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How Can Patients Be Health Consumers in an Un-Transparent World?

That question in the title of this post is begged in the annual 2019 consumer survey released this week from UnitedHealthcare (UHC). UHC gauges peoples’ views on health care, insurance, and costs in its yearly research. This year, transparency and health literacy challenges top the findings. When the three in ten folks do shop, four in ten people used the internet or mobile apps to do so — a dramatic increase from 2012. Shopping is most commonly done among Millennials, one-half of whom shop for health care services. Of people who have used digital tools for health care shopping, 8

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“It’s the Deductible, Stupid” – Health Premiums Reach $20,576 in 2019 for a Family

        Here’s the latest arithmetic on American workers’ financial trade-off of wages for health care insurance coverage: in the ten years since 2009, family premiums have risen 54% and workers’ contribution to health care spending grew 71%. Wages? They rose 26%, and general price inflation by 20%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey on employer-sponsored benefits for 2019 released yesterday. Survey details for this 21st annual encyclopedia on employer-sponsored health care are published in Health Affairs October 2019 issue in a paper titled, Health Benefits in 2019: Premiums Inch Higher, Employers Respond to Federal Policy. Because this

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The Rise of Social Determinants of Health in Healthcare is Just Real Life Stuff for People, Patients, Consumers

Based on the influx of research studies and position papers on social determinants of health flowing into my email box and Google Alerts, I can say we’re past the inflection point where SDoH is embraced by hospitals, professional societies, health plans and even a couple of pioneering pharma companies. PwC published a well-researched global-reaching report this week appropriately titled, Action required: The urgency of addressing social determinants of health. The “wheel of determinants” illustrates potential partners for collaborating in communities to address SDoH factors. The collaborators include governments, health care providers, payors, life science and pharma, tech and telecomms, policy

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Worrying About Paying for Health Care Is the Norm in America

Among stresses facing people at least 50 years of age, health care costs rank top of mind compared with other issues like long-term care, health insurance, Social Security, taxes, and being read to retire. Worries about health care costs are particularly stressful among future retirees, 8 of 10 of whom share this top concern along with 7 in 10 recent retirees and 6 in 10 people retired for at least a decade. Health care stress cuts in two ways: most people are worried about paying for health care, as well as experienced an unanticipated decline in their health, according to

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Worrying About Possible Recession Compels Health Consumers to Seek Less Care

Four in ten U.S. patients said the state of the economy changes how often they seek health care, according to a new study from TransUnion, the credit agency that operates in the health care finance space. Nearly two-thirds of patients said that knowing their out-of-pocket expenses in advance of receiving health care services influenced the likelihood of their seeking care. Given reports from mass media, business press and regional Federal Reserve press releases, the short-to-midterm economic outlook may be softening, which is the signal that TransUnion is receiving in this health consumer poll. The other side of this personal health

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Thinking About Isaiah, User-Centered Design, and Healthcare – Heard at Health 2.0

Turning 13, “we’re an unruly teenager on our hands now,” Matthew Holt invoked the start of the annual Health 2.0 Conference, convening this week in Santa Clara for its 13th year in existence. Started with Co-Founder Indu Subaiya, Health 2.0 was conceived as a “movement,” Matthew explained. “When (we were) younger, we broke some things.” Indu continued on that riff, “we’re breaking barriers now (that) we are older, and it’s time to raise the bar.” In the yin-and-yang riffing style that is the brand of this duo, Matthew continued in that vein of “breaking things,” invoking a metaphor of storming

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Prelude to Health 2.0 2019: Thinking Consumers At the Center of Digital Health Transformation

“Digital transformation” is the corporate strategy flavor of the moment across industries, and the health are sector isn’t immune from the trend. As this 13th year of the annual Health 2.0 Conference kicks off this week, I’m focused on finding digital health innovations that engage people — consumers, caregivers, patients, health citizens all. This year’s conference will convene thought leaders across a range of themes, and as is the Health 2.0 modus operandi, live demo’s of new-new things. As Health 2.0 kicks off today in pre-conference sessions, there is useful context described in a new report from the American Hospital

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Most U.S. Voters Support Building on the ACA, Not Medicare For All, As Fewer Americans Have Insurance Coverage

The vast majority of Americans favor lowering the cost of prescriptions, keeping the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to cover pre-existing conditions, lower overall medical costs, and protect people from surprise medical bills, according to the KFF Health Tracking Poll – September 2019: Health Care Policy In Congress And On The Campaign Trail. The big headline in this poll following last night’s third Democratic Presidential debate is that 55% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independent voters prefer a candidate that will build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) versus a President that would replace the ACA with a Medicare For All plan (M4A).

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Phone Calls, Social Plans, and Entertainment As Prescriptions for Older Peoples’ Loneliness

Loneliness is a killer, a health risk factor that’s been equated to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There’s a Loneliness Epidemic in America, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA’s infographic here tells us that there’s a 45% greater risk of mortality among older people who feel lonely. Given that millions of seniors in the U.S. feel lonely on a regular basis, that translates into a huge risk of death for so many older people who feel disconnected from others. “As a force in shaping our health, medical

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Why Humana Joined CTA – The Pivot from “Health Insurance” to Behaving as a Health-Tech Start-Up

“Every company is a tech company,” Christopher Mimms asserted in the Wall Street Journal in December 2018. Connectivity, artificial intelligence, and automation are now competencies every company must master, Mimms explains. This ethos underpins Humana’s decision to join CTA, the Consumer Technology Association which hosts CES every January in Las Vegas. If you read this blog, you know one of the fastest-growing “aisles” at the annual conference is digital health. Humana joined up with CTA’s Health and Fitness Technology Division this month. Last year, Humana hired Heather Cox in the new post of Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer, reporting directly

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Health Consumers Expect Healthcare to be Digital (and Secure), Philips Future Health Index Finds

Health care system financing, delivery, and workflows widely vary across nations around the world. Philips surveyed health care professionals and consumers living in 15 countries, from North America to Asia, and found that these health systems share one over-arching objective: to provide quality care with improved experiences for both patients and healthcare professionals. Being Philips, what underpins that quality and experience is technology; Philips explored telehealth, AI, digital health records (DHRs), and other digital health tools that can engage patients. Philips published results from this global study in The Future Health Index 2019, themed “Transforming healthcare experiences, exploring the impact

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How Whirlpool’s #CareCounts Campaign Bolsters a Key Social Determinant of Health

Did you know that September is Attendance Awareness month? Me, neither. But reading one of last Sunday’s national newspapers, I noticed a full-page ad that read, “Whirlpool is helping keep kids in schools with washers and dryers.” Reading further on, the copy called out two data points making the point about laundry and education: One in five students don’t have access to clean clothes, making them more likely to miss school; and Students who miss school are 7 times more likely to drop out of educational system. The full ad’s theme in the words of Whirlpool is that, “Education has a

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Walmart’s Growing Footprint in Healthcare and Public Health, from Guns to Mental Health and Gardens

Over the past couple of weeks, Walmart is demonstrating its growing commitment to and leadership in healthcare and public health. The company’s announcement this week of pulling products that can be used in military-style weapons from its Outdoor Sports/Shooting department is a major move for public health that is something of a watershed that will impact well beyond the company’s inventory and stock price. This announcement will continue a trend among some thoughtful business leaders, like CEO Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods, banning gun sales from the retailer’s 125 stores in March 2019, who have begun to listen to

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The Pharma Industry Hits Bottom of Consumers’ Industry Rankings, and Healthcare Is Only Marginally Higher on the List

from Gallup’s 2019 survey into Americans’ Views of U.S. Business Industry Sectors. Since reaching a relative high regard in 2015, the pharma industry reputation among consumers has declined each year since to the low this year with 58% of Americans having a negative view. This was a 31 percentage point drop in reputation in one year. This is one negativity point above peoples’ low regard for the Federal government. Gallup notes that Americans are over two times more likely to rank the pharmaceutical industry negatively (58%) as positively (27%). The healthcare industry, apart from pharma, didn’t fare well this year in

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Celebrating “Labor Day” Welcoming Natalist to Our Health Ecosystem

There are many definitions of the word, “labor.” Oxford Dictionary provides context for the definition as follows: To work, as in especially hard physical work To make great effort (as in, “laboring from dawn to dusk”) To have difficulty in doing something despite working hard. For this third point, Oxford offers these synonyms: “strive, struggle, endeavor, try hard, do one’s best, do all one can, go all out, fight, push, be at pains, put oneself out.” And finally, one fourth contextual point: “A labor of love.” That is indeed the perfect framing this Labor Day week for my welcome to

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