings and has enlisted four physicians to advise the company’s strategy. One of the advisors, Dr. Von Nguyen, is the Clinical Lead of Public and Population Health at Google….tying back to yesterday’s post on Tech Giants in Healthcare.         Just about one year ago, DG appointed the company’s first Chief Medical Officer, which I covered here in

 

The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S. – A Week-Long Brainstorm, Day 3 of 5 – Apple as “Intelligent Health Guardian”

Apple wants to be your “intelligent guardian for health,” based on a 60-page paper shepherded by Jeff Williams, the company’s Chief Operating Officer.             Published last week, the paper is one of the big signals trumpeted this U.S. summer marked by the BA.5 omicron subvariant of SARS-CoV-2, inflation pressures on our household budgets, social/political tensions, and hot-hot weather. I’m folding the report into my coverage this week on the Retail Health Battle Royale today, Day 3 of my week-long series updating us on the health/care ecosystem. For the previous two days’ posts, see… Day 1

 

The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S. – A Week-Long Brainstorm, Day 2 of 5 – Amazon and One Medical

Today we review the various viewpoints on Amazon’s announced acquisition of One Medical (ONEM, aka 1life Healthcare) which has been a huge story in both health care trade publications, business news, and mainstream media outlets. Welcome to Day 2 of The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S., my week-long update of the American retail health/care ecosystem weaving the latest updates from the market and implications and import for health care consumers.       The deal was announced on 21 July, with Amazon striking the price at about $3.9 billion. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley put the deal together,

 

The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S. – A Week-Long Brainstorm, Day 1 of 5

I’ve returned to the U.S. for a couple of months, having lived in and worked from Brussels, Belgium, since October 2021 (save for about ten days in March 2022). Work and life slow down in Europe in July and August, giving us the opportunity to return to our U.S. home base, reunite with friends and family, and re-join life and living this side of the Atlantic. The timing of my return to the U.S. coincides with a retail health hurricane of big announcements shaking up the health/care ecosystem. Among these events are Amazon’s plan to acquire One Medical, Apple’s publication of

 

The Old Gays Working with Walgreens on TikTok: Breaking Down Stereotypes and Having Fun with Health

How much do I love this media campaign from Walgreens, collaborating with the foursome The Old Gays who have a growing multi-million person fan base on TikTok? How much? A whole lot! Kudos to Walgreens for creating engaging, informative, and fun! content to learn about how people can benefit from using the company’s app ….for, Ordering prescriptions (90-day supply) Receiving delivery same-day 24/7 pharmacy chat on pricing, prescription drug information, and medications. The plotline kicks off with 3 of the 4 quartet (Jessay Martin, Robert Reeves and Mick Peterson) looking for their friend Bill Lyons, who is missing from their

 

In A Declining Consumer Tech Spending Forecast, Consumer Health Tech Will Grow in 2022: Reading the CTA Tea Leaves

Supply chain challenges, inflation, and plummeting consumer economic sentiment are setting the stage for a decline in consumer electronics revenues for 2022. However, there will be some bright spots of growth for consumer tech spending, for 5G smartphones, smart home applications, gaming, and health technologies, noted in the Consumer Technology Association’s CTA U.S. Consumer Technology One-Year Industry Forecast, 2018-2023.             Underneath the overall industry spend of $503 billion, a 0.2% drop from 2021, CTA expects software, gaming, video and audio streaming spending will grow by 3.5% and hardware to fall by 1.4% this year. With

 

Living La Vida Hybrid, for Work, Shopping, Entertainment and Healthcare – Emerging from the Pandemic

With only 1 in 10 people in the U.S. thinking their lives are the same as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, about one-half of Americans believe that remote work, virtual community events, and telehealth should continue “once the pandemic ends.” As of mid-May 2022, most people in the U.S. have resumed activities like socializing with friends and neighbors in person, going to restaurants and bars, traveling, meeting with older relatives face-to-face, and returning to exercising in gyms.                     But a return-to-nearly-normal isn’t a universal phenomenon across all people in America:

 

The Higher Cost of Cookouts – Happy, Healthy Independence Day 2022

On this July 4th holiday, Americans aren’t feeling quite so financially independent on Independence Day 2022. The cost of a cookout for your family and friend group of 10 rose over $10 this year, 17% higher than in 2021, based on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual assessment of BBQing Economics on the Fourth of July.             This estimate is based on a market-basket menu that includes cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. Key factors driving up the cost of an All-American cookout include supply chain disruptions (a hangover

 

The Legacy of COVID-19 Is Shaping Consumers’ Purchases for Health-At-Home

While inflation and financial stress is depressing consumer demand for many purchases the “legacy of COVID-19” is having lost-lasting impacts on how people see their homes — especially as sites for health and wellness.                 GfK highlights the growing interest in wellbeing and device demand in The State of Consumer Technology and Durables 2002 insights from GfK. In 2021, peoples’ spending on technology and durable goods (like home appliances) grew by 15%, with several categories seeing spectacularly high growth rates — most notably entertainment and health, a category in which core wearables purchases

 

Only in America: Medical Debt Is Most Peoples’ Problem, KHN and NPR Report

When high-deductible health plans became part of health insurance design in America, they were lauded as giving patients “more skin in the game” of health care payments. The theory behind consumer-directed care was that patients-as-consumers would shop around for care, morph into rational consumers of medical services just as they would do purchasing autos or washing machines, and shift the cost-curve of American health care ever downward. That skin-in-the-game has been a risk factor for .some patients to postpone care as well as take on medical debt — the strongest predictor of which is dealing with multiple chronic conditions. “The

 

We Are Stuck On Band-Aids, Hygiene, and Self-Care: Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands 2022

We are stuck on Band-Aids and hooked on hygiene and self-care according to the Most Trusted Brands 2022 study from Morning Consult.             In 2022, the most trusted brands in the United States were Band-Aid Lysol Clorox UPS CVS Health (pharmacy) VISA Cheerios The Weather Channel Colgate, and Home Depot. These products and companies sustain trends I tracked in Years 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic when several of these were most-trusted, bolstering peoples’ lives living in, working from, and making health at home.             Four key trends underscore

 

In a Heat Wave (and Heating Up Prices), Ice Cream and Health Top of Mind – McKinsey Update

With temperatures over 90 degrees in Brussels today, In Chez S-Kahn, we’ve got fans running, iced coffee brewing, and ice cream on our minds. Thanks to McKinsey, there’s a new report informing my perspective on the ice cream and yogurt market with a lens on wellness and values.             McKinsey advises us on How to stay cool as competition heats up in ice cream and yogurt. In recessionary and stressful times, consumers often turn to small treats and low-cost luxuries. Ice cream and yogurt fit that bill for many people. But McKinsey notes that people

 

What If Costco Designed the Prescription Drugs Sales Model?

The good news about prescription drugs, in the context of medical spending in the U.S., is that 9 in 10 medicines prescribed are generics. They comprise only 3% of all U.S. healthcare spending.           But there’s bad news about prescription drugs in the context of medical spending in America. U.S. Consumers Overpay for Generic Drugs, a new paper from the Leonard Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics asserts, with recommendations to address the intermediaries who benefit from the way Americans currently pay for medicines. Generics are “an American success story,” the authors call out, bringing

 

Food, Cars, and Tech: Here’s How U.S. Consumers Rank Companies’ Reputations – the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll

We’re all about food and cars and our technology, looking at the 2022 Axios Harris Poll 2022 Reputation Rankings published this week.             I’ve curated the logos of the top 30 companies based on the Poll’s survey of 33,096 U.S. adults conducted in March and April 2022. The survey assessed peoples’ awareness of companies that either “excel or falter in society,” according to the study methodology. Here you see the top 30. The COVID-19 pandemic bolstered consumers’ awareness and call-to-action for peoples’ basic needs: food, working-from-home (thus, tech as a determinant of health and wellbeing),

 

Stress Is Playing A Big Role in Consumers’ Food Habits: Food-As-Medicine Update from IFIC

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated consumers, globally, to take on more DIY roles as well as self-care for health and well-being. In addition, anxiety and stress are mainstream across demographics and have impacted the way people select and consume food, based on findings in the 2022 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).             In this 17th annual consumer survey, IFIC points to two underlying macro trends that are re-shaping peoples’ relationship with food and health: the pandemic’s impact, and “significant” generational shifts in taste, consumption, and values about nutrition and sustainability.

 

How Health Gets Built – The Building H Index Thinking Health-By-Design

“It’s hard to be healthy in the U.S. today.” That is the underlying premise and reason for The Building H Index. Health happens outside of doctors’ offices and hospital operating rooms. Health is made in our homes, in our communities, in our daily lives as we go about working, playing, learning, and praying. Too often, in those daily life-flows, making a healthy decision is harder than defaulting to a less-healthy one. Sometimes, it’s pretty impossible given the state of, say, air quality that we breathe, lack of fresh produce and whole foods at the corner market, or seductively designed automobiles

 

In the New Inflationary Era, Gas and Health Care Costs Top Household Budget Concerns

Inflation and rising prices are the biggest problem facing America, most people told the Kaiser Family Foundation March 2022 Health Tracking Poll. Underpinning that household budget concern are gas and health care costs. Overall, 55% of people in the U.S. pointed to inflation as the top challenge the nation faces (ranging from 46% of Democrats to 70% of Republicans). Second most challenging problem facing the U.S. was Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, noted by 18% of people — from 14% of Republicans up to 23% of Democrats. The COVID-19 pandemic has fallen far down Americans’ concerns list tied third place with

 

Can a Food-As-Medicine App Extend Chronic Health Management at the Grocery Store?

Foogal, a recipe app designed to support patients’ healthy cooking and eating, launched on 24th March. In its initial version, Foogal addresses several specific diet paradigms: for patients demanding a wellness protocol, an autoimmune protocol, or wanting to address insulin resistance. Foogal got my attention via a tweet @FoogalApp on 25th March. The snippet featured a photo of a delectable Salad Lyonnaise, one of my favorite things to eat, which adds a soft-cooked egg and bacon lardons to the greens for an easy light (and delicious!) meal. Foogal was developed by Todd Knobel, who has worked in law, in plastics,

 

Brand Relevance Has A Lot To Do with Health, Wellness, and Empowerment – Listening to (the) Prophet

s in the seventh annual 2022 Brand Relevance Index from Prophet. The research developed a list of 50 companies representing what Prophet characterizes “the brands that people can’t live without in 2022.” For the 7th year in a row, Apple tops the study. Following Apple, the nine companies rounding out the top ten most relevant brands were Peloton, Spotify, Bose, Android, Instant Pot, Pixar, Fitbit, TED, and USAA. There are relative newbies in this list, representing consumers’ collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and new life-flows. Put Calm and AfterPay in that category, along with Beyond Meat, and Zelle. The

 

Michael Graves and CVS Health – A Match Made in Health Design Heaven

On the Michael Graves Design company’s website, they talk about “Design for All” and “The House and Everything in it.” “Michael Graves Design exists to offer products that create moments of joy in your life.” Prominently featured in the Health section on the homepage are “walking canes reimagined.” The company has unveiled its partnership with CVS Health to continue the architect-turned-disability rights advocate’s legacy combining brilliant design with  mainstream retail accessibility and another riff on accessibility: for health care and caregiving. Graves passed away in 2015. He continues to inspire the Michael Graves Design team/family with the mission: “By focusing

 

The Wellness Economy in 2022 Finds Health Consumers Moving from Feel-Good Luxury to Personal Survival Tactics

The Future of Wellness in 2022 is, “shifting from a ‘feel-good’ luxury to survivalism as people seek resilience,” based on the Global Wellness Institute’s forecast on this year’s look into self-care and consumer’s spending on health beyond medical care — looking beyond COVID-19. GWI published two research papers this week on The Future of Wellness and The Global Wellness Economy‘s country rankings as of February 2021. I welcomed the opportunity to spend time for a deep dive into the trends and findings with the GWI community yesterday exploring all of the data, listening through my health economics-consumer-technology lens. First, consider

 

Nutella, Wine, and COVID Tests at the Convenience Store – A Weekend Observation From Brussels

Health/care is everywhere….even at the convenience store. Yesterday afternoon, as I was picking up a bottle of milk for this morning’s coffee, I rushed to the local Carrefour Express in my neighborhood in St. Gilles, Brussels, Belgium. Sidebar: Carrefour Express is not your prototypical U.S.-styled C-store — you can find some fine Prosciutto di San Daniele in the cold case, some tasty Camembert cheese, very good wine, and just-picked tomatoes there. Still, it’s a C-store in that the brick-and-mortar model is a smaller footprint than a full grocery store, and convenient in that it’s a block from my apartment. Imagine

 

From Better for Me to Better for “We” — NielsenIQ’s New Consumer Hierarchy of Health

People around the world have made health a “proactive priority,” most important to live a longer, healthier life, to avoid preventable diseases, to protect against disease, and to look and feel healthier, according to NielsenIQ’s latest health and wellness report. As the triangle here illustrates, NielsenIQ has turned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs upside down, shifting protective and physical needs to the top rung and altruistic — the “me-to-we” ethos — at the base. Note the translations of these needs, on the ride, into the “care” flows — moving from urgent care down to self-care, preventive care, innovative care, and selfless

 

The CES 2022 Tech Trends to Watch Have Everything To Do With Health/Care

The four top trends to watch for this week at CES 2022 are transportation, space tech, sustainable technology, and digital health, based on Steve Koenig’s annual read-out that kicks off this largest annual conference featuring innovations in consumer electronics. Last night, Steve discussed these trends for media attendees, of which I am one (gratefully) participating in #CES2022 virtually from the hygienic comfort and safety of my home health hub (more on that later in this post). All four of these mega-themes impact health and well-being in some way. “Space Tech?” you  might wonder. Yes. My friend Dorit Donoviel can be

 

The 2022 Health Populi TrendCast for Consumers and Health Citizens

I cannot recall a season when so many health consumer studies have been launched into my email inbox. While I have believed consumers’ health engagement has been The New Black for the bulk of my career span, the current Zeitgeist for health care consumerism reflects that futurist mantra: “”We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run,” coined by Roy Amara, past president of Institute for the Future. That well-used and timely observation is known as Amara’s Law. This feels especially apt right “now” as we enter 2022,

 

3 in 4 Insured Americans Worried About Medical Bills — Especially Women

In the U.S., being covered by health insurance is one of the social determinants of health. Without a health plan, an uninsured person in America is far more likely to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs, and lack access to needed health care (and especially primary care). But even with health insurance coverage, most health-insured people are concerned about medical costs in America, found in a MITRE-Harris Poll on U.S. consumers’ health insurance perspectives published today. “Even those fortunate to have insurance struggle with bills that result from misunderstanding or underestimating costs of treatments and procedures,” Juliette Espinosa of

 

How Healthcare Experience Ranks Versus Other Industries (Not So Great)

The coronavirus pandemic put health care at the top of peoples’ minds all over the world. As important as health became to humans at the base of our Hierachies of Needs, in the U.S., health care industries fell to their lowest consumer satisfaction scores in two decades, we learn in the latest evaluation by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index report. I explore consumer-patient experience for hospitals, health plans and ambulatory care compared with other industries in the November 2021 Medecision Liberation blog, calling out the importance of two key factors that drove peoples’ positive perceptions of brands and products in

 

Health Plan Consumer Experience Scores Reflect Peoples’ Digital Transformation – ACSI Speaks

In the U.S., peoples’ expectations of their health care experience is melding with their best retail experience — and that’s taken a turn toward their digital and ecommerce life-flows. The American Customer Satisfaction Index Insurance and Health Care Study 2020-2021 published today, recognizing consumers’ value for the quality of health insurance companies’ mobile apps and reliability of those apps. Those digital health expectations surpass peoples’ benchmarks for accessing primary care doctors and specialty care doctors and hospitals, based on ACSI’s survey conducted among 12,274 customers via email. The study was fielded between October 2020 and September 2021. Year on year,

 

What Health Care Can Learn from Chick-fil-A, Clorox, and Chewy – Liberating Health

When we think about “3 C’s” for health care experience leadership, we might turn to Cleveland Clinic, Cigna, and CVS/health. In my latest post for the Medecision Liberation site, I point to a new trio of “C’s” to inform and inspire our patient/consumer/caregiver experience designs: Chick-fil-A, Clorox, and Chewy. Why these three? I explain, “Whether you share enthusiasm for these brands or not, news outlets and industry observers have noted these three organizations have weathered the pandemic well when it comes to improving the consumer experience and increasing customer engagement and satisfaction.”  What health care can learn: These organizations streamlined

 

The Risk of Food and Nutrition Security in America – A Bipartisan Concern and Call-to-Action from the BPC

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in the U.S., a situation that was already challenging for millions of American families before the public health crisis emerged. While several Congressional and administrative actions were implemented in 2020 and the first half of 2021, the issue of food insecurity — defined as being unable to acquire enough food due to insufficient money or resources — remains a tragic aspect of daily living for many Americans — and especially for children who live in households where jobs have been lost and incomes reduced. Nutrition security has also been a health risk where people

 

New Primary Care, Retail and Tech Entrants Motivating Hospitals to Grow Consumer Chops

Rising costs, generational shifts, digital transformation, and fast-growing investments in new health care models and technologies are forcing change in the legacy health care, noted in the State of Consumerism in Healthcare 2021: Regaining Momentum, from Kaufman, Hall & Associates. As the title of Kaufman Hall’s sixth annual report suggests, health care consumers are evolving — even if the traditional healthcare system hasn’t uniformly responded in lock step with more demanding patients. Kaufman Hall analyzed 100 health care organizations in this year’s consumerism survey to assess their readiness to embrace consumer-centric strategies, understand how the industry prioritizes these approaches, evaluate

 

Why Is So Much “Patient Experience” Effort Focused on Financial Experience?

Financial Experience (let’s call it FX) is the next big thing in the world of patient experience and health care. Patients, as health consumers, have taken on more of the financial risk for health care payments. The growth of high-deductible health plans as well as people paying more out-of-pocket exposes patients’ wallets in ways that implore the health care industry to serve up a better retail experience for patients. But that just isn’t happening. One of the challenges has been price transparency, which is the central premise of this weekend’s New York Times research-rich article by reporters Sarah Kliff and

 

Pondering Prescription Drugs: Pricing Rx and Going Direct-to-Consumer

There is one health care public policy issue that unites U.S. voters across political party: that is the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. With the price of medicines in politicians’ and health citizens’ cross-hairs, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have responded in many ways to the Rx pricing critiques from consumers (via, for example, Consumer Reports/Consumers Union and AARP), hospitals (through the American Hospital Association), and insurance companies (from AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans). The latest poll from the University of Chicago/Harris Public Policy and the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research quantifies the issue cross-party, finding that 74%

 

Health Insurance in Aisle 3: Why a Grocery Chain is Working on Medicare

“You can trust us to help you find the right Medicare coverage for you and your lifestyle,” the tagline reads. What kind of organization would be behind this campaign: a healthcare navigator company, an insurance company, or a social services agency? In fact, it’s a grocery store called Hy-Vee, which launched the “Medicare Aisle” to help consumers living in the eight states in which the chain’s 240+ stores operate to sort through the daunting labyrinth of Medicare choices. “Hy-Vee is a trusted leader in the health and wellness space, and as a retail and specialty pharmacy provider, we are deeply

 

Doctors’ Offices Morph into Bill Collectors As Patients Face Growing Out-Of-Pocket Costs

In the U.S., patients have assumed the role of health care payors with growing co-payments, coinsurance amounts, and deductibles pushing peoples’ out-of-pocket costs up. This has raised the importance of price transparency, which is based on the hypothesis that if patients had access to personally-relevant price/cost information from doctors and hospitals for medical services, and pharmacies and PBMs for prescription drugs, the patient would behave as a consumer and shop around. That hypothesis has not been well proven-out: even though more health care “sellers” on the supply side have begun to post price information for services, patients still haven’t donned

 

Pharmacies Garner Retail Health Love in the Pandemic – Update from J.D. Power

When we say the word “pharmacy,” we might picture the Main Street brick-and-mortar chain drugstore that dispenses medicines from behind the counter in the far back of the building, and sweet and salty snacks at the front by the cashier. In fact, “pharmacy” is the jumping off point for the expanding and increasingly beloved retail health ecosystem, J.D. Power found in the company’s latest 2021 U.S. Pharmacy Study. Each year, J.D. Power assesses consumers’ perceptions of pharmacies by category, including those retail chains along with supermarket operated, mass merchants, and mail order channels. This is the 13th year of the

 

Dollar General, the Latest Retail Health Destination?

“What if…healthcare happened where we live, work, play, pray and shop, delivering the highest levels of retail experience?” I asked and answered in my book HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. The chapter called “The new retail health” began with that “what if,” and much of the book responded with the explanation of patients evolving toward health consumers and, ultimately, health citizens empowered and owning their health and care. This week, Dollar General announced the hiring of its first Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Albert Wu. With that announcement, America’s largest dollar-store chain makes clear its ambitions to join a

 

Digital Inclusion As Upstream Health Investment

Without access to connectivity during the pandemic, too many people could not work for their living, attend school and learn, connect with loved ones, or get health care. The COVID-19 era has shined a bright light on what some of us have been saying since the advent of the Internet’s emergence in health care: that digital literacies and connectivity are “super social determinants of health” because they underpin other social determinants of health, discussed in Digital inclusion as a social determinant of health, published in Nature’s npj Digital Medicine. On the downside, lack of access to digital tools and literacies

 

Reimagining Life After the Pandemic – Seeking Health, Safety, Sustainability, and Trust

COVID-19 reshaped people around the world, one-half of whom are re-defining their personal purpose and life-goals. This sense of purpose extends to peoples’ willingness to buy or patronize companies who do not meet their needs for health, safety, sustainability and trust. For example, two in three of these people would switch travel brands if they felt health and safety weren’t up to par, discovered in Life Reimagined – Mapping the motivations that matter for today’s consumers, from Accenture’s Voices of Change series. In May 2021, Accenture polled over 25,000 consumers globally, in 22 countries, and found that one-half of people

 

Color Me Healthy – Pantone’s Forecast on Post-Pandemic Well-Being and Design

Post-pandemic, the consumer’s priority purchases are grocery, nesting, and health, according to David Shah, a leading thinker about social and design trends. David presented the latest Pantone forecast on color and society in NewTopia – A Balance of Color Opposites – Color for a Post-COVID World this week. I had the opportunity to attend the session, and want to share the health and wellness-related insights David shared in his fast-paced view on the role of color in bolstering wellbeing and community looking out to 2022/23. For context, Pantone plays a role in your life you might not realize. In health

 

Post-Pandemic, U.S. Healthcare is Entering a “Provide More Care For Less” Era – Pondering PwC’s 2022 Forecast

In the COVID-19 pandemic, health care spending in the U.S. increased by a relatively low 6.0% in 2020. This year, medical cost trend will rise by 7.0%, expected to decline a bit in 2022 according to the annual study from PwC Health Research Institute, Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2022. What’s “behind these numbers” are factors that will increase medical spending (the “inflators” in PwC speak) and the “deflators” that lower costs. Looking around the future corner, the inflators are expected to be: A COVID-19 “hangover,” leading to increased health care services utilization Preparations for the next pandemic, and

 

Americans’ Views on Food Have Been Re-Shaped by the Pandemic: Think Security, Immunity, and Sustainability

As vaccinations jabbed into peoples’ arms in the U.S. continue to immunize health citizens from contracting the coronavirus, millions of folks are looking forward to getting back inside restaurants to enjoy meals out, as well as un-masking when grocery shopping. But people in the U.S. love their food both outside and inside the home: about one-half of people in the U.S. are continuing to cook at home more, according to the 2021 Food & Health Survey published today by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). This sixteenth annual report is a go-to for those of us in the health/care ecosystem who

 

Health and Getting Outside – What the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 Brands Mean for Health/Care

We want to go outside, drive our cars, shop for groceries, stay and get healthy. These are the key themes coming out of the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 on the most visible brands with high (and low) reputations among U.S. consumers. In the top-ranked “excellent” and “very good” brands numbered 1 through 50, we find five core health care brands that were most visible to U.S. consumers: Moderna ranked #3, Pfizer #7, CVS Health #24, Walgreens #46, and Kaiser Permanente #47. The only pure healthcare brand in the bottom 50 was Johnson & Johnson at #72, between Dollar General

 

And the Oscar Goes To….Power to the Patients!

Health care has increased its role in popular culture over the years. In movies in particular, we’ve seen health care costs and hassles play featured in plotlines in As Good as it Gets [theme: health insurance coverage], M*A*S*H [war and its medical impacts are hell], and Philadelphia [HIV/AIDS in the era of The Band Played On], among dozens of others. And this year’s Oscar winner for leading actor, Anthony Hopkins, played The Father, who with his family is dealing with dementia. [The film, by the way, garnered six nominations and won two]. When I say “Oscar” here on the Health

 

How Footwear Became Our Favorite Apparel Item in the Pandemic

Our feet have become an important health focus during the pandemic, as the importance of exercise-as-medicine and mental health helper has looked to walking, running, and biking as good-for-us physical activities. The Mayo Clinic published an informative piece on Feet and the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Cleveland Clinic posted advice on exercising during the pandemic earlier this month with the strong recommendation of walking. So it makes sense that the apparel category whose brand equity grew most between 2020 and 2021 was footwear, announced in the Brand Finance Apparel 50. Each year, Brand Finance evaluates the value of “brands,” as

 

Trust-Busted: The Decline of Trust in Technology and What It Means for Health

Trust in the technology industry has crashed to an all-time low based on the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. As Richard Edelman, CEO, concisely asserted, “Tech loses its halo.” The first chart shows the one-year trend on trust across industries through U.S. consumers’ eyes. Most industries lost citizens’ trust between 2020 and 2021, most notably, Technology, dropping the greatest margin at 9 points Retail, falling 7 points, Entertainment. falling 5 points, and, Fashion and automotive declining by 4 points. Several sectors’ trust equity rose in the year, especially healthcare growing by 8 points and food and beverage rose slightly by 2

 

How Grocery and Retail Companies Are Delivering Health and Healthcare

The Wall Street Journal featured the grocery chain Kroger in an article yesterday titled, COVID-19 Vaccinations, Tests Give Boost to Kroger’s Health Ambitions. “With 2,250 pharmacies and 220 clinics largely in the Midwest and the southern U.S., Kroger is the fourth-largest pharmacy operator by script count,” the Journal noted, adding details about Walmart, CVS Health, and Walgreens all fast-expanding their respective health care footprints. As more consumers view their homes as personal and safe health havens, there is no shortage of suppliers in the food, retail, and mobility sectors working fast to meet that demand for convenient and accessible services.

 

The Continued Erosion of Trust in the Age of COVID

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans are still in “survival mode,” according to an update of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, Trust and the Coronavirus in the U.S. Updating the company’s annual Trust Barometer, Edelman conducted a new round of interviews in the U.S. among 2,500 people in early March. [For context, you can read my take on the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer published during the World Economic Forum in January 2021 here in Health Populi].  The first chart shows that two in three people in the U.S. are still in a pandemic mindset, worried about safety and

 

Value-Based Health Care Needs All Stakeholders at the Table – Especially the Patient

2021 is the 20th anniversary of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID). On March 10th, V-BID held its annual Summit, celebrating the Center’s 20 years of innovation and scholarship. The Center is led by Dr. Mark Fendrick, and has an active and innovative advisory board. [Note: I may be biased as a University of Michigan graduate of both the School of Public Health and Rackham School of Graduate Studies in Economics].   Some of the most important areas of the Center’s impact include initiatives addressing low-value care, waste in U.S. health care, patient assistance programs, Medicare