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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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Building the health ecosystem: new bedfellows coming together

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

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

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

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Self-service health – how consumers can help solve the primary care shortage

Self-service – people DIYing health care — can help solve the primary care shortage in America, based on the findings of 23 studies published this week. If health information technologies (health IT) were “fully implemented” in 30% of doctors’ offices, demand for physicians would fall by 4 to 9%, according to The Impact of Health Information Technology and e-Health On the Future Demand for Physician Services, published in the November 2013 issue of Health Affairs. Weiner, Yeh and Blumenthal did a meta-analysis of the literature on health IT and its potential to improve productivity and extend physician services and found

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Living paycheck to paycheck: what it means for health

While 50% of Americans feel they have a sound financial position, the other half is living paycheck to paycheck. 8% say they can’t even pay for essentials. The second annual Allstate “Life Tracks” Poll finds American adults split between have’s and have not’s, with even the “have’s” feeling less than financially literate. There is an equal split between people who feel they’re in an “excellent” or “good” financial position compared with those who feel they’re in financially “fair” or “poor” shape. Men feel more financially secure than women; 3 in 4 single parents feel less well-off compared to the average

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

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

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More primary care office hours, lower health care costs

It’s become evident that more health care does not often lead to better health: Shannon Brownlee’s seminal book, Overtreated, uncovered the negative relationship between more health care and worse outcomes. However, when it comes to accessing primary care, more may be a good thing. In Extended Office Hours and Health Care Expenditures: A National Study, published this week in the Annals of Family Medicine, researchers found that offering longer office hours, into evenings and weekends, leads to lower total health care expenditures for patients than practices without extended hours. Extended hours are also associated with lower prescription drug and office visit

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Employees will bear more health costs to 2017 – certainty in an uncertain future

Amidst uncertainties and wild cards about health care’s future in the U.S., there’s one certainty forecasters and marketers should incorporate into their scenarios: consumers will bear more costs and more responsibility for decision making. The 2012 Deloitte Survey of U.S. Employers finds them, mostly, planning to subsidize health benefits for workers over the next few years, while placing greater financial and clinical burdens on the insured and moving more quickly toward high-deductible health plans and consumer-directed plans. In addition, wellness, prevention and targeted population health programs will be adopted by most employers staying in the health care game, shown in

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Health consumers’ digital adoption gets more social, approaching nearly half of U.S. consumers

Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. adults now uses social media in health, according to Manhattan Research’s latest look into Cybercitizens, fielded in Q311. That 45% of U.S. health consumers use social media in health is a significantly higher percentage than recent studies fielded by PwC and Deloitte, which have found about 1 in 3 consumers using social media for health. Manhattan Research defines social media use in health as having created or consumed health-related user-generated content on blogs, social networks, health ratings websites, online health communities and message boards, or patient testimonials. Key findings are that, 14% of health-social media folks are

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The Proustian joy of a well-honed walking playlist: how music propels and sustains joyful exercise

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 6 January 2012 in Uncategorized

In rounding out what’s turned into Wellness Week on Health Populi, I’d like to share one last (for now) learning from 2011 – My Year of Health: what I’ll call the “Proustian joy” of a personalized iTunes playlist for daily walks. In waking very early — in the dark this winter season — for my daily walk, music plays a key role in propelling my energy and waking up my body. After a few months of this regime, it’s become routine, but not a bore: instead, by refreshing my playlist, and learning about how to best organize it for optimal

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Robert Reich connects the dots between the macroeconomy, angst, politics and health care costs

“I’m not a class warrior. I’m a class worrier,” Robert Reich told a standing-room only crowd of thousands of health IT geeks as he delivered the first keynote address of the annual meeting of HIMSS, the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society. This year’s crowd will have reached about 31,000 people interested in health information technology’s transformative role in health care. The 31K represents an 18% increase in attendance from last year’s crowd. The HIMSS economy is strong. Robert Reich warns, however, that the U.S. macroeconomy is far from healthy…and health care costs will be a long-term threat to the

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As health care demand is constrained, who will pay for medical innovations? Reflections on Moody’s analysis

“Employers and health insurers, through benefit design and medical management, are now playing a larger role in curbing use of healthcare services….spurring a more permanent cultural shift in consumer behavior,” Moody’s writes in a special comment dated February 16, 2011. “This will continue to constrain healthcare demand even as the economy recovers.” The chart illustrates one of the main reasons for the so-called “constrained healthcare demand:” increasing costs on health consumers. Look at the slope of the line on average out-of-pocket maximum costs for an employee receiving health insurance at work: the raw number grew from $2,742 in 2008 to

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Personal health records: will doctors connect?

What doctors are most likely to use patients’ personal electronic health records? Fewer than 1 in 2 are willing to. Those who most likely would include Hispanic physicians, doctors who practice in rural areas, those employed in hospitals, and surgeons. As part of the HITECH Act included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) 0f 2009, U.S. physicians have the opportunity to receive a portion of the $20.8 billion carved out as incentive payments to those who adopt and “meaningfully use” electronic health records (EHRs). Many EHRs include portals which allow patients to access a slice of their personal health information.

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Success factor for mobile health: mash up the development team

With mobile health (“mhealth,” for short) at the top of the Gartner Hype Cycle, and the annual HIMSS meeting gearing up for next week’s countless announcements about mHealth solutions for health providers and patients, how can someone get a true read on the intersection of mobile and health? What’s practical, what’s real, and where are ‘we’ in mobile health in February 2011? If you can’t be in the room with me on the morning of Thursday 17 February 2011 in the small group meeting at unNiched in New York City, let me share with you one lesson learned just last week at the

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Love, sex and what I tweeted

EURO RSCG has polled 1,000 online Americans’ views on romance through the lens of digital media, publishing results in a paper, Love (and Sex) in the Age of Social Media. This ‘digital love’ survey was conducted in January 2011.  [It’s interesting to note that EURO RSCG won the business for the Durex condom line in November 2010.] In its introduction, EURO RSCG suggests that, “the Internet is the most powerful erogenous zone that the world has ever known.” There are five aspects to digital love, based on these findings: 1. Observing love online. As more people do more daily activities online like banking,

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Meeker & Murphy on Mobile – through the lens of health

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

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1 in 10 jobs in the U.S. is in health care – an all-time high that will go even higher

In February 2011, 1 in 10 jobs in the U.S. is in health care employment; nearly 14 million people in the U.S. work in health care employment, with health care representing 10.7% of all jobs in America. The growth rate of health care jobs rose 1.2 percentage points since the recession kicked in late 2007. Since the start of the recession, health employment grew 6.3%; the number of non-health jobs fell by 6.8%. The chart starkly illustrates this story. Altarum Institute has crunched the health job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and published their analysis in Health Sector Economic Indicators, published

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Employees look to their employers for health information – new findings from NBGH

Employers spend about $10,000 each year per active employee for health care. In return, they’re looking for value for their money in the form of cost-effective, efficient health care that yields optimal outcomes for insured workers and their families. The ROI isn’t as great as employers as investors in worker health would like to see. As a result, companies are looking to comparative effectiveness research as a tool to help make better health spending decisions — for the companies themselves and for employees. The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) surveyed 1,538 employees at large employers to ascertain workers’ views on health

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Women seek healthier habits in the post-recession economy

Women’s #1 priority is health and wellness. Wellness means taking care of herself, based on a survey of women by Saatchi Wellness.  Women are coming out of the recession with the modus operandi of a “me-covery,” according to Saatchi Wellness’s read on women’s attitudes about the economy’s impact on their wellbeing and health priorities among 800 women polled online in August 2010. The 5 elements of the “me-covery” for women are: To eat right. This doesn’t mean “diet;” it’s striking a balance and buying healthier, and more organic, food. People most negatively impacted by the economy are buying less fast food. To

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It’s still the economy for U.S. voters in November, with health reform a distant second

There’s more confusion among U.S. voters than ever about what health reform, the Accountable Care Act (ACA), means. The September 2010 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll reveals an electorate that’s not only confused, but quite split in their support — with those who oppose the law even stronger against it than the pro’s support it. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey found that the percentage of ACA proponents actually increased by 4 percentage points between August and September, from 45% to 49%. 41% of registered voters are “unfavorable,” and 10% still have no opinion about the law.  When it comes to

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Health care post-recession, and the need for a creative jolt

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 16 July 2010 in Uncategorized

“Insecurity goes upscale,” finds Robert J. Samuelson in this week’s Newsweek magazine dated July 19, 2010, and titled Creativity in America. The subtext is, “how the recession has changed us.” Samuelson says that this recession has been quite egalitarian in how it’s impacted different economic segments of Americans. In particular, all Americans have gotten more frugal, buying more store brands, cutting vacations short or out altogether (with the ‘staycation’ becoming increasingly common), based on data from a Pew Research Center survey assessing The Great Recession at 30 Months. Pay cuts or stalls, job losses, declining portfolios of home and market wealth, and college grad

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Health and entertainment: kids like food with Dora, Scooby and Shrek

What do Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo and Shrek have in common? They’re persuading kids to eat less nutritious food, according to a study in the July 2010 Pediatrics journal (Volume 126. Number 1). A team from The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity studied children’s taste for food that’s sold in cartoon-character themed packages, versus products in plain packaging. The verdict? Kids think the cartoon-themed food tastes better.  The study was done among 40 so-called “ethnically diverse” children 4-6 years old in New Haven, CT, preschools. Health Populi’s Hot Points: Since Vance Packard wrote the seminal book on advertising, The Hidden

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The health supply chain will move closer to the patient

People responsible for managing the health care industry supply chain have always been concerned about regulations and compliance requirements that can negatively impact their ability to manage the materials, technologies, goods and services they need to fulfill their organizations’ medical missions and businesses. Now “health reform” joins regulation as a pain point in the supply chain. UPS, the logistics and transport company, has surveyed executives from pharma, biotech, medical and surgical device companies, to ascertain their current perspectives on the health care supply chain. The results of this study are in the report, UPS 2010 Pain in the (Supply) Chain

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Parents demand ePediatrics services

1 in 2 parents is keen on going online with their kids’ pediatricians to refill prescriptions, get clinical advice, obtain lab results, and obtain immunization records. The National Poll on Children’s Health, conducted for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, found that fewer than 10% of parents can currently go online for administrative tasks like scheduling an appointment or completing a form before going for a well-kid visit. But there’s pent-up demand for so-called ePediatrics, the poll discovered. The key obstacles to doctors engaging in ePediatrics, the survey researchers say, are doctors’ concerns about medical liability

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Mobile Health a hot topic on Capitol Hill

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 5 May 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized

Capitol Hill is keen to know more about telehealth and health care information technology. Today, I am participating in a roundtable discussion on mobile health as part of an event hosted by Qualcomm and the American Telemedicine Association. Why “mHealth” anyway? It’s because we’re a mobile society. As B.J. Fogg, the director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, wrote, “We don’t merely adopt cell phones; we marry them.” In our 24×7 lives, we’re project managing our entertainment, financial management, travel services, and shopping via mobile devices. Engaged health consumers ask, “why can’t I ‘DIY’ my health the way I manage other

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Save the Children…and the Mothers

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 4 May 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized

It’s good to be a kid in Norway, Australia, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark. The worst country to be a kid on the planet is Afghanistan, which ranks lowest based on the Mothers’ Index Ratings in Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers 2010 report, the 11th annual version of this project. You might notice the United States hasn’t yet been mentioned. That’s because it’s not in the top 5 best places to be a woman or a kid; but the U.S. is also far, far from the worst nation in terms of childhood and maternal health metrics. The U.S. ranks

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Health care confidence crisis worsens among Americans

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 3 May 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized

Americans’ faith in their ability to obtain and pay for health care has eroded in 2010. Notwithstanding the fact that a health reform bill has passed and the nation’s macroeconomic measures appear to be picking up, people in the U.S. are losing confidence in their ability to access and pay for health care. The chart illustrates the downward trend in Americans’ perceived ability to access and pay for health care both in the past 3 months and in the next 3 months. Thomson Reuters bases the Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index on looks back 3 months and ahead for 3 months.

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The state of the States and health reform

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 30 April 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized

The impact of health reform could be devastating to the budgets of states by 2014 — the year that Governors must kick in substantial additional expenses that will cover the uninsured who are absorbed into existing health care programs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 builds on existing state health programs (read: Medicaid and CHIP for children) to provide coverage for uninsured Americans in 2014. Moody’s, the credit rating agency, has issued a report, Healthcare Reform Expected to Create Longer Term Financial Pressure for States, which finds that the states with largest gains in Medicaid enrollment will have the most

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Administrative simplification as health reform

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 29 April 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized

Physicians spend 12% of their net revenue to cover administrative waste in the course of practicing medicine over a year. Simplifying payment and billing through a universal form would save doctors in the U.S. $7 billion (yes, “billion” with a “b”). This sad story of waste is detailed in a Web First article on the Health Affairs website titled, Saving Billions of Dollars – And Physicians’ Time — By Streamlining Billing Practices. The research comes from a team from Massachusetts General Hospital, and includes the institution’s CFO — to whom $7 billion is surely ‘real’ money. The authors point out that

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The cost of cancer care – too costly to consume?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 28 April 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized

In the current paradigm of Too Big To Fail, are cancer drugs and care Too Costly To Consume? A plethora of evidence says that, for a growing number of health citizens, the answer is “yes.” First, think about the scope of the cancer challenge in the U.S. The March 17 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association focused on cancer: prevalence, treatment, and cost. Elkin and Bach’s article talks about addressing cancer’s next frontier – not treatment innovation, but costs. In their article on caring for patients with cancer, Pasche et. al. write, “With the current lifetime probability of being diagnosed

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Smartphones are the new wellness channel for health

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 25 April 2010 in Uncategorized

As citizens morph into becoming health consumers, they’re adopting DIY tools on the same journey they’ve made into DIY entertainment, DIY financial management, DIY travel, and DIY photo development. The train’s left the station on DIY health, and mobile phones are one of the main tools in peoples’ armamentaria. Simple text messaging in health has been used for years in developing nations, who have leapfrogged ahead of the U.S. and many other wealthier nations that have a legacy of big-iron medical devices and closed health information systems. SMS is deployed in nations to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, to remind mothers

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Bringing sexy back to primary care

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 21 April 2010 in Uncategorized

Among the limiting factors that will prevent full realization of the benefits of health reform, one is most pressing: the deficit of primary care providers (PCPs). A comment in the April 21st 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association lays out the facts about the primary care shortage with several data points: 1. There are 900 million visits to physicians each year in the U.S. 50% of these go to 200,000 physicians who call themselves primary care clinicians. 2. Most of these visits deal with the super-sized conditions of diabetes, hypertension and obesity, along with infections and general exams. 3.

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Employers seek to maintain benefits while reducing costs, in MetLife survey

  When it comes to health plans sponsored by U.S. employers, there are two realities facing benefits managers: on one side of the coin, most U.S. employers held the line on employee benefits in the recession. The other reality: controlling costs is the most important objective for employee benefits, according to most U.S. employers polled in MetLife’s 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends. Under the cost-control priority, though, is a novel finding in the MetLife study. That is that employers see a link between benefits and employee productivity and loyalty. Thus, when productivity is viewed as a benefits objective, employers can connect the dots

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City and transport planning are health issues

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 17 April 2010 in Uncategorized

Urban and town design, coupled with transportation planning, have everything to do with health. As suburban sprawl became the fashion after World War II as the U.S. economy expanded the middle class, green spaces and sidewalks disappeared. As Joni Mitchell sang, we paved paradise and put up a parking lot. That proverbial parking lot serves the many autos that people drive as they traverse the highways funded by the U.S. Department of Transporatation and approved by town zoning managers. Health is tied to urban planning and transport because the dots directly connect from there to obesity, mental health, respiratory health, accessibility and

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Obesity, work-related stress and chronic conditions have gone global

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 15 April 2010 in Uncategorized

Employers globally are looking to manage health care costs. Health cost containment is not the sole province of American companies. Health and well-being are now seen by companies in North America and Asia, polled by Towers Watson in the study, Workforce Health Strategies: A Multinational Perspective. The survey was completed in late 2009. The most important reasons why global companies are engaging in employee health strategies are to retain key talent, to contain/reduce the organization’s health care costs, to ensure business continuity, to increase productivity, and to provide competitive compensation packages. 2/3 of employers said their objective was also to

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A Profile of Health Citizens in Six Countries: the Underfunded, Emerging Self-Care Consumer

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 12 April 2010 in Uncategorized

In the global village of health care, where do Americans stand on issues compared with fellow health citizens in Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom? Deloitte Center for Health Solutions asked this very question and found some intriguing differences between people from six of the wealthiest countries on the planet. The most striking difference between the U.S. health system and the other 5 analyzed by Deloitte is that the U.S. has an employer-sponsored financing system coupled with public sector sponsorship for Medicare and Medicaid, along with health plans for Veterans and armed forces and their families. But it’s

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Health economics as a sustainability issue

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 1 April 2010 in Health Economics, Uncategorized

The health economy has joined the growing ranks of sustainability issues for the U.S.  Federal debt and health policy are deeply entwined. That debt needs to be financed, the cost of which sucks money away from other uses…like health care. With the ominous title, The Specter of Financial Armageddon, the reader might imagine the journal article she’s reading is published in Forbes, Fortune, or the Financial Times. But this Armageddon is described in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it’s much more gripping than Avatar or the Clash of the Titans. The Titans, in this script, are the Federal deficit versus health

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Are Americans all Europeans now?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 23 March 2010 in Uncategorized

Ted Kennedy spoke from the grave on Monday 22nd March, saying through the earthly voice of Nancy Pelosi that the passage of health reform was “the great unfinished business of our society.” Universal health coverage has been part of developed Europe for decades, and those countries spend a lot less overall and per capita on health care with arguably at least as good outcomes as the U.S. I’ve spent the past week in Europe, and while I was away, 219 Democrats voted in favor of health reform for America. I’ve had the opportunity to read various Euro-papers and listen to

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Learning from Detroit: costs above coverage and the elastic demand for health

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 16 March 2010 in Uncategorized

Cost and personal income are the key determinants of whether a Michigander seeks medical care. As the chart shows, cost is the #1 reason uninsured people in Michigan didn’t seek medical care for 55% of the uninsured. But for nearly 1 in 3 insured Michiganders, cost is also the key determinant in whether people go for medical care. These findings price elastic demand for health services were uncovered in the Cover Michigan survey, conducted by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT), a partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS MI). The

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Flipping cancer the bird: can pop culture cure cancer?

70,000 young Americans between 15 and 39 years of age are diagnosed with cancer every year. This population falls in a gap between pediatric and adult cancer. Newly-diagnosed young adults often find themselves in a no-patients’-land, confronting a lack of targeted clinical trials and knowledgeable clinicians in local health markets.The National Cancer Institute says that survival rates for this group of cancer patients haven’t improved in over 30 years.That’s definitely cause to flip cancer the bird, and that’s exactly what the young actor, Zac Efron, has done.Efron is photographed with a young cancer patient, Emily Hobson, to focus on Stupid

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Rent, Buy or Wait? A post-mortem of HIMSS ’10

It’s been a year since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the HITECH Act got the president’s signature. Since then, there have been countless meetings of standards-setters, CIO experts and medical informatics pros, all opining on the meaning of “meaningful use,” the criteria for certifying electronic health records and the vision for a Nationwide Health Information Network. As they asked in “Seasons of Love” from Rent, “525,600 minutes…how do you measure a year?” The chorus’s response: “In cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.” And 525,000 journeys to plan. That’s about the number of physicians

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Designing for meaningful use

In the crush of crowds on the vendor floor at the HIMSS10 exhibition this week in Atlanta, booths are strategically designed with Pantone-matched colors and icons and clever taglines. Sales teams are festooned in corporate logo-emblazoned polo shirts (orange is popular this year). Colorful banners exclaim this year’s HIT mantras: lots of “HIE spoken here!” and “We are connectivity.” With all the thought and dollars allocated to health information technology sales and marketing, I wonder how much the line item known as “design” gets? As I spend a lot of time with pharmaceutical companies in the past two decades, I’m

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The self-evident market for mobile health

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 2 March 2010 in Mobile health, Uncategorized

Two-thirds of physicians own smartphones, Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, told the standing-room-only crowd at HIMSS as he kicked off the first keynote session of the 2010 annual meeting. With the emergence of the 4G network in 2010, we’ve got the infrastructure for delivering remote care with the kind of image quality even the most eagle-eyed radiologist will require, according to this telecomms CEO.Other parts of the world that spend a much lower percentage of GDP on health care have leapfrogged the U.S. in mobile health. Globally, there are more mobile phones adopted than PCs, TVs, and cars combined. Mobile

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Of Hummers, HIMSS and Health Care: context for a week of HIT in Atlanta

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 1 March 2010 in Uncategorized

Rest-in-peace, Hummer. Last week, GM announced that after 18 years, the gas-guzzling icon of car excess would be tossed to the proverbial scrap heap. The Tale of the Hummer provides a useful parable for American health care, especially for context this week as the annual HIMSS conference kicks off. (Please skip to the end-note to learn more about HIMSS, for those Health Populi readers unfamiliar with the acronym or organization). Why did GM send the Hummer to its resting place? There are several factors that eroded the demand for the Hummer: among them, First, the price of gas, generally trending

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The #1 focus for employees: physical health, fiscal health

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 26 February 2010 in Employers, Health Economics, Prevention and wellness, Uncategorized

While Congress and the President arm-wrestled through the Health Summit, the private sector doesn’t sit still waiting in a frozen state for the result of inside-Beltway-health-baseball. Employees/consumers and employers have aligning in mutual self-interest when it comes to health care benefits, costs, and disease management, according to a survey sponsored jointly by Deloitte and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists, 2010 Top Five Total Rewards Priorities Survey. This latest recession has focused the minds of companies and their workers and driven the collective priority of managing health costs while maintaining job and retirement security. In this 16th annual

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Help wanted: primary care docs, nurses and health information professionals

In the coming months and years, I anticipate that Monster.com and other online job services will grow their revenues from the health industry. Three important studies this month confirm that, while health care eats up nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy, there are shortages of professionals to fill two important jobs that are growing: primary care physicians (PCPs), nurses, and health information technology (HIT) workers. Let’s talk about the doctors, first. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports this week that doctors cut back their working hours since 1998 to 2008. At the same time, the second chart

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Employers say health engagement is low, but tactics seem more actuarial than action-oriented

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 23 February 2010 in Employers, Health Consumers, Health engagement, Uncategorized

While the stock market and companies’ profitability improves, much of that has been done on the backs of employees: through reductions in force and job cuts, and re-working of benefits. Health benefits are a prime target for cost management as companies try to survive through the long recovery. Combined with insurance companies’ cost increases (most notably and recently Anthem’s announcement of up-to-39% increases in premium costs), employers who choose to continue to provide health insurance to employers are in a bind. According to the 15th annual survey from National Business Group on Health/Towers Watson, employers faced cost increases of 7%

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Looking for Mr. Expert – global citizens trust specialists

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 22 February 2010 in Uncategorized

This year, it’s academics, experts, and industry analysts we trust — as for a “person like yourself?” Not as much — but in health, it is different.The Edelman Trust Barometer for 2010 finds that specialists are the most credible sources for information about companies. Edelman cites a ‘trust rebound’ since last year, except for general news media, including radio news, TV news, and print news which are seen as less trustworthy year-on-year.Conversations with friends and peers also lost ground as a credible source of information on companies. What’s most striking this year is that consumers’ views on corporate reputation aren’t

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Health reform illiteracy – when people oppose reform in 2010, they don't really know what they're opposing

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 18 February 2010 in Uncategorized

Highly educated Americans support health reform; those with no college education don’t. 10% of Republicans support President Obama’s proposals for health changes; 77% of Democrats do. The schisms between groupings of Americans who support health reform in February 2010 versus those who don’t are wide, and many, depending how you slice the data. The Harris Poll conduced in late January 2010 starkly illustrates these gaps between supporters and detractors of health reform coming from the President’s pen. Most tellingly, The Poll finds that it doesn’t much matter what the details are: “support for, or opposition to, health care reform has

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Heart-broken: President Clinton has access to great heart care, but the average heart patients can't afford what they need

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 12 February 2010 in Uncategorized

With President Clinton’s stent operation of February 11, Americans are reminded of the epidemic of heart disease which will cost the nation $503 billion in 2010. Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 Americans. But 25% of heart and stroke patients say they can’t afford the treatment they need, whether they lack insurance coverage or don’t have the money to pay for services, medicines, and procedures. The situation is tougher for stroke patients than CVD patients: 32% of stroke patients don’t have sufficient coverage to deal with their conditions. 16% of heart/stroke patients under 65 don’t have any health

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Your doctor tends to use electronic health records if you're older or richer: a new riff on meaningful use

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 11 February 2010 in Uncategorized

There’s a new survey on EHRs out that most industry news outlets have headlined, “More doctors have gone digital.” This, directly from the survey’s title, Doctors Gone Digital, conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media for Practice Fusion, the EHR developer.Forty-eight percent, or nearly 1 in 2 patients in the U.S., has noticed that their doctors have their records stored digitally on a computer. This is, of course, good news indeed. But under the proverbial hood of the survey data, you find a subtext: that if you’re older or more affluent, your physician is more likely to have access

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Crossing the chasm toward participatory health – what the Keas-Pfizer partnership means

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 9 February 2010 in Uncategorized

Adam Bosworth has been working very hard since he left Google Health to build an application that engages, inspires, and assists health citizens to manage their health. That effort is called Keas, and this week the project welcomes a partner that should further help people along their health journeys. For some people fortunate enough to be well, they may want to engage with daily lifestyle choices that increase their chances of staying well. For those people diagnosed with a chronic condition they want to manage, life is more complex beyond managing daily white carbohydrate intake, fat calories, and pedometer-measured steps.

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What's 19 cents worth to you in 2019? The rise and rise of health care costs

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 5 February 2010 in Uncategorized

Here’s a health economics riddle: what do one dime, one nickel, and four pennies get you in the year 2019? Health care costs’ value carved out of every single dollar. That’s the forecast coming out of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in a report in Health Affairs, as of this year the payor of more than 50% of the health care bills in the U.S. Ironically, the government’s taken over health care, with or without Congressional Democrats or President Obama’s direct hand in the scenario. That’s $4.5 trillion, the entire economic output of the United States of

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EHRs in the era of social networks – implications for participatory health

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 3 February 2010 in Uncategorized

What are the implications for electronic health records in an era of consumers’ adoption of mobile phones and online social networks?That’s the question posed and pondered by Aviv Shachak and Alejandro Jadad of the University of Toronto, published in this weeks Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).The opportunity is to build a people-centered health system, they say, the kind envisioned in the IOM’s report, Crossing the Quality Chasm. Drs. Shachak and Jadad propose 7 building blocks to use when adopting EHRs that will help the U.S. get to the Holy Grail of people-centered health:1. Use tools to promote health,

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Hospital HIT spending will grow for POC systems, but smaller hospitals unprepared for scaling up

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 1 February 2010 in Uncategorized

With $20 billion worth of stimulus funding to help providers adopt electronic medical records, hospitals and doctors seem poised — finally! — to enter the digital information age that other vertical markets have already joined.The topline finding from HIMSS Analytics’ Healthcare Enterprise Survey found that 55% of small and mid-sized hospitals are poised to increase investments in point-of-care systems.However, the survey also finds this hospital segment is concerned about its ability to scale up data centers to manage the explosion of data they’re about to foster. Some of the challenges hospitals foresee include security, standards, and how to manage increasing

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It's the jobs, stupid: that is, jobs that come with health insurance

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 27 January 2010 in Uncategorized

In 2010, health isn’t a top policy priority for Americans. Instead, the top 3 concerns are the economy, jobs and terrorism. At least 8 in 10 Americans cite these 3 areas at the top of their lists. Medicare, health care, and health insurance fall below Social Security and education, according to The Pew Research Center For The People & The Press‘s latest survey into Americans policy priorities. It is Medicare, in fact, that ranks above health care and health insurance for more Americans. Roughly 1 in 2 Americans cite health insurance or health care as a top priority for 2010.

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Health and economic sustainability: a Bill Gates alert

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 26 January 2010 in Uncategorized

If you have a blank check and could write it for whatever you wanted, what would it be? For Bill and Melinda Gates, life affords a rich opportunity to write a lot of blank checks. But for them, it’s not about the next Prada bag, Maserati or waterfront home: it’s about spending the next dollar on health, which they believe is also good for economic sustainability. Mr. Gates is concerned that after the signing of the Copenhagen accords, the global environmental pact, that developed countries’ funding of health projects will fall in favor of spending on new energy and other

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What do Americans want from health reform? Not much change, according to KFF's latest tracking poll

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 25 January 2010 in Uncategorized

Ensuring that all Americans have health insurance has fallen below other more pressing health reform issues such as tax credits for small business, health insurance exchanges, and front-burner health insurance regulations like guaranteed issue and covering dependents to age 25. Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) latest Health Tracking Poll demonstrates Americans’ continued divide on the major health reform issues. About the same proportion, 56% and 55%, support covering at least 31 million uninsured and no federal money going toward abortion, respectively. A majority of Americans does not support the individual mandate and penalty for individuals not buying health insurance continues. Only

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The ePharma population tripled in 5 years, as more consumers get more engaged in managing personal heatlh

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 21 January 2010 in Uncategorized

The population of “ePharma” consumers is growing faster than growth of Internet users overall, according to Manhattan Research‘s ePharma Consumer report. In fact, the number of American adults seeking information on prescription drugs online has tripled in the last five years, now numbering 100 million health consumers. This 9th version of the ePharma Consumer study looks at condition and health sites, video, ratings, search engines, product sites, wikis, and other online sources where consumers can access information on prescription drugs and conditions. Meredith Abreu-Ressi, Vice President of Research at the firm, presented some top-line findings to a webinar audience today.

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Employers' satisfaction with health plans erodes; better data and HIT will help

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 20 January 2010 in Uncategorized

Employers aren’t happy with their health insurers. Satisfaction with health plans has eroded in the past year, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). While 64% (about 2 in 3) of large employers were satisfied with their health plans in 2008, only 59% were in 2009. PwC says, “What employers want from health insurers in 2010: Better information, more value,” which is the name of the report covering the survey. As large employers morph to small ones, health benefits become much less important, the survey found. The smaller the company, the lower the satisfaction with health plans.The two key components

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The eighth deadly sin is hunger, especially among seniors

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 19 January 2010 in Uncategorized

Americans living in the south are the hungriest citizens in the nation, according to a study from the Meals on Wheels Association (MOWA). Senior Hunger in the United States: Differences Across States and Rural Areas discovered that underneath the overall statistic that hunger is a growing industry in the U.S., it’s even worse among older Americans. 700,000 more seniors faced the risks of hunger in 2007 than in 2001, MOWA found. There is great geographic variability for senior hunger: the risk of hunger among seniors ranges from a low of 1.5% in North Dakota to 12.3% in Mississippi. Health Populi’s

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What retail health clinics can teach primary care physicians

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 18 January 2010 in Uncategorized

The chart shows that MinuteClinic retail health clinics have a better track record in following evidence-based guidelines than the average primary care practice in the U.S. (This chart replaces one I posted yesterday that did not start the origin point at ‘0.’ Thanks to reader Jason Rothstein at J-blawg for pointing this out – my apologies if I mislead anyone). The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) pulled out this statistic in its Brief Analysis on Retail Clinics: Convenient and Affordable Care. The NCPA argues here that the solution to America’s lack of convenient, low-cost care is urgent care clinics.

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Employees highly prize health benefits, but expect to bear more costs in 2010

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 15 January 2010 in Uncategorized

Most Americans (71%) are very concerned about their long-term financial future, according to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index data from the fourth quarter of 2009. The #1 factor that has negatively impacted American workers’ overall financial well-being in the past decade was the surge in the price of gas in the summer of 2008 when the barrel of oil rose to $147. The drop in the real estate market and Dow Jones Index also eroded Americans’ financial health, they told Principal Financial. The financial downturn in the U.S. has bolstered Americans’ personal valuation of health benefits, as the chart illustrates.

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California Blue Shield Enters the Consumer Ratings World

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 14 January 2010 in Uncategorized

Blue Shield of California is going where few health plans have: into the world of consumer ratings, a world beyond the plan’s control. The insurance company has worked with Bazaarvoice to develop a member ratings and review site. This is being rolled out to some members in a first phase, to be expanded over time. A press release on the plan’s website says, “Our members want to be heard and want to be able to interact with us and with each other in exciting new ways…we’re proud to be the first health plan in the country to be fully transparent.”

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While 4 in 10 U.S. docs are using an EMR/EHR, most aren't fully functioning

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 13 January 2010 in Uncategorized

4 in 10 American doctors use an electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR), according to the Centers for Disease Control. However, most of these systems are not fully functioning. These data come from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) which is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the CDC. The NAMCS measures activity in physician offices including patient visits and other aspects, including use of EMRs and EHRs. What does it mean for an EMR/EHR to be fully “functioning?” First, a well-used system covers the basics including patient demographics, problem lists, clincal

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Americans' well-being is eroding due to the economy and stress, especially among women

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 12 January 2010 in Uncategorized

With the sobering headlines that “35 is the new 40” for Americans and a national erosion in optimism, Philips has published its 2010 Index on America’s Health and Well-being. The skin-deep, top-line finding is that 74% of Americans age 18-65 say their health is good or very good; however, there’s a disconnect and discontent that runs below this otherwise happy data point.I spent some time talking with Katy Hartley, Director of the Philips Center for Health and Well-being, about the study. She identified four key findings:1. People feel older, younger. That’s the “35 is the new 40” headline. When Americans

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What's the patient's cost-effectiveness analysis for digital health?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 11 January 2010 in Uncategorized

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas showcased countless consumer-facing health applications, from mobile phone apps to home health monitoring. There were both a Digital Health Summit and a Silvers Summit held at the Show, featuring a mix of hardware, software and — importantly — service. But not all vendors at the show were techno-optimists when it came to actually selling direct-to-consumer. “We can’t invest further in all things required because we don’t see a market,” said the director of technology programs for Sharp Laboratories of America, Deepak Ayyagari, according to MSNBC. What’s the primary barrier to

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The health economy is good for jobs

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 8 January 2010 in Uncategorized

The health industry added 631,000 new jobs since the recession began, according to data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics released for January 2010. Critique the proportion of the GDP that the U.S. spends on health care if you must, but remember that the bioeconomy is a jobs engine for the nation and one of the few bright spots of innovation in the American economy.There’s another dynamic of jobs and health care that’s more good news: health reform would have a positive impact on job growth in the U.S. David Cutler (whom I talked about yesterday in Health Populi) and

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A not-so-dismal scientist: David Cutler talks with James Surowiecki of the New Yorker on health reform

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 7 January 2010 in Uncategorized

James Surowiecki calls David Cutler “the most important health care economist in the U.S. today,” and I think he’s right. Among his many accomplishments, Cutler has profoundly helped to shape President Obama’s mindset on health care. Surowiecki, a columnist for New Yorker‘s The Financial Page, interviewed David Cutler on his views on health reform, posted December 31, 2009, for a New Yorker video. “It’s an amazingly good step forward for the country,” Cutler told Surowiecki. “It’s something we’ve tried to do for 80 years so the timing is right.” Cutler bases his “good step” on 3 key principles: 1. What

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The demand for COBRA is elastic: subsidies drove enrollment in 2008-9

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 6 January 2010 in Uncategorized

Unemployment can quickly lead to uninsurance if a newly-laid-off worker doesn’t buy into COBRA. That’s the reality since the monthly cost of COBRA consumes, on average, about 84% of the average monthly unemployment payment for American workers. This calculation was made by Families USA in 2009, appropriately titled, Squeezed. When I wrote about COBRA here exactly one year ago, I posited that without significant subsidies, the newly-unemployed would quickly morph into the newly-uninsured. I can happily report that subsidies began to flow to laid off workers last spring and this led to a pick-up in COBRA enrollment throughout 2009. The

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Where's the value in U.S. health care? A picture speaks

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 5 January 2010 in Uncategorized

National Geographic, well-known for pictures that move the soul and educate the mind, now speaks to us about health economics.The graphic pictured here comes from the National Geographic blog. The line chart was constructed from statistics gathered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on health spending, utilization, and life expectancy published in OECD Health Data 2009.The lines illustrate health spending versus life expectancy; the line thickness represents number of visits to doctors.The U.S. data are featured on the upper red line. The conclusion presented by the graph is that while the U.S. spends far more per capita

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Health reform could further erode retiree health benefits

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 4 January 2010 in Uncategorized

In the long run, it’s said, nothing is sure but death and taxes. In addition to those, there’s an increasingly sure thing: no retiree health benefits from employers. Once considered a “throw-away benefit” in the 1940s and 1950s when there were few retirees, retiree health benefits are an endangered species. In Implications of Health Reform for Retiree Health Benefits, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) details the recent history and impacts of legislation on retiree benefits. Starting with FAS 106, the accounting rule change that passed in 1990, the financial treatment of employer-sponsored benefits negatively impacted access to health benefits

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What to expect when you're expecting…health reform

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 24 December 2009 in Uncategorized

As I write this blog post, my final of 2009, the Senate has just passed the $871 billion health bill, 60-39. There is still reconciliation to be done, so it ain’t over ’til it’s over.Even as a health reform bill passes, remember Confucius – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Changing health care clinically, adminsitratively, and politically in the U.S. is a more-than-thousand-mile trek: a marathon to be sure, and not a sprint.So what can we expect while we’re expecting Federally-legislated health reform?Lots of action on the ground, in States and in the private sector.

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Employers face a confounding environment for managing retiree health costs

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 23 December 2009 in Uncategorized

The long end-tail of the recession and the rising costs of health care — both medical trend/clinical and administrative — are creating uncertainty for employers who cover retiree health benefits. This picture is even more cloudy for pre-retirement benefit plan design.The bottom line: how do employers balance burdensome health costs with legacy promises?This question is addressed in Retiree Medical Challenges and Opportunities, December 2009, the fifth annual Towers Perrin–ISCEBS survey.Among this survey’s respondent employers, 80% have laid off workers in this recession, 32% have enacted voluntary staff reductions, and 26% have cut benefits. Nonetheless, 70% are continuing to provide retiree

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The economy, jobs and health care are Americans' top issues as 2009 ends

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 22 December 2009 in Uncategorized

The 3 top-of-mind concerns for Americans at year-end are the economy, jobs, and health care. The top 3 hasn’t substantially changed since April, when the AP-GfK Poll collected data showing that other issues on Americans’ collective mind included terrorism, the deficit, taxes, energy, and relations with other countries. We’re ending up the year pretty happy overall — 78% of Americans say they’re “very” or “somewhat” happy as of mid-December. At the same time, 1 in 2 Americans think the U.S. is headed in the “wrong direction,” while 46% say we’re headed right. Worries about gas prices have somewhat abated, with

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Consumers likely to use health via Internet and phone

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 18 December 2009 in Uncategorized

The over-arching challenge facing health care in the U.S. for 2010 is managing costs, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers‘ forecast, titled appropriately, Squeezing the Juice Out of Healthcare. PwC says that health stakeholder organizations will have to redefine their roles given the ‘squeeze’ on incoming revenues, forcing focused management of operational costs. “Flat is the new growth for many industries outside of healthcare,” PwC asserts. Businesses in health will have to get used to that economic reality in 2010. 2009 saw big increases in costs which could result in pricing pressures in 2010.Value-based purchasing is taking hold in both the public and

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Size matters: physician adoption of care management tools

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 17 December 2009 in Uncategorized

The size of a primary care physician practice is a major factor in whether those physicians use care management tools for managing chronic conditions in patients.Care management tools are most widely used in groups with over 50 physicians and group/staff model HMOs. In Expectations Outpace Reality: Physicians’ Use of Care Management Tools for Patients with Chronic Conditions from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), researchers found that physicians’ use of tools varies widely even among those measures that have been proven to be effective.HSC surveyed 7 care management tools: Written materials for patient education Nurse managers to coordinate

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Grandpa's got a brand new bag: social media

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 14 December 2009 in Uncategorized

Nearly 8 million Americans 65 and over visited Facebook in November 2009. Nearly 8 million older Americans visited YouTube in November, too. After Google Search and Windows Media Player, the two big social networks are the most-visited websites among older Americans. So found The Nielsen Company, reported in the nielsenwire on December 10, 2009. One year ago, Facebook was the 45th most visited site by seniors. Today, it’s #3. 8.2% of social network visitors are over 65. That’s only 0.1 percentage points less than the proportion of teens visiting social network sites, according to Nielsen’s data based on November 2009

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IT as the new normal – how it translates to health care

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 9 December 2009 in Uncategorized

Improving efficiency and reducing costs is even more important to organizations today as it was last year. IT is a strategic investment for these objectives, discussed in IT in the new normal in the McKinsey Quarterly, December 2009. McKinsey surveyed corporate IT execs about the impact of the recession on IT. Despite the economic downturn — traumatic in several industry sectors — IT is seen as central to economic success. In fact, CxOs expect even greater IT investments next year. Organizations are keen to invest when they see a payback: in lowering costs, in improving effectiveness. The pressure in the

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Health care costs – the Mr. Scrooge of holiday spending

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 7 December 2009 in Uncategorized

Health care spending competes with other household spending, a fact we talk about a lot in Health Populi. For 2 in 5 Americans in this holiday season, the recession is forcing them to spend less on gifts. Only one in 5 Americans say their spending will be the same as in the last holiday season. For the majority of Americans, holiday spending declines are attributable to the cost of gas and household goods, recession fears, worries about job loss, and, yes, health care costs.This is especially true for women, those without health insurance and, not surprisingly, those with household incomes

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Consumers like government health websites more than Rx, hospital and insurers' sites

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 7 December 2009 in Uncategorized

While the U.S. Federal government gets regularly dissed in 2010 for all kinds of trespasses, there’s one area where they’re looking really good: online health websites. ForeSee Results found in their study, 2009 Healthcare Benchmark – Online Customer Satisfaction: Key Driver of Success and Future Use of Healthcare Websites, that more Americans rank government health websites higher in user satisfaction than any private sector segment, including pharmaceutical manufacturers’ sites, hospitals’ sites, and insurance companies’ websites. To be fair, pharmas come within one percentage point of government sites: while 79% of Americans are satisfied with government-provided health info online, 78% are

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Financial incentives promote engagment in health, EBRI finds – but who's engaged?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 4 December 2009 in Uncategorized

The fifth annual survey on consumer engagement in health care from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) finds that members of consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) are more cost-conscious than enrollees in traditional health plans. These members also tend to be more engaged in wellness and health promotion programs. Health engagement happens among this group in a variety of behaviors; enrollees in CDHPs are more likely to, Check whether the plan would cover care Ask for generic drugs vs. brands Talk to doctors about drug and treatment options, and their respective costs Have a budget to manage health care expenses And

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Obesity outweighs smoking when it comes to decreasing life expectancy

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 3 December 2009 in Uncategorized

Obesity is stronger than smoking, at least when it comes to which factor plays a larger role in killing you sooner vs. later. An 18 year old in 2005 who quits smoking would increase his life expectancy by 0.31 years. However, if that young adult had a BMI greater than 25 — even after quitting smoking — his life would be reduced by 0.71 years. “Forecasting the Effects of Obesity and Smoking on U.S. Life Expectancy,” a study in the December 3 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, finds that for all the good efforts in smoking

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Americans are burned out on health risk information

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 2 December 2009 in Uncategorized

American health citizens are burned out on risk communication from pharmaceutical companies. They’d prefer simpler approaches through websites like WebMD and icons like the Consumer Reports‘ multishape “moons” to learn about health risks. ORC Guideline, an info GROUP company, identified a health risk information overload in their latest survey of American adults, conducted in late October 2009. The company presented data at the recent FDA meeting on promoting regulated medical products using the Internet and social media on November 13, 2009. The top-line finding is that there’s an increase in the percent of Americans who feel there’s too much emphasis

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The Business Roundtable offers tips for restructuring the health market

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 30 November 2009 in Uncategorized

The health care market’s broken in the U.S., and it needs more help than Congress’s proposals are offering. What cost $10,743 for per-employee health care costs at large employers in 2009 will cost will nearly triple to $28,530 in 2019 if the status quo continues. If legislative proposals currently being discussed in Congress are implemented, that cost grow to $25,435. With greater restructuring for value, malpractice reform, and evidence-based medicine, the per-employee cost rises less, to $23,151 in 10 years. The menu of restructuring factors recommended by the Business Roundtable would soften per-employee cost growth to an annual rate of

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How to Engage with Grace – discuss your end-of-life plans with loved ones this Thanksgiving

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 26 November 2009 in Uncategorized

We count our blessings for which we are thankful this Thanksgiving weekend. Our health, our families, peace in our lives and around the globe…Health, yes, if we’re lucky. Now, think the unthinkable: some time, you’re going to get sick. Die, eventually.Now, ask yourself a few questions…Would you prefer to die at home or in the hospital? Who will advocate for you when that time comes?Do you have a living will? We who are engaged with Engaged with Grace ask you to not only get engaged yourself…but add this slide to the end of your presentations to spread this important message.Health

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Making health insurance affordable is Americans' #1 health reform priority – but elders seek status quo

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 24 November 2009 in Uncategorized

8 in 10 Americans say making sure affordable health insurance plans are available is Job 1 for health reform. The November 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll finds that affordability, insurance reform (especially coverage of pre-existing conditions), and managing the Federal deficit are top priorities for health reform across all Americans polled. Other reform elements favored by over 50% of Americans are subsidizing health insurance for uninsured who can’t afford it on their own (65%), and an individual mandate for health insurance (56%). Underneath these numbers are big differences between demographic groups–in particular, among those over 65 who seek to

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Will Verizon be the New American Well?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 24 November 2009 in Uncategorized

With the announcement of Verizon Connected Health Services, the telecommunications company is following on the pioneering work of Dr. Jay Sanders, arguably one of the godfathers of telemedicine, and the contemporary pioneer, American Well. Datamonitor predicts that the telehealth market will growth from $2.4 billion in 2009 to $6.1 bn in 2012. Verizon announced the program in a press release yesterday, which said that the business unit will focus on facilitating remote consultations and other programs like continuing medical education through a consultancy, “Telehealth Collaboration Services.” Verizon already has about 500 staff serving customers in the health vertical. Verizon says

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The new normal: government and business are out of touch with how U.S. families live and work

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 23 November 2009 in Uncategorized

In 1975, nearly one-half of American families had a sole wage-earner who was a husband. In 2008, those traditional families numbered only one in 5.Today, one-half of American workers are women, and one in five is a single working parent. 4 in 10 mothers is the primary bread-winner in her family.The Shriver Report, a study penned by Maria Shriver and The Center for American Progress, paints the picture of women in contemporary American society — New Breadwinners, Immigrants, Spiritual, Sharing the Load. At the end, the report finds that employers’ and government agencies’ policies don’t match up with what women

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Retail clinics, stalled in 2010, will grow to 2014

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 19 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Reports on the demise of the retail health clinic aren’t reading the tea leaves right, says Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions.While total retail clinics in operation numbered just over 1,000 in 2009, with modest growth since 2007, Deloitte forecasts growth exceeding 3,000 clinics by 2014. MinuteClinic and Take Care make up 72% of clinic market share in the U.S. The remainder of the clinic market is quite fragmented, with Wal-Mart taking on a hybrid model (both operating and sharing operations with local health systems). The majority of clinics are co-located in pharmacies. What’s going to drive accelerating growth of retail

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Global wellness strategies: the U.S. is unique, but all regions' businesses disconnect strategies from priorities

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 17 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Employers across the world recognize the value of employee health and well-being, both to their organizations and to their individual workers. Buck Consultants surveyed over 1,000 organizations in 45 countries and found that, globally, health promotion that focuses on worker productivity is spreading.However, employers in the United States have different priorities and perceived risks than businesses in other regions of the world.The report on the survey, Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies, spells out the differences between the U.S. and the ROW.The chart details the top 3 priorities among employers by region; in the

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Technology can help providers deal with cuts in Medicare, but many still waiting-and-seeing

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 17 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Health providers believe they’ll need to make better use of technology to offset proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement, according to a survey by IVANS.IVANS, the IT solutions provider, conducted this survey to gauge health providers’ perspectives on health reform and the impact of proposed Medicare cuts on operations.About 1 in 3 health providers views technology as a way to deal with downward trends in Medicare reimbursement, as the chart illustrates. Thus, providers are connecting the dots between the role of health care IT to reduce operating expenses, especially administrative costs.In the conclusion of its survey summary report, IVANS, which competes

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Americans Want Prevention in Health Reform

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 16 November 2009 in Uncategorized

One of few health reform topics all Americans agree on is the issue of prevention. The majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans rank prevention ahead of most other health reform initiatives, according to a survey conducted for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.The top health reform priority among Americans is insurance reform: specifically, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of age, medical history, or pre-existing condition, scoring 7.9 out of 10 based on the survey methodology.In second place in the survey among Americans’ health reform priorities were to invest in more prevention to help people stay healthy, and to provide

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Will the FDA support or inhibit participatory health care when it comes to social media?

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 13 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Yesterday and today, the FDA is listening to stakeholders at the nexus of social media and health relate their perspectives on the benefits of social media in health. The topic in its full title is “Promotion of FDA-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools.” This is a long-anticipated meeting that’s discussing the benefits, drawbacks and true stories about the Internet in health — in particular, related to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Full coverage online has been provided by igniteHealth, a health marketing agency, that’s tracking all tweets and presentations from the event. Representatives testified from a range

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Cost-effectiveness is not a harbinger of rationing health care

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 12 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Health care cost increases in the U.S. are unsustainable; there is universal agreement among U.S. health care stakeholders on this point. The uber-objective of “bending the cost curve” is a major sticking-point with the House-passed health reform bill.Some see cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) as one viable approach to managing health cost growth in the U.S. CEA balances health benefits of different clinical interventions for a specific condition and compares each intervention to their costs. A report from the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), Value Proposition: The Role of Cost-Effectiveness in Coverage Decisions, clearly explains CEA and offers recommendations on how the method

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Hospitals focus on quality, experience, and empowerment in patient portals

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 11 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Hospitals generally see the value of patient portals. In these projects, their highest-value goals are improving the quality of health care, enhancing patient experiences, empowering health consumers, and personalizing information. Geonetric conducted their eHealth Insight survey in August 2009 to learn more about hospitals goals and priorities for patient-facing Internet portals. Over 60% of hospitals and clinics who responded to the survey understood the value of a patient portal. One in 4 respondents had already built such a portal, and one-third looked to develop one in the next year. Ironically, while goals for portals were highly consumer-focused, future functional priorities

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Americans dying in hospitals cost more than those who are discharged, says AHRQ

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 11 November 2009 in Uncategorized

Some people believe they’re worth more dead than alive. When it comes to patient deaths in hospitals, that may indeed be the case. At least patients who die in hospitals cost more than inpatients who survive their stays. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), patient deaths in hospitals cost about $20 billion, based on AHRQ’s analysis of 765,651 hospital patient deaths in 2007. The average cost of a patient death in hospital was $26,035 over the course of 8.8 days. The average cost of an inpatient stay in 2007 was $9,447 generated over the course of

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Still a long road to EHR implementation:in U.S. hospitals

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 9 November 2009 in Uncategorized

When it comes to the adoption of electronic health records, it’s good to be urban, large, and teach. According to the latest report on EHR adoption, Health Information Technology in the United States: On the Cusp of Change, 2009, fewer than 2% of American hospitals used a comprehensive electronic health record (EHR) in 2008, 7.6% had a “basic” EHR based on the definition generated by an expert panel conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the George Washington University — the team that developed this full report on the state of EHRs in U.S. hospitals.The

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America's primary health care backbone needs reinvestment and re-imagining

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 5 November 2009 in Uncategorized

59% of U.S. physicians say their patients have difficulty paying for health care and medicines. The foot soldiers of American health care are front-line primary care physicians (PCPs). Compared to their colleagues in ten other developed countries, American PCPs say their nation is far behind other countries’ health systems in at least three ways: Patients’ access to health care The use of financial incentives to improve quality The use of health information technology, where U.S. physicians say 46% of doctors use EMRs versus over 90% of doctors in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the U.K. The

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Americans want to use email for all sorts of health apps

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 5 November 2009 in Uncategorized

59% of Americans want to receive test results via email. 1 in 2 would like to use email to request prescription refills, confirming appointments, telling doctors about their conditions, and asking questions about new conditions. Email is now the preferred communications medium for consumers in health. Second to email, using doctors’ websites would also be welcomed by many health consumers, especially for prescriptions and appointments. Physicians’ websites are somewhat less desirable communications platforms for communicating about personal health conditions. It is still too early for consumers en masse to embrace text messaging in health. Women were more likely than men

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