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Food Insecurity, Energy Prices, and Medical Debt Spike in February 2022

There’s a trifecta cost challenge hitting U.S. household budgets in February 2022, highlighted in a poll from Morning Consult: inflationary spikes for housing, food, and energy, and the COVID-19 Omicron variant forcing health care costs up for some consumers driving medical debt up. This further underscores the reality that medical spending in the U.S. is taking shape as a consumer service or good, competing with — potentially crowding out — other household line items like food and increasingly costly petrol to fill gas tanks. Or taken the other way, gas and food crowding out health care spending, leading to either

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Medical Distancing Is Bad For Your Health

“Social distancing is great. Medical distancing? Not so much,” I observe in Medical Distancing in America: A Lingering Pandemic Side Effect., my essay published this week in Medecision’s Liberate Health blog. Since we learned to spell “coronavirus,” we also learned the meaning and risk-managing importance of physical distance early in the COVID-19 pandemic. But medical distancing became a corollary life-flow of the physical version, and for our collective health and well-being, it hasn’t been good for our health in ways beyond keeping our exposure to the virus at bay. For health care providers — physicians, hospitals, ambulatory clinics, diagnostic centers —

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Doximity Study Finds Telehealth Is Health for Every Day Care

There’s more evidence that doctors and patients, both, want to use telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic fades. Doximity’s second report on telemedicine explores both physicians’ and patients’ views on virtual care, finding most doctors and health consumers on the same page of virtual care adoption. For the physicians’ profile, Doximity examined 180,000 doctors’ who billed Medicare for telemedicine claims between January 2020 and June 2021. Telemedicine use did not vary much across physician age groups. Doctors in specialties that manage chronic illnesses were more likely to use telehealth: endocrinology (think: diabetes), gastroenterology, rheumatology, urology, nephrology, cardiology, ENT, neurology, allergy, and

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Michael Graves and CVS Health – A Match Made in Health Design Heaven

On the Michael Graves Design company’s website, they talk about “Design for All” and “The House and Everything in it.” “Michael Graves Design exists to offer products that create moments of joy in your life.” Prominently featured in the Health section on the homepage are “walking canes reimagined.” The company has unveiled its partnership with CVS Health to continue the architect-turned-disability rights advocate’s legacy combining brilliant design with  mainstream retail accessibility and another riff on accessibility: for health care and caregiving. Graves passed away in 2015. He continues to inspire the Michael Graves Design team/family with the mission: “By focusing

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How Social Media Can Get Public Health So Wrong

This week, public health truths have collided with social media, the infodemic, and health citizenship. First, I read in Becker’s Health IT on February 16 that the peer-reviewed policy journal Health Affairs was prevented by a social media outlet from promoting its February 2022 issue themed “Racism and Health.” The company said the topic was too controversial to feature in this moment. “Google and Twitter are blocking its paid media ads to promote the content, flagging racism as ‘sensitive content,'” Molly Gamble explained in Becker’s. I myself used the blogging platform you’re on now to promote the February ’22 issue of

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Love and Health: The Education of Abner Mason, SameSky Health

It felt super appropriate that I met up with Abner Mason, Founder of SameSky Health, on Valentine’s Day 2022. While we conversed via Zoom, Abner’s positive energy vibrated over the 5,600 miles between him in LA County and me in Brussels, Belgium – nine hours apart, but in the proverbial same room in the conversation. My initial ask of Abner was to discuss the re-branding of ConsejoSano to SameSky Health, but I first wanted to hear the man’s origin story. And that, you will learn, has everything to do with loving parents, the power of education from a young age,

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On Valentine’s Day 2022, Let’s Remember That Love is a Social Determinant of Health

While love can’t solve all of the world’s problems, it is absolutely a basic human need and a positive force for health and well-being. For today’s Health Populi blog, I have curated a big hug-full of posts I’ve written over the years building the evidence base of love as a determinant of health. As a sidebar, the graphic you see here — my “WiFi Heart” — was purposefully commissioned to my web designer to incorporate elements of love and connectivity. Wishing you all the blessing of love in your life, in all of its glorious and health-ful forms…XO JSK My

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Only 1 in 4 People Over 50 Use a Mobile Health App – And They Tend to Be Healthier and Wealthier

Just over 1 in 4 people over 50 in the U.S. use at least one mobile health app, and 56% of older people have never used one. Among seven mhealth tools, the most commonly-used is to track exercise. Among older people who do not use health apps, half say it is because of their lack of interest, we learn from the research in Mobile Health App Use Among Older Adults from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, sponsored by AARP. The project is part of Michigan Medicine, U-M’s med school, and directed by the Institute for Healthcare

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The Wellness Economy in 2022 Finds Health Consumers Moving from Feel-Good Luxury to Personal Survival Tactics

The Future of Wellness in 2022 is, “shifting from a ‘feel-good’ luxury to survivalism as people seek resilience,” based on the Global Wellness Institute’s forecast on this year’s look into self-care and consumer’s spending on health beyond medical care — looking beyond COVID-19. GWI published two research papers this week on The Future of Wellness and The Global Wellness Economy‘s country rankings as of February 2021. I welcomed the opportunity to spend time for a deep dive into the trends and findings with the GWI community yesterday exploring all of the data, listening through my health economics-consumer-technology lens. First, consider

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“We’ve normalized a very high death toll in the U.S.” – How A Trust Deficit Has Infected America’s COVID Outcomes

Trust, or really lack thereof, is a killer app for people’s coronavirus health outcomes. That is the through-line found in a very deep dive into 177 countries’ health data published in The Lancet in a research article on pandemic preparedness and COVID-19. The Lancet study, published on 1 February 2022, was funded by the Gates Foundation in partnership with The Bloomberg Philanthropies et al. The study was researched and written up by a team of COVID-19 National Preparedness Collaborators, led by Dr. Joseph Dieleman of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a group that has been long-tracking

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What the Future of Re-Charging Your Car Has to Do With Your Health

Health care must confront its role in the climate crisis, a JAMA viewpoint asserted on January 31, 2022. Dr. Kenneth Kizer and Dr. Kari Nadeau recommended that, “Instead of contributing to climate change, health care as an enterprise could become a model for environmental sustainability.” This ethos was called out at the recent COP26 UN Climate Conference which resulted in a portfolio of health care initiatives for providers, globally, to address climate change as a macro determinant of health. Consumers — now morphing into health citizens — also can (and should) play starring roles in doing what we can in daily

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How Twitter Revealed Consumer Health Care Trends in the Pandemic

During the pandemic, millions of people connected with Twitter to share thoughts and feelings about the pandemic…and their health. Three mega-trends bubbled up on the platform for health — telemedicine and virtual care, broadband access, and mental health, discussed in a Birdseye Report Industry Deep Dive into Health from Brandwatch, partnering with Twitter. For this report, Brandwatch utilized only English-language public Twitter data. Brandwatch collated and analyzed tweets between January 1st 2019 and November 20 2021, that mentioned any of the following phrases: telemedicine, telehealth, virtual care, digital medicine, digimedicine, mental health, doom scrolling, trauma dumping, and meeting fatigue. Tweets

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Will “Buy Now, Pay Later” Financing Help Health Consumers Pay Their Medical Bills?

Aflac, our favorite duck-mascot-representing company, has launched the Close the Gap initiative featuring spokesman Deion Sanders, one of the good guys in the Football Hall of Fame. Recognizing the fact that nearly one-half of insured Americans don’t have enough in savings to pay for medical expenses, the company established the Aflac Care Index to educate and advocate for peoples’ health and financial security — including those people who have health care coverage. While U.S. consumers are facing historically high levels of inflation for household spending on food, petrol, and home goods, health consumers will be dealing with greater out-of-pocket spending based

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