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Most Americans Blame Drug Companies, Insurers, and Hospitals for High Health Care Costs

There’s little agreement between Democrats and Republicans on a plethora of issues in American public life. But one issue that brings U.S. citizens together is agreement that the cost of health care is too high in the country, and that pharma, health plans, and providers are to blame. Welcome to health politics in America as of March 2019, according to The Public and High U.S. Health Care Costs, a poll conducted by POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The first chart illustrates the common ground shared by Americans by party affiliation, with vast majorities across parties playing

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Our Mobile Health Data: Shared, Identifiable, and Privacy-Deprived

As more mobile app users — consumers, patients, and caregivers — use these handy digital health tools, much of the data we share can be re-identified and monetized by third parties well beyond those we believe we’re sharing with. This compromised health data privacy scenario comes out of research published this month in the BMJ, Data sharing practices of medicines related apps and the mobile ecosystem: traffic, content, and network analysis. The researchers, faculty from the University of Toronto (Canada) and the University of Sydney (Australia), come from nursing, pharmacy, and computer science expertise — a sound combination of disciplines

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Having Health Insurance Is A Social Determinant of Health

Health insurance was on the collective minds of American voters in the 2018 midterm elections. Health care, broadly defined, drove many people to the polls voting with feet and ballots to protect their access to a health plan covering a pre-existing condition or to protest the cost of expensive prescription drugs. These were the two top health care issues among voters in late 2018, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll at the time assessed. Yesterday, President Trump verbally re-branded the Republican Party as “the party of healthcare.” That Presidential pronouncement was tied to a letter written on U.S. Department of Justice

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Isn’t It Eyeconic? Vision Care in the Evolving Health Care Ecosystem

The vision/optical industry is one piece of the health/care ecosystem, but the segment has not been as directly impacted by patients’ new consumer muscles until just about now. It feels like the vision industry is at an inflection point at this moment, I intuited during yesterday’s convening of Decoding the Consumer: The new science of customer behavior, the theme of the 13th annual global leadership summit hosted by Vision Monday, a program of Jobson Medical Information which is part of the WebMD family. I was grateful to have an opportunity to share my views with attendees on the vision patient as

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The Evolution of Self-Care for Consumers – Learning and Sharing at CHPA

Self-care in health goes back thousands of years. Reading from Hippocrates’ Corpus about food and clean air’s role in health sounds contemporary today. And even in our most cynical moments, we can all hearken back to our grandmothers’ kitchen table wisdom for dealing with skin issues, the flu, and broken hearts. The annual conference of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) convened this week, and I was grateful to attend and speak on the evolving retail health landscape yesterday. Gary Downing, CEO of Clarion Brands and Chairman of the CHPA Board, kicked off the first day with a nostalgic look

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Medical Issues Are Still The #1 Contributor to Bankruptcy in the U.S., An AJPH Study Asserts

Medical costs in America are still the top contributor to personal bankruptcy in the U.S., a risk factor in two-thirds of bankruptcies filed between 2013 and 2016. That’s a sad fiscal fact, especially as more Americans gained access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPA). Between 2013 and 2016, about 530,000 bankruptcies were filed among U.S. families each year associated with medical reasons, illustrated in Table 1 from the study. The report, Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act, updates research from 2007 which

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Self-Care Is Healthcare In Consumers’ Hands, Peaking on Google Trends

Today, the number of searches on Google using the phrase “self-care” reached a high, shown in the line graph I created on Google Trends and marked up in red. A Google search overall yielded over 2 billion results. I started this search when the Great Recession began in the U.S. in December 2007, and tracked “self-care” searches to today, 15 March 2019. I ran this little test because I’m speaking on Monday 18 March at the annual meeting of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. CHPA was founded in 1881 as the “Proprietary Association.” In 1989, over 100 years later, the

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Patients, Health Consumers, People, Citizens: Who Are We In America?

“Patients as Consumers” is the theme of the Health Affairs issue for March 2019. Research published in this trustworthy health policy publication covers a wide range of perspectives, including the promise of patients’ engagement with data to drive health outcomes, citizen science and participatory research where patients crowdsource cures, the results of financial incentives in value-based plans to drive health care “shopping” and decision making, and ultimately, whether the concept of patients-as-consumers is useful or even appropriate. Health care consumerism is a central focus in my work, and so it’s no surprise that I’ve consumed every bit of this publication. [In

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Can AI Make Healthcare Human Again? Dr. Topol Says “Yes”

“The Fourth Industrial Age,” Dr. Abraham Verghese writes, “has great potential to help, but also to harm, to exaggerate the profound gap that already exists between those who have much and those who have less each passing year.” Dr. Verghese asserts this in his forward to Deep Medicine, Dr. Eric Topol’s latest work which explores the promise of artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, and robotics — three legs of the Fourth Industrial Age stool. [If you don’t know the work of Dr. Verghese, and since you’re reading the Health Populi blog, you must get to know Dr. V now. Your

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Loving Wegmans and Amazon, Hating on the US Government: the Axios Harris Poll 100 in 2019

Americans love grocery stores, responsible retailers, technology and Amazon, Axios and Harris Poll found in this year’s top 100 visible company poll. The bottom five of the 100 include a big bank that ripped off consumers, a bankrupt retailer, a Big Tobacco company, and two organizations led by President Trump: The Trump Organization (#98) and the U.S. Government (#100). The summary points to five key findings in the report: The U.S. Government is the worst “company” in America according to “The Citizens of America,” in the words of Axios and Harris Poll. Americans have acquired “prime” tastes and expectations through

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The Balance of Personalization and Privacy For Health/Care – Amazon and Beyond

“Is it possible to take personalization too far for consumers?” asks a paper on Privacy and Personalization from SmarterHQ. The answer is, “it depends.” Consumers are sending mixed messages to marketers about their preferences for being forgotten versus being engaged and recognized. This tension has extreme relevance for personal health and healthcare, as AI and data analytics become quickly adopted by payors, insurance companies, providers, pharma, and consumer tech companies that lie outside of HIPAA privacy and security regulations. SmarterHQ polled over 1,000 consumers and found that: Most consumers are concerned about their data privacy, and believe that companies know too

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Most Americans Across Party ID Favor U.S. Government Negotiation to Lower Rx Drug Costs

There’s little Americans, by political party, agree upon in 2019. One of the only issues bringing people together in the U.S. is prescription drug prices — that they’re too high, that the Federal government should negotiate to lower costs for Medicare enrollees, and that out-of-pocket costs for drugs should be limited. The Kaiser Family Foundation has been tracking this topic for a few years, and this month, their March 2019 Health Tracking Poll shows vast majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all share these sentiments. It’s not that patients who take prescription drugs don’t appreciate them – most (58%) say medicines

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Digital Transformation Is The New Mantra But Can’t Happen Without Access To Connectivity

As more of our “things” get digitally connected, there’s an unanswered question about how our connected lives impact human life and health. A new report from the OECD asks and answers: How’s Life in the Digital Age? Opportunities and Risks of the Digital Transformation for People’s Well-being. This research is part of OECD’s ongoing series asking the Big Question, “How’s Life?” A prevailing current mantra in work and daily living is “digital transformation.” The OECD broadly defined the phrase in their 2017 paper on the topic as follows: Mobility, cloud computing, the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big

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Loneliness Is A Health Risk, Especially Among Older People

In America, one in three people over 50 years of age feels a lack of companionship, and one-fourth feel isolated from other people, according to a new poll on loneliness and aging from the University of Michigan, sponsored by AARP. The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging surveyed some 2,000 U.S. adults age 50–80 in October 2018, assessing older peoples’ health, health behaviors, experiences and feelings related to companionship and social isolation. While three in four people have frequent social contact with family, friends and neighbors outside of their home, the remaining one in four have social contact once a

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