The New Financial Toxicity in Health Care: The Cost of Hospitalization

In healthcare, we use the word “toxicity” when it comes to taking a new medicine, especially a strong therapy to cure cancer. That prescription may be toxic as a harmful side effect on our journey to getting well. The concept of “financial toxicity” for cancer patients was raised by concerned clinicians at Sloane-Kettering Medical Center, who discussed the topic on 60 Minutes in 2014 and have published papers on the issue. Beyond strong medicines, a new financial toxicity has emerged for patients due to hospital inpatient admissions. A new article in the New England Journal of Medicine studies Myth and


How the Latest on Facebook and the “Deep State” Could Undermine Patient Data Sharing and AI

There’s a potential large obstacle that could prevent the full benefits of the current go-go, bullish forecasts for artificial intelligence (AI) to help make healthcare better: a decline in consumers’ willingness to share their personal data. Along with the overall erosion of peoples’ trust in government and other institutions comes this week’s revelations about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the so-called Deep State. Three-fourths of Americans believe that some type of “Deep State” in the federal government exists, a new poll from Monmouth University published yesterday. I clipped the responses to three of the survey’s most relevant questions here. Not only


How We Spend Versus What We Get: America’s Healthcare Spending Makes for Poor Health

The U.S. spent nearly twice as much as other wealthy countries on healthcare, mostly due to higher prices for both labor and products (especially prescription drugs). And, America spends more on administrative costs compared to other high-income countries. What do U.S. taxpayers get in return for that spending? Lower life spans, higher maternal and infant mortality, and the highest level of obesity and overweight among our OECD peer nations. These sobering statistics were published in Health Care Spending in the Untied States and Other High-Income Countries this week in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study analyzes


FemTech is Hot, and Fitbit Knows It

Girls Rule the World, Beyoncé has told us. But not when it comes to digital health…at least until 2018, as Fitbit has announced a woman-focused smartwatch called the Versa which is expected to hit the market in April 2018. The waterproof Versa will measure heart rate, do the usual fitness tracking metrics, and enable women to track their menstrual cycle. Fitbit has been quite clear that the device isn’t for conception or contraception. The watch will be priced at $199 at retail, a much lower price-point than the Apple Watch at $329. So here Fitbit also has an argument for


Rx 2018: A New Era of Specialty Drugs, Telehealth, Mobile Apps and Value, IQVIA Reports

In 2018, spending on branded prescription drugs will fall in wealthy countries, while spending on specialty drugs will increase, resulting in flat medicines spending. In the U.S., net spending on medicines will fall in 2018 and remain flat at about $800 per person, according to forecasts in 2018 and Beyond: Outlook and Turning Points, from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. “Concerns about existing medicine costs have captured significant attention,” the introduction warns, setting the stage for slowing growth. Key factors for slow growth include payor concerns about budgets and the consideration of value when deciding on access for new


Patient Privacy And Cyber In-Security at HIMSS 2018

Nearly one-half of Americans experienced a personal data breach in the past three years, the third annual national cybersecurity survey found. Ensuring privacy and cybersecurity should become integrated into the healthcare industry’s consideration of a patient’s consumer experience. This makes sense, given that privacy and cybersecurity ranked the second highest priority to hospitals and healthcare providers polled in HIMSS 2018 Healthcare Leadership Survey. Providers put patient safety as #1. Appropriately, privacy and security were hot topics at HIMSS Annual Conference this year, in respond to providers’ demands for more education and concerns around the challenges. Let’s put these concerns in


Will People Enrolled in Medicaid Want to Be Amazon Prime’d?

Amazon is planning to extend Prime subscriptions to people enrolled in Medicaid for the discount price of $5.99 a month instead of the recent price increase to $12.99/month or $99 a year. The $5.99 a month calculates to a 27% break on the annual Prime membership cost. Medicaid enrollees who want to take advantage of the deal must provide Amazon with a scan or image of the card they use for their benefit (either Medicaid or EBT). These consumers can enroll annually, for a maximum of four years. Here’s what the Seattle Times, Amazon’s hometown newspaper, said about the program.


Tweets at Lunch with Paul Krugman – Health IT Meets Economics

            I greatly appreciated the opportunity today to attend a luncheon at the HX360 meeting which convened as part of the 2018 HIMSS Conference. The speaker at this event was Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics 10 years ago and today is an iconic op-ed columnist at the New York Times And Distinguished Professor of Economics at the City University of New York (CUNY). I admit to being a bit of a groupie for Paul Krugman’s work. It tickles me to look at Rise Global’s list of the Top 100 Influential Economists:


Wearable, Shareable, Virtual: The Demands of the Digital Health Consumer in 2018

As I wrote here in April 2017, telehealth and virtual healthcare are mainstreaming. This week at the 2018 annual HIMSS conference, telehealth is playing a mainstream role in discussions about right-sizing and right-placing healthcare.     The evidence for telehealth’s tipping point is rooted in new research published today by Accenture on Patients + Doctors + Machines, Accentures’ 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health. I sat down today with Dr. Kaveh Safavi who leads Accenture’s healthcare practice to discuss the results of this study into peoples’ atttudes toward healthcare technology and innovation. Three in four consumers in America say technology is


Collaboration is the New Innovation – Designing for Health with Amy Cueva at #HIMSS18

“It’s not about shiny new technologies but about designing relationships to truly impact the patient at the center of the disconnected ecosystem,” asserted Amy Cueva, Founder and CXO of the design consultancy Mad*Pow. That patient is a consumer, a caregiver; it’s you and me, Cueva explained. To reconnect the fragmented pieces of healthcare delivery, Cueva said, mantra-style, “collaboration is the new innovation.” And collaboration with patients, caregivers — the people for whom that healthcare is aimed — is the optimal workflow for effectively, enchantingly designing healthcare. In a talk she delivered at the Innovation Summit in a preconference meet-up at the annual


What the Latest Pew Consumer Data Means for #HIMSS18

The median American uses 3 social networking platforms in 2018. Facebook is the primary platform for most Americans who use social media in 2018: two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook, and 3 in 4 of them check in on a daily basis. But in the past year, the percentage of people using Facebook and its corporate sister YouTube has flattened, based on the survey report, Social Media Use in 2018 from the Pew Research Center. The Pew team researched U.S. adults’ use of social media across eight popular platforms.     Instagram has gained consumer favor over the past two years,


How One Hospital System Baked Love Into Their Health App

On July 18, 2017, Neil Gomes, Chief Digital Officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, tweeted this: When I saw this tweet, I was especially struck by Gomes’s phrase, “Designed & developed with heart/love by my @DICEGRP.” That’s Jefferson’s health solutions group that focuses on digital innovation and consumer experience. Here’s a health system that’s focused on that customer experience, which has become a critical success factor for healthcare to thrive. That’s because, as Steve Laughlin, VP and General Manager of IBM’s Global Consumer Group recently explained to me, a consumer’s last great customer experience becomes the


Majority Rules? The Right to Affordable Health Care is A Right for All Americans

If we’re playing a game of “majority rules,” then everyone in America would have the right to affordable health care, according to a new poll from The Commonwealth Fund. The report is aptly titled, Americans’ Views on Health Insurance at the End of a Turbulent Year. The Fund surveyed 2,410 U.S. adults, age 19 to 64, by phone in November and December 2017. This is the sixth survey conducted by the Fund to track Americans’ views of the Affordable Care Act; the first survey was fielded in mid-to-fall 2013. 9 in 10 working-age adults say “yes” indeed, my fellow Americans


Add Behavioral Data to Social Determinants For Better Patient Understanding

“Health agencies will have to become at least as sophisticated as other consumer/retail industries in analyzing a variety of data that helps uncover root causes of human behavior,” Gartner recommended in 2017. That’s because “health” is not all pre-determined by our parent-given genetics. Health is determined by many factors in our own hands, and in forces around us: physical environment, built environment, and public policy. These are the social determinants of health, but knowing them even for the N of 1 patient isn’t quite enough to help the healthcare industry move the needle on outcomes and costs. We need to


Building Trust and Truth in Patient Social Networks

We are only just past the dawn of the second machine age, where digitization is enabling artificial intelligence. “Our new tools are destroying both trust and truth, creating a hunger for community and authenticity. We crave actual physical connection to neighbours, colleagues, and fellow townspeople, even if digitally facilitated.”  Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote this in a column I read this morning in the Financial Times titled, “Our struggle with technology to protect trust and truth.” Trust and truth underpin health engagement, we learned in the first Edelman Health Engagement Barometer launched ten years ago. Those were the early days of the formation


More Working Americans Enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans in 2017

Over four in 10 U.S. workers were enrolled in a high-deductible health plan in the first 9 months of 2017, according to the latest research published by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The report details Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2017. About 28 million people were uninsured in the U.S. in 2017, about the same proportion as in 2016 — but nearly 20 million fewer than in 2010, as the line chart illustrates. The


How Albertsons Grocery Stores and Rite Aid Can Help Remake Healthcare

Albertsons, the grocery group with popular brands like Acme, Safeway, and Vons, announced a merger with Rite Aid, the retail pharmacy chain. The deal has been discussed as Albertsons’ move to succeed in light of growing competition from Amazon and Whole Foods, the proposed CVS/Aetna merger, and Walgreens’ possible purchase of AmerisourceBergen (finalizing its acquisition of over 1,900 Rite Aid stores). If played out well, the combination could become an important player in the evolving U.S. health/care ecosystem that brings a self-care front-door closer to consumers, patients and caregivers. “The new company is expected to serve more than 40 million


Consumer Health and Patient Engagement – Are We There Yet?

Along with artificial intelligence, patient engagement feels like the new black in health care right now. Perhaps that’s because we’re just two weeks out from the annual HIMSS Conference which will convene thousands of health IT wonks, users and developers (I am the former), but I’ve received several reports this week speaking to health engagement and technology that are worth some trend-weaving. As my colleague-friends Gregg Masters of Health Innovation Media (@2healthguru) and John Moore of Chilmark Research (@john_chilmark)  challenged me on Twitter earlier this week: are we scaling sustained, real patient engagement and empowerment yet? Let’s dive into the


A Tale of Two States: Idaho, Limiting Health Plan Benefits; and Oregon, Moving Toward Universal Health Care

The United States don’t feel very united these days on a whole range of issues. But today, I’m struck by a 180-degree-apart chasm between Idaho and Oregon. While the centers of these two states only lie 290 miles from each other, they are worlds apart when it comes to their views on their residents as health citizens. Idaho. First, let’s travel to Idaho, aka the Gem State due to its rich endowment of natural resources. Health insurers in the state are now allowed to offer plans with limited benefits, escaping the rules for plans in the Affordable Care Act that


The $4 Trillion Health Economy of 2020

In 2020, national health expenditures (NHE) in the United States will exceed $4 trillion to cover 334.5 million Americans. That equates to 18.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and $12,230.40 of health spending per person. I sat in on a press call today with researchers from the Office of the Actuary working in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review the annual forecast of the NHE, published in Health Affairs in a statistically-dense eleven page article titled, National Health Expenditure Projections, 2017-2026: Despite Uncertainty, Fundamentals Primarily Drive Spending Growth. What are those “fundamentals” pushing up healthcare spending?