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400 Walking Gallery Jackets and Celebrating Jess Jacobs, the #FirstToFall

In the past week, the patient engagement/empowerment community marked two major events: the achievement of 400 painted patient stories in The Walking Gallery, and the loss of one of our tribe — Jess Jacobs. Jess passed away from complications of a complex condition called POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), made even more complicated by the fragmented, institution-focused (vs. patient-focused) healthcare she received. Jess documented many of her interactions with her health care providers, largely located in the Washington, DC, health care community, on social media–leaving a legacy and evidence on exactly how not to do patient care. You can experience

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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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PhRMA vs. Employers: Healthcare Costs In the Eye of the Beholder

In the past week, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the advocacy organization for the branded prescription drug industry, published Medicines: Costs in Context,” the group’s lens on the value of prescription drugs in the larger healthcare economy. Their view: that prescription drug costs comprise a relatively low share of health care spending in America, and a high-value one at that. PhRMA contends that 10% of the health care dollar was allocated to prescription drugs in 2015, the same proportion as in 1960. “Even with new treatments for hepatitis C, high cholesterol and cancer, spending on retail prescription

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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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The Drug Epidemic-Testing and Data Arm the Battle

More than 40 Americans die every day from prescribed opiate overdoses, Dr. Tom Frieden of the CDC has recognized. The harms of pain-killing drugs have been substantial: Dr. Frieden observed, “the prevalence of opioid dependence may be as high as 26% among patients in primary care receiving opioids for chronic non-cancer-related pain.” There were more deaths due to drug overdoses in 2014 than in any previous year, 61% of which involved opioid pain relieving medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodine, and heroin which has grown in use over the past few years. The CDC has recommended that healthcare providers do

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The Growing Aisles of Wearable Health Devices

When a person dons a piece of wearable technology, they first look to engage with some aspect of health or fitness before they seek entertainment. To satisfy that demand side of the market equation, we’re seeing a stream of devices, platforms, and corporate strategies trying to reach the wearable tech consumer. Today, Philips announced its expanding strategy for digital health, launching devices to help people, in Philips’ words, measure, monitor, and stay motivated for personal health. The company is offering a health smartwatch, a weight scale, an ear thermometer, and two blood pressure monitors (for wrist and upper arm), all

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More Hospitals Extend Online Patient Access to EHRs

A majority of U.S. hospitals could enable patients digital access to their personal medical records in 2015. Specifically, nearly all US hospitals offer patients the opportunity to view their medical records online in 2015. Eight in 10 hospitals were able to download patient information from their medical record as well as enable patients to request a change to that record, according to a Trendwatch report from the American Hospital Association (AHA), Individuals’ Ability to Electronically Access Their Hospital Medical Records, Perform Key Tasks is Growing. Over the past several years, hospitals have made significant capital investments in buying, adopting, and

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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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The Average Monthly Health Plan Premium in the U.S. Hit $885 in 2016

  Three years after the launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the big picture of employer-sponsored health benefits in the U.S. show stability, with modest changes in costs being kept in check by a growing younger workforce, according to the 2016 ADP Annual Health Benefits Report. Roughly 9 in 10 employees in large companies are eligible to participate in health insurance plans at the workplace, with two-thirds of people participating, shown in the chart. Younger people, under 26 years of age, have much lower participation rates than those over 26, with many staying on their parents’ plans (taking advantage of

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Broadband – A Social Determinant of Health

The promise of digital, connected health to engage all health citizens cannot be fully realized until people have access to the new social determinant of health: broadband connectivity. The World Health Organization considers social determinants of health inputs like education, safe drinking water, nutritious food, safe neighborhoods for walking, employment and transportation access. Together, these factors bolster personal/individual and public health. See the map of the U.S., and note whee the concentrations of aqua blue are. These are areas that lack broadband access. Telehealth and other digital health tools can get health care to under-served people in under-served geographic areas….where broadband

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Retail Clinics Continue to Shape Local Healthcare Markets

Retail clinics are a growing source of primary care for more U.S. health consumers, discussed in a review of retail clinics published by Drug Store News in July 2016. There will be more than 2,800 retail clinics by 2018, according to Accenture’s tea leaves. Two key drivers will bolster retail clinics’ relevance and quality in local health delivery systems: Retail clinics’ ability to forge relationships with legacy health care providers (physicians, hospitals); and, Clinics’ adoption and effective use of information technology that enables data sharing (e.g., to the healthcare provider’s electronic health records system) and data liquidity (that is, securely moving

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Health in America: Improving, But Disparities Need Policy Prescriptions

The bad news: mortality rates haven’t improved much and obesity rates rose in one-third of communities. The good news: public health gains can be made in resource-poor communities with the right health policies, based on research from The Commonwealth Fund, Rising to the Challenge, the Fund’s Scorecard on local health system performance for 2016. The top-line of this benchmark report is that health care in the U.S. has, overall, improved more than it’s declined. Among the big levers driving health care improvement in the past year have been the further expansion of health citizens covered with insurance through the Affordable

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

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

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Samsung and Garmin Beat Fitbit in JD Power Fitness Band Match-Up

J.D. Power, the company best known for evaluating consumers’ experiences with automobiles, published its 2016 Fitness Band Device Satisfaction Report this week. The bar chart summarizes overall satisfaction with activity tracking wristbands, led by Samsung with the highest index score, followed by Garmin. Below the average index were LG, Fitbit, and Jawbone. Samsung’s top grade translates into J.D. Power’s methodology as “among the best” fitness bands, based on a 1,000 point scale. Samsung’s high ranking was earned based on particularly strong scores for customer satisfaction in comfort, reliability, and ease of use. Garmin’s customer service was also highly rated, along

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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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Most Wired Hospitals Spending on Cybersecurity, Telehealth and Population Health

Investing information technology dollars in telehealth and mobile platforms, patient engagement, and cybersecurity are major focuses for leading IT-savvy hospitals in America, according to the 2016 Most Wired survey of healthcare organizations, released in July 2016 sponsored by Hospitals and Health Networks and Health Forum, a division of the American Hospitals Association. This survey, in its 18th year, has become an important benchmark measuring the adoption of information technology tools and services among American hospitals and health systems. The complete list of Most Wired hospitals for 2016 can be found here. The most popular telehealth services offered by the Most Wired hospitals are

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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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More Patients Morph Into Financially Burdened Health Consumers

Health care payment responsibility continues to shift from employers to employee-patients, More of those patients are morphing into financially burdened health consumers, according to TransUnion, the credit agency and financial risk information company, in the TransUnion Healthcare Report published in June 2016. Patients saw a 13% increase in their health insurance deductible and out-of-pocket (OOP) maximum costs between 2014 and 2015. At the same time, the average base salary in the U.S. grew 3% in 2015, SHRM estimated. Thus, deductibles and OOP costs grew for consumers more than 4 times faster than the average base salary from 2014 to 2015.  In

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