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Fighting Cancer with Hormel Vital Cuisine – Food as Medicine Update

Think “Hormel,” and you may have visions of SPAM, Chi-Chi’s salsa, Skippy peanut butter, and Dinty Moore corned beef hash. So what’s Hormel doing in the title of a Health Populi post, anyway, you might ask? Like many food companies, Hormel is broadening its product portfolio expanding with health. The company isn’t just moving to healthy eating for wellness’s sake, but boldly going where most food companies haven’t yet gone: developing products for people battling cancer. Vital Choices, a well-titled line of frozen meals, was developed by Hormel in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Nutrition Consortium, the Culinary Institute

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Fitness Wearables Are Popular on Black Friday 2016

Thanksgiving is about gratitude, family and food, hopefully in abundance. In millions of American households, Thanksgiving has also come to mean holiday shopping in the form of deep discounts starting as early as 3 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Holiday shopping has become something of a competitive sport for value-motivated consumers, and fitness tracking devices will be a big seller for gift-giving. Think of this phenomenon as gifting connected and digital health for the holidays, and part of the morphing retail health landscape beyond the pharmacy and into Big Box, consumer electronics, and discount stores. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) published

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The Patient Is The Best Sensor – Consumers At the Center of Health

“The patient is the best sensor,” asserted Jamie Heywood, founder of Patients Like Me, during the perennial meeting sponsored by PwC, the 180° Health Forum. This event featured several panels of PwC’s curated group of so-called “provocateurs” in healthcare, and I was grateful to be one of nine selected for the event. Heywood joined Dr. Leanna Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, and me in a panel called, “Strange Bedfellows or Soul Mates? The New Dating Game in Health.” The theme of our collective brainstorm was how collaborations across the ecosystem could help make health and healthcare better. The drawing is

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Digital Health Continues to Grow at CES 2017

I attended CES Unveiled in New York this week, which is a preview of what will be featured at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2017. CES, previously known as the Consumer Electronics Show, is celebrating a 50 year anniversary, having been born in Manhattan in 1967 when transistor radios, stereos, and black-and-white TVs were all the rage. Today, CES is the world’s largest innovation event, and the longest-lived. 10 of the original 1967 exhibitors still show at CES, including 3M, Philips, Sharp, SONY, Toshiba, and Westinghouse, among others. Meet George Jetson, who might have been an attendee at

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Healthcare Reform in President Trump’s America – A Preliminary Look

It’s the 9th of November, 2016, and Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States of America. On this morning after #2016Election, Health Populi looks at what we know we know about President Elect-Trump’s health policy priorities. Repeal-and-replace has been Mantra #1 for Mr. Trump’s health policy. With all three branches of the U.S. government under Republican control in 2018, this policy prescription may have a strong shot. The complication is that the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare in Mr. Trump’s tweet) includes several provisions that the newly-insured and American health citizens really value, including: Extending health

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Self-Care Is the Best Healthcare Reform

The greater a person’s level of health engagement, the better their health outcome will be. Evidence is growing on the return-on-investment for peoples’ health activation and how healthy they are. That ROI is both in survival (mortality) and quality of life (morbidity), as well as hard-dollar savings — personally bending-the-healthcare-cost-curve. But people are more likely to engage in “health” than “healthcare.” We’d rather ingest food-as-medicine than a prescription drug, use walking in a lovely park for exercise, and laugh while we’re learning about how to manage our health insurance benefits. Thus, Campbell’s Soup Company and Hormel are expanding healthy offerings,

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Consumers Feel More Respect from Personal Care and Grocery Brands Than Pharma or Insurance

People feel like get-no-respect Rodney Dangerfield when they deal with health insurance, government agencies, or pharma companies. Consumers feel much more love from personal care and beauty companies, grocery and fitness, according to a brand equity study by a team from C Space, published in Harvard Businss Review. As consumer-directed health care (high deductibles, first-dollar payments out-of-pocket) continues to grow, bridging consumer trust and values will be a critical factor for building consumer market share in the expanding retail health landscape. Nine of the top 10 companies C Space identified with the greatest “customer quotient” are adjacent in some way to health:

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A New Good Housekeeping Seal for Healthy Food

If you need more proof that mainstream consumers are seeking health through the food they buy, look no further than this announcement about the new Good Housekeeping nutrition lab and launch of the new emblem:  “nutritionist approved.” The effort is underpinned by the Good Housekeeping Food and Nutrition Brand Lab Incubator, located in the GH Institute in New York City. The goal of the program is to empower consumers to “confidently navigate crowded supermarket shelves and make healthier purchases.” Ultimately, GH hopes to inspire people to make healthier food choices, and to inform food manufacturers with healthy product development and brand

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All I Want For Christmas Is A Health Tracker – CTA on Shopping Tech for the Holidays

Technology is high on U.S. consumers’ holiday shopping lists for the 2016 holiday season, according to the CTA (Consumer Technology Association). And wearable activity trackers are a fast-growing segment of consumer technology purchases expected in shoppers’ carts (both physical and online virtual) this fourth quarter of 2016, CTA notes in its 23rd Annual Holiday Outlook consumer survey research. The line graph illustrates the hot categories in this year’s holiday gift mix, led by smart phones (in red), tablets, laptops, and video game systems. But the proportion of people intending to purchase smartwatches now ties with video game system sales, closely followed

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Looking for Amazon in Healthcare

  Consumers have grown accustomed to Amazon, and increasingly to the just-in-time convenience of Amazon Prime. Today, workers who sign onto employee benefit portals are looking for Amazon-style convenience, access, and streamlined experiences, found in the Aflac Workforces Report 2016. Aflac polled 1,900 U.S. adults employed full or part time in June and July 2016 to gauge consumers’ views on benefit selections through the workplace. Consumers have an overall angst and ennui about health benefits sign-ups: 72% of employees say reading about benefits is long, complicated, or stressful 48% of people would rather do something unpleasant like talking to their ex or

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Tracking for Health in America: More Men Than Women, More Young Than Old

  1 in 3 consumers track health or fitness via an app, wearable technology, or smartwatch, according to GfK’s global survey on Health and fitness tracking published in September 2016. The key reasons people monitor health or fitness are to maintain or improve physical condition/fitness (for 55%) and to motivate oneself to exercise (for 50%), across the 16 countries GfK surveyed. Improving energy level, feeling motivated to eat and drink more healthfully, improving sleep, making tracking part of a daily routine, losing weight, and being more productive were cited as reasons to health-track by at least one-fourth of health citizens

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Let’s Go Healthcare Shopping!

Healthcare is going direct-to-consumer for a lot more than over-the-counter medicines and retail clinic visits to deal with little Johnny’s sore throat on a Sunday afternoon. Entrepreneurs recognize the growing opportunity to support patients, now consumers, in going shopping for health care products and services. Those health consumers are in search of specific offerings, in accessible locations and channels, and — perhaps top-of-mind — at value-based prices as defined by the consumer herself. (Remember: value-based healthcare means valuing what matters to patients, as a recent JAMA article attested). At this week’s tenth annual Health 2.0 Conference, I’m in the zeitgeist

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The Reshaping Medical Tourism Market: More US Patients Seek Lower-Priced Care Overseas

More U.S. patients are faced with spending more out-of-pocket for health care services, to meet high-deductible health plans and rationally spend their health savings account investments. As rational economic men and women, some are seeking care outside of the United States where many find transparently priced, high-value, lower-cost healthcare. Check out the table from the Medical Tourism Association, and you can empathize with cash-paying patients looking for, say, gastric bypass surgery or a heart valve replacement. My latest column in the Huffington Post discussed this trend, which points first to the Cleveland Clinic — a top-tier American healthcare brand that’s

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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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Medical Tourism On A Cruise Ship

Health is everywhere: where we live, work, play, and learn, as I’ve often written here on Health Populi. While I’ve also analyzed the market for medical tourism over the past twenty years, this week I’ve learned that it extends to the cruise travel industry along with hospitals and clinics around the world. I had the pleasure of meeting up this week with Hannah Jean Taylor, Manager of the Mandara Spa on Norwegian Cruise Line‘s ship, The Norwegian Breakaway. This vessel accommodates nearly 4,000 passengers who enjoy the services of over 1,600 staff members in the hotel, entertainment, and operational crews.

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What UPS Knows About Retail Shopping Applies to Health

  Some 18% of U.S. consumers use a wearable device, according to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey. UPS researched tech-savvy shoppers with an eye to understanding where and how people buy stuff – and of course, how they ship it given the company’s core logistics business. (“Tech-savvy” in this study means consumers had purchased at least two items online in a typical 3-month period). Overall, Millennials adopt devices and do more tech-shopping compared with other generations, but UPS notes that other groups are indeed shopping for tech and shipping it, too. Millennials are leading the way,

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Employers Changing Health Care Delivery – Health Reform At Work

Large employers are taking more control over health care costs and quality by pressuring changes to how care is actually delivered, based on the results from the 2017 Health Plan Design Survey sponsored by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Health care cost increases will average 5% in 2017 based on planned design changes, according to the top-line of the study. The major cost drivers, illustrated in the wordle, will be specialty pharmacy (discussed in yesterday’s Health Populi), high cost patient claims, specific conditions (such as musculoskeletal/back pain), medical inflation, and inpatient care. To temper these medical trend increases,

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Most US Doctors Say They Ration Patients’ Healthcare

Rationing has long been seen as a common practice in national, single-payer health systems like the UK’s National Health Service and Canada’s national health insurance program (known as “Medicare”).  However, over half of U.S. physicians say they ration care to patients. In a peer-reviewed column in the Journal of General Internal Medicine published in July 2016, Dr. Robert Sheeler and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, University of Iowa, and University of Michigan, found that 53% of physicians surveyed personally “refrained” in the past six months from using specific clinical services that would have provided the “best patient care” due to cost.

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The Future of Retail Health in 2027

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

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The Connected Fitness Consumer

Personal fitness equipment is getting connected in the growing Internet of Things ecosystem (IoT), and fitness enthusiasts are getting more digitally connected well beyond their wristband tracking device. A survey conducted by ECRM and HellaWella, a healthy living portal, looked into fitness consumers’ digital habits and found a health-engaged cohort that’s online in the Web 1.0 world — sharing workout tips in social media communities but not so much product information. Product information is still learned Old School-wise, via product websites, traditional magazines, from peers and word-of-mouth (offline), and trying new gear out at the gym in real time. This

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US Health Care Prices Would Be Sticker-Shocking For Europeans

The average hospital cost per day in the U.S. is $5,220. In Switzerland it’s $4,781, and in Spain that inpatient day looks like a bargain at $424. An MRI in the U.S. runs, on average, $1,119. In the UK, that MRI is $788, and in Australia, $215, illustrated in the first chart. Drug prices are strikingly greater in the U.S. versus other developed nations, as shown in the first chart for Xarelto. If you live in the U.S. and have a television tuned in during the six o’clock news, chances are you’ve seen an ad for this drug featuring Arnold

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In Healthcare, Pharmacists and Doctors Most Trusted. Insurance Execs and Congress? Not.

When consumers consider the many stakeholder organizations in healthcare, a majority trust pharmacists first, then doctors and dentists. Hospital and health insurance execs, and members of Congress? Hardly, according to a survey from Meyocks, a marketing consultancy. Meyocks conducted the survey via email among 1,170 US adults, 18 years of age and older. This survey correspondends well with the most recent Gallup Poll on most ethical professions, conducted in December 2015. In that study, pharmacists, nurses and doctors come out on top, with advertisers (“Mad Men”), car salespeople, and members of Congress at the bottom, as shown in the second

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Health Care Reform: President Obama Pens Progress in JAMA

“Take Governor John Kasich’s explanation for expanding Medicaid: ‘For those that live in the shadows of life, those who are the least among us, I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored. We can help them.’” So quotes President Barack Obama in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, in today’s online issue. #POTUS penned, United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps. The author is named as “Barack Obama, JD,” a nod to the President’s legal credentials. Governor Kasich, a Republican, was one of 31 Governors who

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Healthcare Consumerism? Not So Fast, Alegeus Finds

Millions of U.S. patients have more financial skin in the American health care game. But are they behaving like the “consumers” they are assumed to be as members in consumer-directed health plans? Not so much, yet, explained John Park, Chief Strategy Officer at Alegeus, during a discussion of his company’s 2016 Healthcare Consumerism Index. This research is based on an online survey of over 1,000 U.S. healthcare consumers in April 2016. Alegeus looks at healthcare consumerism across two main dimensions: healthcare spending and healthcare saving. As the chart summarizes, consumers show greater engagement and focus on buying a TV or car, choosing

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What Financial Health Means to Me: It’s Baked Into Wellness

Today is Financial Wellness Day. Do you know how financially well you are? Let me take a crack at that answer, even though I haven’t seen your bank account (which you may not even have as over 20% of people in the US are, as financial services companies would call you “un-banked” or “under-banked”.) You have some level of fiscal stress, ranging from a little to a lot. You aren’t taking all of your summer vacation your employer extends to you. You’re spending around $1 in every $5 of your household budget on health care. And your sleep isn’t as

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Will the Big Box Store Be Your Health Provider?

“Gas ‘N’ Health Care” is one of my most-used cartoons these days as I talk with health/care ecosystem stakeholders about the growing and central role of consumers in health care. You may be surprised to learn that the brilliant cartoonist Michael Maslin created this image back in 1994. That’s 22 years ago. When I first started using this image in my meetings with health care folks, they’d all giggle and think, ‘isn’t that funny?’ Legacy health care players — hospitals, doctors, Pharma, and medical device companies — aren’t laughing at this anymore. At a Costco a 20 minutes’ drive from

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Prescriptions for Food: the New Medicine

Hippocrates is often quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” While some researchers argue that Hippocrates knew the difference between ‘real’ medicine and clinical therapy, there’s no doubt he appreciated the social determinant of health and wellness that food was 1,000 years ago and continues to be today. Taking a page, or prescription note, from the good doctor’s Rx pad, food retailers, healthcare providers, local food banks, and State healthcare programs are working the food-as-medicine connection to bolster public health. One approach to food-as-medicine is promoting the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables — the

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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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Healthcare Costs for a Family of Four Will Be $25,826 in 2016

If you had exactly $25,826 in your pocket today, would you rather buy a new Chrysler 200 sedan, send a son or daughter to a year of college at Wake Forest University, or pay for your family’s health care in an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization? Welcome to the annual 2016 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), one of the most important health economic studies I’ve relied on for many years. This year’s underlying question is, “Who cooked up this expensive recipe?” posed in the report’s title. The key statistics in this year’s MMI are that: Healthcare costs for a typical family of four

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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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One in Two People Use Wearable Tech in 2016

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

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GoHealthEvents, An Online Source For Consumer Retail Health Opportunities

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

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Big and Bigger Pharma – Politics, Pricing and Patients

Pressures on the pharmaceutical industry are coming from every stakeholder touchpoint, driving companies to merge, set prices high for short-term gains, and (finally) put more resources toward providing patients services. Let’s call out just a few of the events from the past couple of weeks which, together, paint the current rocky landscape for pharma and life science companies: Last week on April 28th, termed “healthcare’s $45 billion day,” three big M&A deals hit the financial markets: Abbott sought to acquire St. Jude Medical (worth $30 bn alone), AbbVie looked to buy Stemcentrx for just under $6 bn, and Sanofi tagged

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Financial Wellness Declines In US, Even As Economy Improves

American workers are feeling financial stress and uncertainty, struggling with health care costs, and seeking support for managing finances. 75% of employees feel financially insecure, with 60% feeling stressed about their financial situation, according to the 2016 Workplace Benefits Report, based on consumer research conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The overall feeling of financial wellness fell between 2013 and 2015. 75% of U.S. workers don’t feel secure (34% “not very secure” and 41% “not at all secure”), with the proportion of workers identifying as “not at all secure” growing from 31% to 41%. Financial wellness was defined for this

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Healthcare Vs New Entrants: A $1.5 T Problem

There’s an annual $1.5 trillion in revenues for the legacy healthcare system at stake by 2025, at risk of transferring to new entrants keen to please consumers, streamline physician practices, and provide new-new health insurance plans. A team from PwC has characterized this challenge in their strategy+business article, The Coming $1.5 Trillion Shift in Healthcare. Based on their survey of healthcare industry stakeholders and analyzing their economic model, the PwC team developed three scenarios about the 2025 healthcare market in the U.S. These are supply-driven, demand-driven, and equilibrium. The exhibit details each of these possible futures across various industry stakeholder

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The Patient-Physician Experience Gap

As patients continue to grow health consumer muscles, their ability to vote with their feet for health care services and products grows. That’s why it’s crucial for health care providers to understand how patients perceive their quality and service levels, explained in Patient Experience: It’s Time to Rethink the Consumer Healthcare Journey, a survey report from GE Healthcare Camden Group and Prophet, a brand and marketing consultancy. 3 in 4 frequent healthcare consumers say they are frustrated with their services. One-half of less-frequent patients are frustrated. Patients and physicians are on different pages when it comes to evaluating the health care

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The Rise and Rise of (Specialty) Prescription Drug Prices

Prices for the most commonly used branded prescription drugs grew from a base index of $100 in 2008 to to $264 in 2015, based on the Express Scripts 2015 Drug Trend Report. This is illustrated by the upwardly-sloping blue line in the chart. In contrast, the market basket of the most commonly used generic drugs fell from the $100 index in 2008 to $29.73, shown by the declining black line in the graph. The $112.05 is calculated from a market basket of commonly purchased household goods which cost $100 in 2008, a relatively flat line which puts the 264% rise in

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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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The Link Between Eating and Financial Health

People who more consistently track their calories and food intake are more likely to be fiscally fit than people who do not, suggesting a link between healthy eating and financially wellness. I learned this through a survey conducted in February 2016 among 4,118 people using the Lose It! mobile app, which enables people to track their daily nutrition. Some 25 million people have downloaded Lose It! The app is one of the most consistently-used mobile health tools available in app stores. The Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences has explored the financial impact of improved health behaviors, asserting that,

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Digital Food

When I say “Fitbit,” you may think, “digital health.” When I mention “Gatorade,” “Nestle,” and “Dannon,” you might think, “drink,” “chocolate,” and “yogurt.” But soon, the phrase “digital health” will come to mind. That’s because a growing list of food manufacturers is looking to digital technologies to bake (or cook, blend, or mix) health into their value propositions. “Gatorade Taps Into Tech-Thirsty Consumers” is an article published in today’s Wall Street Journal, page B1 in the Business & Tech section of the newspaper. Mike Estrel writes that Gatorade is going high tech, working on a “smart cap” bottle with a microchip

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

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

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Tying Health IT to Consumers’ Financial Health and Wellness

As HIMSS 2016, the annual conference of health information technology community, convenes in Vegas, an underlying market driver is fast-reshaping consumers’ needs that go beyond personal health records: that’s personal health-financial information and tools to help people manage their growing burden of healthcare financial management. There’s a financial risk-shift happening in American health care, from payers and health insurance plan sponsors (namely, employers and government agencies) to patients – pushing them further into their role as health care consumers. The burden of health care costs weighs heavier on younger U.S. health citizens, based on a survey from the Xerox Healthcare

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Telehealth Comes of Age at HIMSS 2016

Telehealth will be in the spotlight at HIMSS 2016, the biggest annual conference on health information technology (HIT) that kicks off on 29th February 2016 in Las Vegas – one of the few convention cities that can handle the anticipated crowd of over 50,000 attendees. Some major pre-HIMSS announcements relate to telehealth: American Well, one of the most mature telehealth vendors, is launching a software development kit (SDK) which will enable  The new videoconferencing option can simultaneously connect patients with multiple physicians and specialists, and the SDK is designed to enable users to incorporate telemedicine consults into patient portals and

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What Zero Kilometers Means for Food and Health

Italians get the food=health connection as a natural everyday behavior. So it’s no surprise that one of the fast-selling books in Italy’s librerias is about Slow Food – a movement that’s celebrating its 30th anniversary in that hot book by Carlo Petrini, a father of the Slow Food organization. I took the photograph this evening peering into a shop window during our post-dinner walk along the Via Gucciardini past the Giunti al Punto bookstore. [In full transparency, I’ve been a long-time member of this organization, represented by the little red snail icon.] The book has a three-word title: Buono, Pulito, Giusto. This

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Beauty Meets Pharma in Retail Health – At Coin in Florence

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

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For Health, Viva Italia!

La salute prima de tutto! Health is first of all!  I am on holiday with my favorite person in the world, my husband, and we are Italophiles. He comes by that bias genetically, and I through loving him and sharing so many joyful, enchanting experiences in la Bella Italia over our many years of marriage. The day before flying to Italy, Dr. Michael Painter, Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, posted a link on his Facebook page to this wonderful explanation of why Italy ranks as the second-healthiest country in the world, just after Singapore. The rankings

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Health Consumers Look For Cost and Convenience

In a growing on-demand society, coupled with a burden of more out-of-pocket health care costs, U.S.health consumers tend to vote with their pocketbooks for healthcare based on cost and convenience, at least when it comes to prescription drug demand, according to the Finn Futures Health Poll conducted by Finn Partners. The survey was conducted in November 2015 among 1,000 U.S. online adults. 51% of consumers have been with their current health plans and primary care physicians for three years or less, which Finn Partners sees as a sign that brand loyalty isn’t a top motivation for health consumers signing on

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Improving the Patient Experience in Legacy Health Systems – My Start-Up Health Interview

The so-called legacy healthcare system are the incumbents in American health care — hospitals, physician practices, pharma, health plans, and other organizations that have long-served and been reimbursed by traditional volume-based payment. Patients, now morphing in to health consumers, look to these stakeholders to provide new levels of service, accessibility, convenience, transparency and value — the likes of which people find in their daily life in other market sectors. Those consumer demands are pressuring the health system as we know it in many new ways, which I discussed with Unity Stoakes, Co-Founder of Startup Health, at the Health 2.0 Conference in

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

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

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Getting Beyond Consumer Self-Rationing in High-Deductible Health Plans

The rising cost of health care for Americans continues to contribute to self-rationing care in the forms of not filling prescriptions, postponing necessary services and tests, and avoiding needed visits to doctors. Furthermore, health care costs are threatening the livelihood of most American families, according to the Pioneer Institute. “What Will U.S. Households Pay for Health Care in the Future?” asks the title of a study by the Institute, noting that health care costs for an American family of average income could increase annually to $13,213 by 2025 — and as high as $18,251. Pioneer calculates that this forecasted spend will

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Retailers will morph into health destinations in 2016

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

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The 2016 THINK-Health Health/Care Forecast

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

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Prescription Drug Costs Will Be In Health Benefits Bullseye in 2016

Prescription drug costs have become a front-and-center health benefits cost issue for U.S. employers in 2015, and in 2016 the challenge will be directly addressed through more aggressive utilization management (such as step therapy and prior authorization), tools to enable prescription intentions like DUR, and targeting fraud, waste and abuse. Consumers, too, will be more financially responsible for cost-sharing prescription drugs, in terms of deductibles and annual out-of-pocket limits, as described in the PBMI 2015-206 Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Report, sponsored by Takeda. The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute has published this report for 15 years, which provides neutral, detailed survey

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TIME Sees Lots of Health in the Best Inventions of 2015

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

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The Internet of Healthy Things According to Dr. Kvedar

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

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The Future 100 from JWT – Health Is Everywhere in 2016

Food + Drink, Beauty, Tech + Innovation, Retail, Lifestyle…JWT pulls out their crystal ball for 2016, and I see health, everywhere. The Future 100 – Trends and Change to Watch in 2016 is J. Walter Thompson Intelligence Innovation Group’s annual trend forecast, which I highly value and mine each year to help THINK-Health continue to hone our own environmental analyses for health and healthcare. [Here’s what I wrote one year ago about JWT’s 2015 forecast]. Health is baked into JWT’s 2016 trendscape, well beyond their “Health” chapter. Even the report’s introduction is health-flavored: “As forecasters, we’re watching the rapid metabolism

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Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Healthcare Consumers: McKinsey

“There’s no such thing as a healthcare consumer. No one really wants to consume healthcare,” naysayers tell me, critical of my all health-consmer-all-the-time bully pulpit. But, touché to my health consumer-critics! I’ve more evidence refuting the healthcare consumer detractors from McKinsey in their research report, Debunking common myths about healthcare consumerism, from the team working in McKinsey’s Healthcare Systems and Services Practice. Their survey research among over 11,000 U.S. adults uncovered 8 myths about the emerging American health consumer, including: Healthcare is different from other industries Consumers know what they want from healthcare and what drives their decisions Most consumers

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The U.S. Will Cover the Bulk of Medicines Spending in 2020

U.S. spending on medicines will approach $590 billion in 2020, increasing 34% over 2015, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics projects in its forecast, Global Medicines Use in 2020. Growth in spending will be attributable to innovation (new products), price increases and some patent losses of exclusivity (e.g., branded drugs going generic). The U.S. will cover the bulk of drugs spending in 2020 at 41% of the world medicines market, shown in the first pie in the first chart. U.S. medicines spending dwarfs any other country or region in the world, including China which is expected to account for 11% of

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Activity Wearables on Black Friday 2015 – Doorbusters Abound

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

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The Average Price of a New Specialty Drug Exceeds Median U.S. Annual Income; and a Tweet from Pam Anderson

The average price for a specialty drug was $53,384 in 2013; the average household income was $52,250. Thus, even allocating 100% of a family’s annual earnings to pay for a drug wouldn’t stretch far enough to cover it in 2013, nor would it do so today in 2015. This sober health economic artifact comes from the latest Rx Price Watch Report from the AARP, detailing cost trends for prescription drugs across all segments — generics, brands and specialty drugs.  Contrast, as well, the $53K for the average specialty drug with the median 2013 Social Security benefit payout of $15,526 and median Medicare

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American health citizens hungry for cost controls

Most Americans support price controls on drug and medical device manufacturers, hospitals, and payments to doctors, along with allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. U.S. health citizens, now consumers, have been experiencing sticker-shock when it comes to prices on medical bills upon hospital discharge, leaving the doctor’s office, filling a prescription at a pharmacy or receiving a specialty drug recommended for a serious medical condition. The HealthDay/Harris Poll of 5 November 2015 quantifies their observation that Americans Want Bold Steps to Keep Health Care Costs in Check. The topline of the Poll shows that: 73 percent support price controls on

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Retail Health Landscape Expanding Through Clinic Growth, Accenture Forecasts

The Old School retail clinic is going beyond checking your child’s ear infection and sore throat, giving immunizations and filling out back-to-school forms just-in-time over LaborDay  weekend. The new-new retail clinic is supporting patients’ chronic disease management, partnering with academic medical centers, and bolstering medication management. Accenture’s bullish forecast is titled “US Retail Health Clinics Expected to Surge by 2017,” making the case that these brick-and-mortar providers are shifting from a relatively limited retail scope to a broader and deeper clinical focus. The so-called surge in the number of retail clinics is projected to be nearly 50% growth between 2014 and 2017,

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Health Care Costs Are #1 Pocketbook Issue, and Drug Prices Top the Line Items

Consumers are most concerned about health care costs among their kitchen table issues, above their ability to afford the utility bill, housing, food, or gas and transportation costs. The October 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll finds 4 in 10 Americans finding it difficult to afford health care, including 16% of people earning $90,000 a year or more. Underneath that worrying healthcare cost umbrella are the price of prescription drugs, which the majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all agree need to be “limited” by government regulation. Ensuring that the public have affordable access to high-cost drugs for chronic conditions

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Social Networking Is The New Normal, Pew Finds

Two-thirds of all internet users, and 65% of all adults over 18 years of age, use social networking sites. Social Media Usage: 2005-2015, the latest report from the Pew Research Center, finds social networking is the new normal for people up to 65 years of age. One-third of people over 65 use social networking sites. Peoples’ use of social media impacts every aspect of daily living beyond sharing social updates, from home keeping and political discussions to work, parenting, and managing stress, the Pew research found. Key findings in the report are that: Seniors’ use of social networks rose from

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

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

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

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

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Wellness Is In Target’s Bullseye

Health is where we live, work, play, pray, learn, and increasingly, shop. The new Retail Health goes well beyond the pure-play pharmacy. Part of Target’s re-imagined market positioning is in this expanding sweet-spot as healthcare morphs from institutional providers like hospitals and doctors’ offices to the community. Don’t think pharmacy’s not important: it will remain a core business and revenue center in retail health. But that business is fast-changing, as the role of pharmacy benefits management companies change, more (expensive) specialty drug benefits come out of pipeline and into the market, and health insurance continues to shift financial risk to

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What Retail Telemedicine Means For Healthcare Providers

Direct-to-consumer retail health options are fast-growing in the U.S. health ecosystem. CVS Health brought three telemedicine vendors to its pharmacy brick-and-mortar stores. CVS also acquired Target’s pharmacies, expanding its retail health footprint. Rite Aid has added HealthSpot kiosks to its pharmacies, while Walgreens expanded its relationship with MDLive. And, Cox Cable acquired Trapollo to bring remote health monitoring into subscribers’ homes, along with the cable company’s venture with Cleveland Clinic, Vivre Health. Coupled with the growing supply side of telemedicine vendors, the latest National Business Group on Health survey found that most large employers plan to expand the telemedicine services they

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Fitbit Means Business When It Comes To Privacy

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

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Happy 1st Anniversary to CVS Going Tobacco-Free

CVS quit selling cigarettes and tobacco products in 2014, made $139 bn, and saved 65,000 lives. That’s the best kind of retail health there is. It’s been a year since CVS quit selling cigarettes, I’m reminded by a one-page ad in today’s Wall Street Journal on page B5. This is a big investment in an ad for a business strategy that’s had a huge return-on-investment. The ad reads: “One year ago, we took a deep breath and quit selling cigarettes in our pharmacies. Now we’re working to create a tobacco-free world. We just want to help everyone, everywhere, breathe easier,”

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

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

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There’s more to taste: a marketing lesson for health/care from a coffee ad

I switched from being a devoted coffee drinker to green tea several years ago, but once in a while I still love an excellent cup of coffee (especially when I’m in Italy – stay tuned for late October posts from the 2015 Milan Expo where I’ll be all-food-and-health, all-the-time). One of my long-time favorite coffee brands is Lavazza, based in Italy. The company hadn’t allocated much resource to advertising in the U.S. But they are launching a new multimedia campaign in America; here’s a look at their initial video promotion… This ad covers many features that are relevant to how

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Coverage and price before brand for health plan shoppers

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

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Wegmans tops pharmacy satisfaction – and it’s not even a pharmacy

Think of the word “pharmacy,” and what names come to your mind? CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, perhaps. But it’s Wegmans who’s #1 across all pharmacy brands and types, according to the 2015 J.D. Power Pharmacy Study. The big improvement in pharmacy satisfaction in 2015 has been among supermarket drug stores, up to an index score of 851 (of 1,000), the highest consumer score. The satisfaction score for chain pharmacies increased a small 2 points, whereas satisfaction for two other channels for pharmacies — mass merchandisers and mail order — both fell from 2014. It may come as no surprise to Health

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Health, Wearables and the IoT in the Windy City

Health is everywhere, where we live, work, play, pray and shop. So while I’m in Chicago staying off The Magnificent Mile in The Windy City, I took a several-thousand step walk along this shopping mecca and found health and wellness in the form of wearable technology, fitness, smart homes and the Internet of Things spanning the eastern end of Michigan Avenue to the western Gold Coast lakefront. Here’s a photo of the Garmin store, whose windows feature wearable tracking device promotions and devices. It was surprising to see Garmin investing in this expensive piece of real estate, with its logo

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Health consumers: in search of authentic consumer experiences

In the growing value-based era of health care, patients are looking for real consumer experiences: being treated well, with respect, and with a high level of service people find in other industries. PwC polled about 2,300 U.S. adults online in June 2014, resulting in the paper, Personal health management: The rise of the empowered consumer, part of PwC’s research into The New Health Economy. In that New Health Economy, more consumers want to take control of their health, PwC discovered through the survey. The three key parameters for this empowered health consumer are personal, proactive health management, service, and value,

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Beauty, Health and Power

CVS is expanding the beauty aisles in stores, along with adding fresh and refrigerated foods and healthy snacks to its offerings. This is part of the company’s re-positioning in its post-tobacco mission, having re-branded from CVS/pharmacy to CVS Health last year. (You can read more about this strategic transformation here in Health Populi and here in my Huffington Post column). When CVS made this announcement, a portfolio manager for Gabelli Funds noted that health and beauty products have very high profit margins. These margins will be useful as CVS replaces the tobacco sales lost last year when the company went tobacco-free.

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Fitness tech will boost holiday retail sales for consumer electronics

Sales of computers and tablets and LCD TVs won’t be hot on peoples’ holiday shopping lists in 2015. But smartwatches, health and fitness tech, and 4K Ultra HD TVs will be in peoples’ gift wish-lists and under homes’ holiday trees. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) published its 2015 U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts report, and it shows a shifting retail picture where traditional consumer electronics categories — notably computers and mainstream TVs — are declining in demand. But new-new categories are expected to buoy 2015 retail sales. The new categories of consumer electronics will generate about $10 bn (wholesale

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People-powered health/care – celebrating Patient Independence & Empowerment

In the growing shared economy, one centerpiece is people-powered health – co-creating, shared decision-making, and a greater appreciation for the impact of social on health. As we approach the mid-point of 2015, there are several signposts pointing to people-powered health/care. FasterCures launched the Science of Patient Input Project, with the objective of getting the patient’s voice into clinical discovery and decision-making. This video describes the intent of the program and its potential for people-powered health and user/patient-centered drug design, beyond the pure clinical efficacy of therapies. Another example of people-powered health comes from The Wall Street Journal dated 29 June 2015, which

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What the SCOTUS ACA ruling means for health consumers

Now that the Affordable Care Act is settled, in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, what does the 6-3 ruling mean for health/care consumers living in America? I wrote the response to that question on the site of Intuit’s American Tax & Financial Center here. The top-line is that people living in Michigan, where the Federal government is running the health insurance exchange for Michiganders, and people living in New York, where the state is running the exchange, are considered equal under the ACA’s health insurance premium subsidies: health plan shoppers, whether resident New Yorkers or Michiganders, can qualify for

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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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Congratulations, Fitbit – what $4.1 bn looks like

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

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Most Americans say drug prices are unreasonable and blame company profits

Three-quarters of U.S. adults say the cost of prescription drugs are unreasonable, and blame high medication prices set by profitable pharmaceutical companies according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll for June 2015. Profits made by drug companies are the #1 reason Americans cite among major factors that contribute to the price of prescription drugs (among 77% of people), followed by the cost of medical research (64%), the cost of marketing and advertising (54%), and the cost of lawsuits (49%). Regardless of the cost, 71% of people say that health insurance should “always” pay for high-cost drugs. At the same

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The 3 tectonic forces shaping patients – it’s BIO week

Patients in the U.S. are transforming into health care consumers, and in 2015 there are 3 underlying forces shaping that new consumer. This week kicks off the annual BIO conference in Philadelphia, and today Klick Health, the digital communications firm, convenes a group of thought leaders in healthcare to brainstorm markets, financing, and the state of pharmaceutical and life science innovation. An underlying theme throughout this meet-up is patient’s role in health/care. Patients are people, consumers, caregivers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, community members, taxpayers, all. We’re old, we’re young, we’re mobile and not-so-much, we’re amputees, we’re migraneurs, we’re cancer

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Telehealth goes retail

In the past couple of weeks, a grocery store launched a telemedicine pilot, a pharmacy chain expanded telehealth to patients in 25 states, and several new virtual healthcare entrants received $millions in investments. On a parallel track, the AMA postponed dealing with medical ethics issues regarding telemedicine, the Texas Medical Association got stopped in its tracks in a case versus Teladoc, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule for the Medicare Shared Savings Program that falls short of allowing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to take full advantage of telehealth services. These events beg the

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It’s still the prices, stupid – health care costs drive consumerism

“It’s the prices, stupid,” wrote Uwe Reinhardt, Gerald F. Anderson and colleagues in the May 2003 issue of Health Affairs. Exactly twelve years later, three reports out in the first week of June 2015 illustrate that salient observation that is central to the U.S. healthcare macroeconomy. Avalere reports that spending on prescription drugs increased over 13% in 2014, with half of the growth attributable to new product launches over the past two years. Spending on pharmaceuticals has grown to 13% of overall health spending, and the growth of that spending between 2013-14 was the fastest since 2001. In light of

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Musings with Mary Meeker on the Digital/Health Nexus

People in the U.S. spend over five-and-a-half hours a day with digital media in 2015, with time on mobile devices exceeding use of laptop and desktop computers. The growth of mobile means people are using and seeking more just-in-time services in daily living, and this has big implications for health/care, based on the annual mega-report on Internet Trends from Mary Meeker, KPCB’s internet analyst. “People” in health/care are patients, consumers and caregivers; people in health/care are also health plan administrators, employer benefits managers, doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, financial managers in hospitals, pharmacists, and the entire range of humans who

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All women are health workers

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 25 million, MinuteClinic and CVS Health!

Call it a Silver Million Anniversary, if you will: The MinuteClinic just saw its 25 millionth patient. This is a milestone in the evolution and growth of retail health in America, a trend-marker in this growing health industry segment that will become increasingly used by consumers, patients, parents, and caregivers. CVS bought the MinuteClinic in 2006, when the organization treated seven illnesses. Today, MinuteClinic offers 65 services and vaccinations in nearly 1,000 clinics located in 31 states and Washington, DC. In addition, MinuteClinic will grow the number of clinic locations in both existing and new markets. The company will open

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Consumers seek retail convenience in healthcare financing and payment

Health care consumers face a fragmented and complicated payment landscape after receiving services from hospitals and doctors, and paying for insurance coverage. People want to “view their bills, make a few clicks, pay…and be done,” according to Jamie Kresberg, product manager at Citi Retail Services, a unit of Citibank. He’s quoted in Money Matters: Billing and payment for a New Health Economy from PwC’s Health Research Institute. The healthcare service segment most consumers are satisfied with when it comes to billing and payment is pharmacies, who score well on convenience, affordability, reliability, and seamless transactions – with only transparency being

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The Consumer in the New Health Economy: Out-of-Pocket

The costs of healthcare in the U.S. have trended upward since 2000, with a slowdown in cost growth between 2009 to 2013 due to the impact of the Great Recession. That’s no surprise. What stands out in the new U.S. News & World Report Health Care Index is that people covered by private health insurance through employers are bearing more health care costs while publicly-covered insureds (in Medicare and Medicaid) are not. Blame it on the fast-growth of high-deductible health plans, the Index finds, resulting in what U.S. News coins as a “massive increase in consumer cost.” U.S. News &

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Capital investments in health IT moving healthcare closer to people

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

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Banks — a new entrant in the health/care landscape

TD Bank gifted free Fitbit activity trackers to new customers signing up for savings accounts in the 2015 New Year. John Hancock is discounting life insurance premiums for clients who track steps and take on preventive care strategies. And Banco Sabadell in Spain, along with Westpac in New Zealand and Standard Chartered in the United Kingdom are all piloting wearable technology for consumer financial management. Financial wellness is an integral part of peoples’ overall health, so financial services companies are putting their collective corporate feet into the health/care market. Banks and consumer investment companies are new entrants in health/care as

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No relief for consumers’ healthcare costs

U.S. consumers are spending $1 in every $5 dollars in the household on health care, and personal cost curves aren’t going to bend down anytime soon. Three surveys published in April confirm my financially unwell forecast for American health citizens. Kaiser Family Foundation’s April 2015 Health Tracking Poll finds most people say health care costs or going up or holding flat, shown in the first diagram from the KFF survey. U.S. adults told KFF the top health care priorities for the President and Congress should focus on health costs, such as: Making sure high-cost drugs for chronic conditions, such as HIV,

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

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

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John Hancock flips the life insurance policy with wellness and data

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

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