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Income Inequality For Older Americans Among Highest in the World – What This Means for Healthcare

Old-age inequality among current retirees in the U.S. is already greater than in ever OECD country except Chile and Mexico, revealed in Preventing Ageing Unequally from the OECD. Key findings from the report are that: Inequalities in education, health, employment and income start building up from early ages At all ages, people in bad health work less and earn less. Over a career, bad health reduces lifetime earnings of low-educated men by 33%, while the loss is only 17% for highly-educated men Gender inequality in old age, however, is likely to remain substantial: annual pension payments to the over-65s today are

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Most Consumers Would Trust a Health Info Site “Prescribed” by Their Doctor

Most consumers access the Internet for health information before they ask their doctor for the same information. But virtually everyone who goes online for health information would trust a website recommended to them by their doctor, according to the dotHealth Consumer Health Online – 2017 Research Report. This survey was conducted on behalf of dotHealth, an internet registry company channeling “.health” domains to organizations in the broad health and healthcare landscape. [FYI, both Health Populi and JaneSarasohnKahn are also registered with .health domains, having availed ourselves of this service at launch]. Six in 10 consumers who have used the internet in the

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Most Americans Are Concerned About Healthcare Policy, and Costs Top the List of Concerns

4 in 5 Americans are aware of potential changes to healthcare policy brewing in Washington, DC. 92% of them are concerned about those changes, according to Healthcare Consumers in a Time of Uncertainty, the fifth annual survey from Transamerica Center for Health Studies. Peoples’ most-shared fears are losing their coverage for pre-existing conditions, out-of-pocket spending, and a ban on lifetime limits. That boils down to one thing: cost. That is, cost, for having to spend money on services not-covered by their health insurance plan; cost for out-of-pocket items under-insured, denied, or requiring coinsurance or co-payments; and, catastrophic costs that rise beyond

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What Health Plans Must Learn from Amazon

One in two U.S. consumers told Aflac that enrolling in health insurance should feel like an experience on Amazon. But health consumers still lack that high benchmark retail experience with health plans, based on new research published in HealthMine’s 2017 Health Intelligence Report focusing on communication and digital healthcare tools. “Most members believe health plan communications are impersonal and centered around bills rather than healthcare guidance,” HealthMine asserts in the introduction to the report. That’s about as un-Amazon as we can imagine.   Top findings from HealthMine’s research are that: 3 in 4 consumers don’t think their health insurance plan

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What Patients Feel About Technology, Healthcare Costs and Social Determinants

U.S. consumers feel positive about the roles of technology and social determinants in improving healthcare, but are concerned about costs, according to the 2017 Patient Survey Report conducted for The Physicians Foundation. The survey gauged patients’ perspectives across four issues: the physician-patient relationship, the cost of healthcare, social determinants of health, and lifestyle choices. Two key threads in the research explain how Americans feel about healthcare in the U.S. at this moment: the role of technology and the cost of health care. First, the vast majority of consumers view technology, broadly defined, as important for their health care. 85% of people

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Consumers Use Digital Health Tools But Still Struggle with Health Literacy

While more U.S. patients are use digital health tools and take on more clinical and financial decision making for their health care, people also have gaps in health engagement and health literacy. Three studies published in early October 2017 provide insights into the state of healthcare consumerism in America. The 2017 UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey found that a plurality of Americans (45%) turn first to primary care providers (doctors or nurses) as their source for the first source of information about specific health symptoms, conditions or diseases. 28% of people also use the internet or mobile health apps as their

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The Rx is UX: A Prescription for EHRs and Patient Engagement

It’s National Health IT Week (#NHIT Week), and I’m revisiting research published earlier this year to connect the dots between EHR implementation (good news: it’s nearly universal in doctors’ offices and hospitals) and patients embracing their health information (not-so-much). What’s missing: UX design and respect for peoples’ life-flows.  Most physician practices and hospitals in the U.S. have installed electronic health records (EHRs). But in a classic Field of Dreams scenario, we have made patients’ medical records digital, but people aren’t asking for them or accessing them en masse. “How do we make it easier for patients to request and manage their

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The Patient Is The Vector: Health 2.0 – Day 2 Learnings

  Question: “What is the opposite of ‘patient-centered care?'” asked a panelist on Day 1 of the 11th Annual Health 2.0 Conference. Answer: “‘Physician-centered care.'” Even physicians today see the merits of patient engagement, as this survey from New England Journal of Medicine found earlier this year. Since the launch of the first Health 2.0 Conference in 2007, the patient has played a growing role in session content and, increasingly, on the big stage and panel breakout sessions. A panel I attended on Day 2 convened five developers of patient engagement platforms and digital tools to help healthcare look and

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Leveraging the Essential Data of Life: Health 2.0 – Day 1 Learnings

The future of effective and efficient healthcare will be underpinned by artful combinations of both digital technologies and “analog humans,” if the first day of the Health 2.0 Conference is a good predictor. Big thoughts about a decentralized future in healthcare kicked off Day 1 of the 11th annual Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA. The co-founders of Health 2.0 (H20), Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, explained the five drivers of the tech-enabled health future. 1. The new interoperability, underpinned by FHIR standards and blockchain. “FHIR” stands for fast healthcare interoperability resources, which are informatics standards that enable data

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The Patient As Payor – Americans Bundle Financial Wellness and Healthcare Costs

Healthcare and the economy tied for US voters’ top issue last week, as the prospects for repealing the Affordable Care Act faded by the weekend. This Morning Consult poll was published 28th September 2017, as it became clear that the Graham-Cassidy health reform bill would lose at least three key votes the legislation needed for passage: from Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and John McCain. Liz Hamel, who directs the Kaiser Family Foundation’s survey research, told Morning Consult that, “when people say ‘health care,’ they often are actually talking about the economic issue of health care.”          

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To Meet Health Consumers’ Digital Demands, Think Netflix and Verizon

  Health consumers have become savvy about the role of technology in their healthcare, according to a survey from Ambra, a company that is in the health cloud business. The survey paints a picture of health consumers hungry for digital health connections. The most popular activities patients do online for health were: To research symptoms and treatments To renew and/or fill prescriptions To view lab reports To make appointments To pay medical bills To correspond with the nurse or doctor To view imaging reports To get virtual care, and, To participate in patient communities. To meet patients where they want

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The Mainstreaming of Wellness

“Wellness is a way to cope with the demands and rigors of new modern lifestyles,” according to Ogilvy in their latest report, The Wellness Movement Pioneers: New Global Research Findings. The report makes the case that the mass public are project-managing life adopting mental health, nutrition, physical activity and sleep to boost personal wellness. There is a big business model underneath this, which has inspired Ogilvy to start up the company’s Health & Wellness Practice. Think of this report as the group’s own business case to address the $3.7 trillion global wellness economy, illustrated by the first image. The report

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Out-Of-Pocket Healthcare Costs Grow in the Family Budget

For each dollar spent on healthcare in the United States, families paid 28 cents, according to the U.S. National Health Expenditure Accounts for 2015. Welcome to the new era of Americans and medical banking, with new insights provided by the largest of banks, JP Morgan Chase, in Paying Out-of-Pocket: The Healthcare Spending of 2 Million U.S. Families, from JP Morgan Chase. Chase is the largest bank in America based on its assets. They’ve mined 2.3 million de-identified records of Chase consumers in their banking network to learn about customers’ healthcare spending. These data represent spending between 2013 and 2016, detailed

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Envisioning Healthcare Innovation and Value with Microsoft

Fast Company’s October 2017 issue leads with a cover story featuring Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, with the title, “Microsoft Rewrites the Code.” The issue of Fast.Co is devoted to the theme of innovation by design, and the 8-page story on the company emphasizes the themes of empathy and collaboration in re-imagining the organization. I lead with this because I’m now in Orlando preparing to participate in Microsoft’s annual meeting called Envision. This conference brings together the company’s clients from around the world, representing major industry segments. I’m grateful to be invited to participate in the first of six sessions devoted

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2017 Rx Cost Trend Over 5 Times U.S. Inflation, Segal Projects

Driven by price increases, costs for the prescription drug benefit carve-out will increase 11.6% this year, based on Segal Consulting’s survey report, High Rx Cost Trends Projected to Be Lower for 2018, published today. The report is accessible on the Segal Co. website. While the Segal team expects prescription drug (Rx) benefit plan cost trends to be “less severe” in 2018, Rx cost increases is a top priority for many sponsors of health plans as their rate of increase far exceeds those for inpatient hospital claims or physician expense. Drug costs continue to be the fastest-growing line item in health

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Prescription Drug Coverage at Work: Common, Complex, and Costly

Getting health insurance at work means also having prescription drug coverage; 99% of covered workers’ companies cover drugs, based on the 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). I covered the top-line of this important annual report in yesterday’s Health Populi post, which found that the health insurance premium for a family of four covered in the workplace has reached $18,764 — approaching the price of a new 2017 small car according to the Kelley Blue Book. The complexities of prescription drug plans have proliferated, since KFF began monitoring the drug portion of health benefits

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Employees Continue To Pick Up More Health Insurance Costs, Even As Their Growth Slows

The average cost of an employer=sponsored health plan for a family reached $18,764 in 2017. While this premium grew overall by a historically relative low of 3.4%, employees covered under that plan faced an increase of 8.3% over what their plan share cost them in 2016, according to the 2017 Employer Health Benefit Survey published today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. [Here’s a link to the 2016 KFF report, which provided the baseline for this 8.3% calculation]. Average family premiums at the workplace rose 19% since 2012, a slowdown from the two previous five-year periods — 30% between 2007 and 2012, and

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Patients Are Looking to Finance Healthcare Over Time

Most U.S. patients want healthcare providers to offer cost information before a procedure, and whether doctors offer financial options to help them extend payments over time. This is an automotive or home appliance procedure we’re talking about. It’s healthcare services, and American patients are now the third largest payors to providers in the nation. Thus, the title of a new report summarizing a consumer survey from HealthFirst notes, “It’s Never Too Soon to Communicate Pricing and Payment Options. The study found that two-thirds of U.S. consumers would like healthcare providers to discuss financing options; however, only 18 percent of providers have

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How We Live and Die in 2017: Obesity, Conflict and Mental Illness

Obesity, conflict, and mental illness contribute most to the ill health and mortality of the world’s population – especially in the U.S., according to the annual Global Burden of Disease study published this month in The Lancet and funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There’s good news and bad news in this research: on the upside, people are living longer. On the downside, there’s a lot of morbidity – that is, sub-optimal health – in those years. The study examines both YLLs (years of life lost) and YLDs (years lived with disability). “Death is a powerful motivator, both

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Healthcare Overtreatment in the U.S. – Risky and Costly

Overtreatment is a major contributor to waste and patient risk in America. Most U.S. physicians say it’s a common fact of life in American healthcare, gleaned through physician survey detailed in Overtreatment in the United States, published in PLOS One on September 6, 2017. The overwhelming majority (8 in 10 physicians) identified malpractice as the reason for overtreatment, followed by patient pressure/request (59%). Other reasons cited for overtreatment included: Difficulty accessing prior medical records Borderline indications Inadequate time to spend with patients, and Lack of adequate information or previous medical history. Overall, physicians judged 20% of healthcare to fall into

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Americans and Prescription Drugs: Cost, Misuse, and Self-Rationing

In 2017, Americans’ relationship with prescription drugs can be characterized in three ways: cost-rationing, misuse, and abuse. Three new studies about medicines in America paint this picture, brought to light by the AARP, Truven Analytics, and Quest Diagnostics. First, let’s look at the cost issue covered by AARP. AARP tracks the cost of prescription drugs among its constituents, namely people 50 years of age and over. The data were published in AARP’s Rx Price Watch Report, Trends in Retail Prices of Specialty Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans, 2006-2015. The average annual cost for one specialty medication used for

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More Americans Consuming News Via Social Media Platforms in 2017 – Implications for Health

2 in 3 Americans get news via social media, according to News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017 from the Pew Research Center. One in 5 people get news “often” from social media, shown in the first chart. The growth of people accessing news via social media, overall, hasn’t dramatically grown in the year since 2016. But underneath that fairly flat trend is some important movement to note by demographic cohort, which has implications for health/healthcare marketing: 55% of people 50 and over are social media news consumers (8 in 10 people under 50 are) Nonwhites are more likely than whites

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The Family That Eats Dinner Together Gets Healthy Together

When a family eats together, they eat more nutritiously, A family that shares 3 or more meals together each week has a 24% greater consumption of nutritious food. Yet only one-half of families in the U.S. with kids under 18 eat dinner together every night of the week, a Gallup poll found. It’s National Family Meals Month. Eating together as a family is a social determinant of health, and the Food Marketing Institute dedicates the month of September to promote the old school concept of the “family meal.” Nutrition habits are built from early childhood. More kids are showing interest

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Decline in Pharmacy Reputations Related to Prescription Drug Prices, J.D. Power Finds

Cost is the number one driver among consumers declining satisfaction with pharmacies, J.D. Power found in its 2017 U.S. Pharmacy Study. Historically in J.D. Power’s studies into consumer perceptions of pharmacy, the retail segment has performed very well, However, in 2017, peoples’ concerns about drug prices negatively impact their views of the pharmacy — the front-line at the point-of-purchase for prescription drugs. In the past year, dissatisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies related to the cost of drugs and the in-store experience. For mail-order drugs, consumer dissatisfaction was driven by cost and the prescription ordering process. Among all pharmacy channels, supermarket drugstores

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Celebrating 10 Years of Health Populi, 10 Healthcare Milestones and Learnings

Happy anniversary to me…well, to the Health Populi blog! It’s ten years this week since I launched this site, to share my (then) 20 years of experience advising health care stakeholders in the U.S. and Europe at the convergence of health, economics, technology, and people. To celebrate the decade’s worth of 1,791 posts here on Health Populi (all written by me in my independent voice), I’ll offer ten health/care milestones that represent key themes covered from early September 2007 through to today… 1. Healthcare is one-fifth of the national U.S. economy, and the top worrisome line item in the American

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Transparency in Drug Prices, from OTC to Oncology

While on vacation in Bermuda, I found a box of private label ibuprofen for $2.45 for 20 – 200mg tablets, and one for Advil PM for $10.50 for the same number of pills, same strength. I’ve just returned from a lovely week’s holiday. When I travel, whether for work or vacation, it’s always a sort of Busman’s Holiday for me as I love to seek out health destinations wherever I go. So it was natural for me to spot the Dockyard Pharmacy at the port in Hamilton and wander in. I made my way back to the well-stocked pharmacy counter,

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Health on the High Seas – Mandara Spa on the NCL Breakaway

“Health is very addictive,” Michaela Deeley told me. “The way you feel once you start to feel good… you don’t want to stop.” Michaela is the manager at the Mandara Spa on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship, the Breakaway, which sails weekly from New York City to Bermuda. I appreciated the opportunity to interview Michaela about how medical tourism is a growth business for the cruise industry, and a welcome on-ramp to health and wellness for passengers. “Health on a cruise ship?” you ask. In fact, this area of the146,000 ton ship [which accommodates 3,963 passengers and 1,657 crew is

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A Lesson in Healthcare Data Distrust, Brought to Us By Aetna

The importance of trust in healthcare cannot be overestimated. Trust underpins peoples’ health engagement. Trust eroded repels people from seeking necessary health care services. So what do we make of Aetna’s appalling breach of patient privacy when the health insurer, whose 23 million members sign HIPAA agreements, sent a letter to some 12,000 members who are managing HIV….and the envelope in which these letters were mailed had a glassine window that exhibited the advisory showing the words, “The purpose of this letter is to advise you of the options…Aetna health plan when filling prescriptions for HIV Medic….members can use a

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Patients’ Healthcare Payment Problems Are Providers’, Too

Three-quarters of patients’ decisions on whether to seek services from healthcare providers are impacted by high deductible health plans. This impacts the finances of both patients and providers: 56% of patients’ payments to healthcare providers are delayed some of the time, noted in Optimizing Revenue: Solving Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Challenges Using Technology Enabled Communications, published today by West. Underneath that 56% of patients delaying payments, 12% say they “always delay” payment, and 16% say they “frequently delay” payment. West engaged Kelton Global to survey 1,010 U.S. adults 18 and over along with 236 healthcare providers to gauge their experiences with

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A Couple Retiring Today Will Need $275,000 For Health Care Expenses

A 65-year-old couple in America, retiring in 2017, will need to have saved $275,000 to cover their health and medical costs in retirement. This represents a $15,000 (5.8%) increase from last year’s number of $260,000, according to the annual retirement healthcare cost study from Fidelity Investments. This number does not include long-term care costs — only medical and health care spending. Here’s a link to my take on last year’s Fidelity healthcare retirement cost study: Health Care Costs in Retirement Will Run $260K If You’re Retiring This Year. Note that the 2016 cost was also $15,000 greater than the retirement healthcare costs calculated

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Women’s Access to Health Care Improved Under the Affordable Care Act

    The Affordable Care Act (ACT) was implemented in 2010. Since the inception of the ACA, the proportion of uninsured women in the U.S. fell by nearly one-half, from 19 million in 2010 to 11 million in 2016. The Commonwealth Fund has documented the healthcare gains that American women made since the ACA launch in their issue brief, How the Affordable Care Act Has Helped Women Gain Insurance and Improved Their Ability to Get Health Care, published earlier this month. The first chart talks about insurance: health care plan coverage, which is the prime raison d’être of the ACA. It’s

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Loneliness and Isolation Kill: Health Depends on Purpose

In the U.S., one-third of people age 65 and over have difficulty walking 3 city blocks. Hold that thought, and consider the role of purpose in life: purpose drives well-being, inoculating one’s life with meaning, direction, and goals, as the On Purpose guru Victor Strecher explains in his amazing graphic manifesto. Having a higher sense of purpose in life is associated with higher probability of people engaging in healthier behaviors, such as greater physical activity and seeking preventive healthcare; better biological functioning; and, lower risk of disease. Four researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health connected the dots between

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Healthcare Quality and Access Disparities Persist in the U.S.

  In 2015, poor and low-income people in America had worse health care than high-income households; care for nearly half of the middle-class was also worse than for wealthier families.   Welcome to the 2016 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The report assesses many measures quantifying peoples’ access to health care, such as uninsurance rates (which improved between 2010 and 2016), and quality of health care — including person-centered care, patient safety, healthy living, effective treatment, care coordination, and care affordability. While some disparities lessened between 2000 and 2015, disparities

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The Digital Gap in Health Consumer/Patient Experience

9 in 10 hospitals and health systems prioritize improving the consumer/patient experience, but only 30% of providers are building these capabilities. This consumer experience gap was found by Kaufman Hall in their survey research published in the report, 2017 State of Consumerism in Healthcare: Slow Progress in Fast Times. Digital health innovations will play big roles in supporting that consumer health experience for most health providers: 58% prioritize offering digital tool and information for consumer engagement, and 56% of providers look to develop a range of virtual/telehealth access points. But it appears that while healthcare providers’ spirits are willing, their flesh

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Most Americans, Including Republicans, Want President Trump’s Administration to Make the ACA Work – Not Fail

8 in 10 Americans want President Trump and his administration to do what they can to make the Affordable Care Act work, according to the latest August 2017 health tracking poll from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). By political party affiliation, this includes 95% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 52% of Republicans (that is, to emphasize the point, just over half, a majority, of Republicans). More Americans are also relieved and happy, versus disappointed and angry, that the ACA repeal did not occur (thus far), the second chart illustrates. To be sure, a majority of Republicans register anger and disappointment,

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Cost and Personalization Are Key For Health Consumers Who Shop for Health Plans

        Between 2012 and 2017, the number of US consumers who shopped online for health insurance grew by three times, from 14% to 42%, according to a survey from Connecture. Cost first, then “keeping my doctor,” are the two top considerations when shopping for health insurance. 71% of consumers would consider switching their doctor(s) to save on plan costs. Beyond clinician cost, health plans shoppers are also concerned with prescription drug costs in supporting their decisions. 80% of consumers would be willing to talk with their doctors about prescription drug alternatives, looking for a balance between convenience

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Employer Health Benefits Stable In the Midst of Uncertain Health Politics

As we look for signs of stability in U.S. health care, there’s one stakeholder that’s holding firm: employers providing healthcare benefits. Two studies out this week demonstrate companies’ commitment to sponsoring health insurance benefits….with continued tweaks to benefit design that nudges workers toward healthier behaviors, lower cost-settings, and greater cost-sharing. As Julie Stone, senior benefits consultant with Willis Towers Watson (WLTW), noted, “The extent of uncertainty in Washington has made people reluctant to make changes to their benefit programs without knowing what’s happening. They’re taking a wait-and-see attitude.” First, the Willis Towers Watson 22nd annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer

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Price-Shopping for Healthcare Still A Heavy Lift for Consumers

Most U.S. consumers support the idea of price-shopping for healthcare, but don’t practice it. While patients “should” shop for health care and perceive differences in costs across providers, few seek information about their personal out-of-pocket costs before getting treatment. Few Americans shop around for health care, even when insured under a high-deductible health plan, conclude Ateev Mehrotra and colleagues in their research paper, Americans Support Price Shopping For Health Care, But Few Actually Seek Out Price Information. The article is published in Health Affairs‘ August 2017 issue. The bar chart shows some of the survey results, with the top-line finding

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Patients Want Doctors To Know How Much Their Drugs Cost

  Patients want their doctors to know what their personal costs for medicines are; 42% of patients also believe their doctor is aware of how much they spend on prescription drugs. However, 61% of these people have not talked with doctors about drug prices. Nor do most doctors have access to this kind of information at the individual patient level. One important tactic to addressing overall healthcare costs, and managing the prescription drug line item in those costs, is discussed in Doctors and Pharmacists: An Underused Resource to Manage Drug Costs for Older Adults, a report on a survey sponsored

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Learning From Adam Niskar – Living Beyond The Wheelchair

After diving into Walnut Lake in suburban Detroit, Adam Niskar sustained a spinal injury that would paralyze much of his body for the rest of his life. The trauma didn’t paralyze his life and living, though. But today, my family will celebrate that life at Adam’s memorial service. Adam was my cousin. He was one of the best-loved people on the planet, and that was part of a therapeutic recipe that sustained him from the traumatic accident in 1999 until Monday, July 31st, 2017, when Adam passed away from complications due to an infection that, this time around, his body

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Health Equity Lessons from July 23, 1967, Detroit

On July 23, 1967, I was a little girl wearing a pretty dress, attending my cousin’s wedding at a swanky hotel in mid-town Detroit. Driving home with my parents and sisters after the wedding, the radio news channel warned us of the blazing fires that were burning in a part of the city not far from where we were on a highway leading out to the suburbs. Fifty years and five days later, I am addressing the subject of health equity at a speech over breakfast at the American Hospital Association 25th Annual Health Leadership Summit today. In my talk,

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Fix the ACA, Most Americans Say

  61% of Americans hold negative views of repealing-and-replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to the July 2017 Health Tracking Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This month’s survey focused on Americans’ views on Republican legislative efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As of the writing of this post, the majority of the Senate rejected the full repeal of the ACA, but the situation is very fluid. Note that this poll was conducted by phone between July 5-10, 2017, among 1,183 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The column chart here illustrates that the proportion of people

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Weaving Accenture’s Five Digital Health Technology Trends for 2017

Technology should serve people, and Accenture has identified five major key trends that, together, could forge a person-centered, -friendly, -empowering healthcare system. This is Accenture’s Digital Health Technology Vision for 2017. “Should” and “could” are the important adverbs here, because if tech doesn’t deliver, driving efficiency and effectiveness, personalizing medical treatments, and inspiring people to become more health literate and health-engaging, then tech is just a Field of Dreams being built and available, with no people taking advantage of the potential benefits. The five new-new tech trends are: AI is the new UI, where healthcare experience is everything Ecosystem power

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Note to Mooch: The ER is Not Universal Health Care

I quote directly from the Twitter feed of Anthony Scaramucci, @scaramucci: “@dhank2525 agree. We already have Univ Health Care, we made decision long ago to treat everyone that enters an emergency room.” Mr. Scaramucci is President Trump’s Communications Chief, replacing Sean Spicer. Mr. Scaramucci is neither veteran journalist nor healthcare policy wonk. He’s a successful businessman, which I respect for his savvy and ability to build a fund, attract investors, and create a media persona which he has telegenically broadcast on CNBC and elsewhere over the past decade. He’s got a engaging public personality, and goes by the moniker, “Mooch.” But

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Pharmacies Morph Into Primary Care Health Destinations

The business and mission of pharmacies are being re-shaped by several major market forces, most impactful being uncertain health reform prospects at the Federal level — especially for Medicaid, which is a major payor for prescription drugs. Medicaid covered 14% of retail prescriptions dispensed in 2016, according to QuintilesIMS; Medicare accounted for 27% of retail prescriptions. “But if affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, responsiveness and choices are among the standards that will be applied to any future changes, pharmacy has strong legs to stand on,” Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said in the PoweRx Top 50

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Strengthening Chronic Care Is Both Personal and Financial for the Patient

  6 in 10 people diagnosed with a chronic condition do not feel they’re doing everything they can to manage their condition. At the same time, 67% of healthcare providers believe patients aren’t certain about their target health metrics. Three-quarters of physicians are only somewhat confident their patients are truly informed about their present state of health. Most people and their doctors are on the same page recognizing that patients lack confidence in managing their condition, but how to remedy this recognized challenge? The survey and report, Strengthening Chronic Care, offers some practical advice. This research was conducted by West

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Patients and “Their” Medical Records: Crossing the Chasm

Most physician practices and hospitals in the U.S. have installed electronic health records (EHRs). But in a classic Field of Dreams scenario, we have made patients’ medical records digital, but people aren’t asking for them or accessing them en masse. “How do we make it easier for patients to request and manage their own data?” asks a report from the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC), Improving the Health Records Request Process for Patients – Highlights from User Experience Research. The ONC has been responsible for implementing the HITECH Act’s provisions, ensuring that health care providers have met Meaningful

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Self-Pay Healthcare Up, Hospital Revenues Down

For every 4.2% increase in a hospital’s self-pay patient population, the institution’s revenues would fall by 2.8% in Medicaid expansion states. This is based on the combination of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and more consumers moving to high-deductible health plans. That sober metric was calculated by Crowe Horwath, published in its benchmarking report published today with a title warning that, Self-Pay Becomes Ground Zero for Hospital Margins. The “ground zero” for the average U.S. hospital is the convergence of a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which could increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million

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Is There Political Will for Healthcare Access in the US?

The Netherlands, France and Germany are the best places to be a patient, based on the Global Access to Healthcare Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Throughout the world, nations wrestle with how to provide healthcare to health citizens, in the context of stretched government budgets and demand for innovative and accessible services. The Global Access to Healthcare Index gauges countries’ healthcare systems in light of peoples’ ability to access services, detailed in Global Access to Healthcare: Building Sustainable Health Systems. The United States comes up 10th in line (tied with Spain) in this analysis. Countries that score the

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The Art of Emojis in Constipation-Conversation

“Constipation is hard. Talking about it is even harder,” reads a card I received from the senior director of marketing at Synergy Pharmaceuticals. Emojis-meet-direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical promotion in a new campaign from the drug company, which is embarking on a disease education campaign to bring greater awareness to the condition of chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This condition impacts 14% of the global population. The messengers for this effort are a cast of emojis who populate a continuum from constipation-to-diarrhea and every poop step in-between. Meet The Poop Troop: Stressed-Out Stooly Clogged Chris Left-Out Lumpy Plugged-Up Paulie Miss La Poop Mr. Smooth Sausage Sally

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The Pursuit of Health Equity and the State of U.S. Health Care

Between 2014 and 2015, death rates increased for eight of the ten leading causes; only death rates caused by cancer fell, and mortality rates for influenza and pneumonia stayed flat. The first chart paints this sobering portrait of Americans’ health outcomes, presented in the CDC’s data-rich 488-page primer, Health, United States, 2016. Think of this publication as America’s annual report on health. Every year, it is prepared and submitted to the President and Congress by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. This year’s report was delivered by DHHS Secretary Tom Price to President Trump and the

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Patients Switch Doctors Based on Service, Not Just Care or Costs – Think “Text”

There’s more evidence of shopping behavior among patients: there’s new data showing that patients-as-consumers switch healthcare providers not due to quality of care or costs, but because of lack of service. I discovered one key verb and feature patient-consumers expect from doctors: it’s the ability to text, for appointment reminders, alerts, treatments, and communicating with the practice. SolutionReach, in the business of patient engagement, conducted a survey among 500 consumers asking about primary care providers, communication experience and satisfaction levels. The company presented the research results in a webinar on 29 June 2017. The research was also written up in

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Costs of Healthcare Top Americans’ Financial Concerns: It’s Financial Health Matters Day

Americans are most worried about healthcare costs among all financial concerns; most people in the U.S. also believe the Federal government should ensure that all people have health coverage. Two polls published in the past week point to the fact that most U.S. health citizens are concerned about health care for themselves and their families, driving a growing proportion of people to favor a single-payer health system. The first line chart illustrates a dramatic trajectory up of the number of American identifying healthcare costs as their #1 financial problem, rising from 10% of people in 2013 to 17% in 2017.

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Artificial Intelligence, AI, Is Becoming the New Operating System in Health – Accenture

Artificial Intelligence, AI, can help drive the Triple Aim in healthcare, reducing cost, improving quality, and expanding access, according to Artificial Intelligence: Healthcare’s New Nervous System from Accenture. Acquisitions of AI developers in health will be fast-paced, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 40% – “explosive” in the word of Accenture – moving from $600 mm in 2014 to $6.6 billion in 2021. What these AI startups will do is to enable machines to sense, comprehend, act and learn, Accenture foresees, to augment administrative and clinical tasks which could free up healthcare labor (say, doctors, other clinicians, and accountants)

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Shopping Food for Health: the 2017 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends

Wellness is at the grocery store, the vast majority of U.S. health citizens say. 8 in 10 U.S. shoppers are concerned about the nutritional content in the food they eat. As grocery shoppers look for more fresh and less processed foods, grocery stores are seen as trusted allies for meeting wellness needs. Grocers are coupling the growth of more healthy packaged foods in the middle of the store with more fresh and prepared food options that consumers see as healthier than restaurant meals, according to U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2017 from FMI (the Food Marketing Institute) and Hartman Group. While

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Global Drug Sales Forecasts Fall For Next Five Years

Total prescription drug sales have been trimmed, based on calculations of EvaluatePharma which forecasts a $390 bn drop in revenues between 2017 and 2022. “Political and public scrutiny over pricing of both new and old drugs is not going to go away,” EvaluatePharma called out in its report. The intense scrutiny on pharma industry pricing was fostered by Martin Shkreli in his pricing of Daraprim (taking a $13.50 product raising the price to $750), Harvoni and Sovaldi pricing for Hepatitis C therapies, and last year’s EpiPen pricing uproar. A May 2017 analysis of prescription drug costs by AARP judges that, “Nothing

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Consumer Experience Is An Integral Part of the Healthcare Experience

Patient satisfaction should be baked into healthcare provider service goals, according to Prioritizing the Patient Experience from West Corporation, the communications company. West is in the business of improving communications systems, and has a vested interest in expanding comms in health. This research polled patients and providers to assess how each healthcare stakeholder perceives various patient satisfaction issues, which when done well are grounded in sound communications strategy and technologies. Patient satisfaction is directly linked to the bottom lines of healthcare organizations, West contends, due to two key drivers: Evolving payment models are increasingly tying patient satisfaction to reimbursements; and,

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Pharmacy and Outpatient Costs Will Take A Larger Portion of Health Spending in 2018

Health care costs will trend upward by 6.5% in 2018 according to the forecast, Medical Cost Trends: Behind the Numbers 2018, from PwC’s Health Research Institute. The expected increase of 6.5% is a half-percentage point up from the 2017 rate of 6.0%, which is 8% higher than last year’s rate matching that of 2014. PwC’s Health Research Institute has tracked medical cost trends since 2007, as the line chart illustrates, when trend was nearly double at nearly 12%. The research consider medical prices, health care services and goods utilization, and a PwC employer benefit cost index for the U.S. The key

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Helping People On A Path to Better Health with CVS @Retail

“Helping people on their path to better health” is the mission-mantra of CVS Health. Re-branded from its previous identity as CVS/pharmacy, the organization convened a Health Innovation Summit with its vendor partners whose products fill the front-of-store shelves to empower, inspire and support consumers to manage health and wellness for themselves and their families. I was grateful for the opportunity to provide the first talk for the day, setting the context for the evolving retail health/care landscape with the consumer at the center. The consumer is, at any point in a 24-hour day: a person wearing many hats (a worker,

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Healthcare Cost Concerns Trump All Others Across the Generations

Patients, evolving into health consumers, seek a better healthcare experience. While most people are pretty satisfied with their medical care, cost and confusion reign. This is the topline finding of a study from Oliver Wyman appropriately titled, Complexity and Opportunity, a survey of U.S. health consumers’ worries and wants. Oliver Wyman collaborated on the research with the FORTUNE Knowledge Group. Consumers’ biggest healthcare concerns deal with costs: rising insurance premiums; greater out-of-pocket costs for care not covered by insurance; and, the growing costs of prescription drugs together rank as the top 3 healthcare concerns in this study. After costs, consumers cite government

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U.S. Consumers Expect, But Don’t See, Innovation From the Health & Wellness Industry

U.S. consumers consider Consumer Electronics to be the most innovative industry they know. But people believe that Health & Wellness should be the most innovative sector in the economy. Welcome to the 2017 Klick Health Consumer Survey, which focuses on health innovation in the context of peoples’ hopes for technology to improve health and healthcare. 1 in 2 people say that technology has had a positive impact on their health and wellness, skewing slightly more toward younger people (although 45% of people 55 years of age and older agree that tech positively contributes to health. 41% of consumers say they’ve

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From Hospitality to Health-pitality to Sportspitality

“Stay well, even on the road,” welcomes the chain of EVEN Hotels. That message from a hospitality company is part of the growth of the retail health landscape, driven by consumers’ desire to live well and make healthy decisions every day – even during business trips. The message is that, “Wellness is more than a word. It’s your way of life. But when it’s time to travel, it all falls apart,” Who among us road warriors for work doesn’t get that message? This is a real trend that engaged health consumers have begun to demand. A friend of mine traveled this week

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Amazon’s Health Care Building Blocks

In the past few weeks, two announcements from Amazon point to a strategy, whether intended or my dot-connecting, that the ecommerce leader has the health of its customers in its sights. In late May, CNBC first published the news that Amazon was seeking out a candidate to be a general manager for a pharmacy business. Here’s the video telling the story. Getting into the retail pharmacy channel is in itself a huge message to this health industry segment, which is very competitive between chain pharmacies (led by CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid), grocery pharmacies (the largest of which are Kroger and

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12% of Americans Have At Least 5 Chronic Conditions and Spend 41% of Healthcare Dollars

Forget about the 80/20 Rule. Welcome to the 41/12 Metric: 12% of U.S. adults account for 41% of healthcare spending in America, calculated by RAND Corporation in their new report, Multiple Chronic Conditions in the United States. RAND’s report quantifies the growing chronic care landscape in America that will be a burdensome legacy for younger Americans in terms of financial and social costs. First, a definition: RAND defines a chronic condition as a physical or mental health issue that lasts more than one year and causes functional restrictions or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment. Older adults are more likely to

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Digital Healthcare At the Inflection Point, Via Mary Meeker

Healthcare is at a digital inflection point, asserts   Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference, by the iconic Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins. Published May 31, 2017, few tech-focused reports have the gravitas or generate the readership that this report does. I’m one of Meeker’s perennial readers, covering this report through my health/care lens here on Health Populi for several years (links to previous posts below). Of the report’s 355 pages, 22 are devoted to healthcare (pages 288-319), a section curated by Noah Kaufman of KP. This section of the report assembles data from a range of publicly available sources,

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Across Party Lines, Few Americans Believe the AHCA Keeps President Trump’s Healthcare Promises

Only 14% of U.S. adults think that the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) fulfills all or most of President Trump’s campaign promises on health care, according to the May 2017 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, released today. But political party lines surface when people area asked, overall, “given what you know about this proposed new health care plan, do you have a generally favorite or unfavorable opinion of it?” 55% of U.S. adults have an unfavorable view of the AHCA; however, the split across parties is quite clear: 84% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of the AHCA 57% of Independents ahve

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As High Deductible Health Plans Grow, So Does Health Consumers’ Cost-Consciousness

A person enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan is more likely to be cost-conscious than someone with traditional health insurance. Cost-consciousness behaviors including checking whether a plan covers care, asking for generic drugs versus a brand name pharmaceutical, and using online cost-tracking tools provided by health plans, according to the report, Consumer Engagement in Health Care: Findings from the 2016 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey from EBRI, the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A high deductible is correlated with more engaged health plan members, EBRI believes based on the data. One example: more than one-half of people enrolled

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A New Health Risk: Hacked Personal Medical Devices

We have entered an era of insecurity in healthcare in America. While major attention is being paid to healthcare insurance and service insecurity, food insecurity and financial insecurity, there’s another one to add to this list: medical device security. As more medical devices have moved into the digital internet-connected mode, the risk for malware, ransomware, and overall hack-ability grows. This increasing and challenging risk is covered in the report, Medical Device Security: An Industry Under Attack and Unprepared to Defend from Ponemon Institute. Ponemon Institute has been tracking information security across industries, including healthcare, for several years. In this survey, sponsored

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How To Pay For A Serious Medical Illness Tops Americans’ Fiscal Fears

While Americans’ financial worries are softening in 2017, one issue tops the list of fiscal fears: not having enough money to pay the costs involved in a serious illness or accident, Gallup found in a consumer poll fielded in early April 2017. 54% of Americans fear an inability to cover healthcare costs in the event of an accident or serious illness. This percentage was 60% in 2016, and 55% in 2015. This year’s data point ties with Americans financial worry about not having enough money for retirement, but healthcare cost concerns rank higher in terms of being “very worried” versus

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The Consumer Trust Deficit In Health Engagement

While trust in major institutions is eroding the world over, peoples’ trust in healthcare is on the rise, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. Still, compared to other industry sectors, healthcare is still barely positive — and just one spot ahead of financial services. When it comes to trust, “the healthcare industry is making slow but steady progress,” notes Kym White who leads Edelman’s healthcare practices. Consumers’ trust in the five healthcare segments of pharmaceutical/drug companies, consumer health/over the counter, biotech/life sciences, insurance and hospitals/clinics is improving over 2016. In the U.S., for pharma and biotech, trust is reversing a

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The Mental Health Risks of Social Media for Young People

As addictions go, social media can be more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol, according to a report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), #StatusOfMind, on social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. With 91% of people age 16-24 using the internet for social networking, that addiction connects to rising levels of anxiety and depression, the Royal Society asserts, recommending some calls to action to address this public health problem head-on. While this report focuses on the population in the United Kingdom (UK), the social media trends are at least as prominent in the US. The calls

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Expecting Alexa and Roomba for Health: Emerging AI and Robotics Trends for Healthcare via PwC

“What doctor?” asks the title of a PwC report on the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in healthcare. AI and robot technology are penetrating all aspects of the macroeconomy, and they’ve begun to re-shape the health economy, as well. Underneath PwC’s titular question are two lenses: the role of the AI/robot doctor vis-a-vis the role of the human doctor. PwC identifies eight areas that AI and robotics will impact in healthcare, shown in the first diagram: Decision making Diagnosis Early detection End of life care Keeping well Research Training, and Treatment. For keeping well, AI and robotics can

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Healthcare Costs for a Family of Four Will Reach $27,000 in 2017

If you had $27,000 in your wallet, would you spend it on a 2017 Kia Optima sedan, 28 shares of Amazon stock, or healthcare? $26,944 is this year’s estimate of what healthcare will cost a family of four in the U.S., based on the 2017 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). This is based on the projected total costs of healthcare for a family covered by an employer-sponsored PPO plan. Milliman, the actuarial consulting firm, has conducted the MMI going back to 2001. I’ve watched the rise and rise of this index for years, explained annually in the Health Populi blog since its inception

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The Internet of Health Things Can Deliver High Value for Consumers and Patients

Did you know that the Echo Dot was the top-selling gift on Amazon in the 2016 holiday shopping season? The family of Amazon’s Alexa devices was the most popular product across all categories on the ecommerce site. As patients morph into health consumers, and consumers buy into wearable technologies and smart home devices through the growing Internet of Things (IoT), the home is becoming the new medical home. Most healthcare leaders believe that the Internet of Health Things (IoHT) will disruptive the healthcare industry within three years, noted in the Accenture 2017 Internet of Health Things Survey. But only one-half

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Shopping Food for Health is Mainstream, But Nutrition Confusion is Super-Sized

Americans are overwhelmingly keen to use food for their health, and overwhelmed by the amount of nutrition information they face to make good shopping and eating decisions. Welcome to “food confusion,” a phenomenon gleaned from the 12th Annual Food and Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC). This 12th annual survey from IFIC finds that most Americans take many steps to be healthy. In the past year, the most popular health-steps include drinking more for hydration, making small changes to achieve a healthier diet, consuming smaller portions, eating more fruits and vegetables, and eating more whole grains.

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Americans Say Healthcare is the Nation’s #1 Problem – Tied with Dissatisfaction with Government

Healthcare tops the list of Americans’ concerns, tied with a dissatisfaction for government, this month (May 2017). According to a Gallup poll published 12 May, poor government leadership and healthcare are together the most important problem currently facing the U.S. Immigration, the economy, jobs, and race relations are distance 3rd places in this survey, which was conducted during the first week of May 2017 among 1,011 U.S. adults 18 years and older. The highest percent of Americans citing healthcare as America’s most important problem was 26%, found in August/September 2008 when town hall meetings round the country were protesting healthcare

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Building Digital Trust Is Now Part of Serving Up Healthcare

The most trusted stewards for protecting consumers’ health data are “my providers:” “my” physician (88%), “my” pharmacy (85%), and “my” hospital” (84%). according to the Accenture 2017 Consumer Survey on Healthcare Cybersecurity and Digital Trust. Who’s least-trusted? Government (56%) and tech companies (57%). Note, though, that most Americans (over 50%) trust these health data holders — it’s just that fewer people trust them than healthcare providers, who are top health information protectors in health consumers’ trust rosters. Accenture commissioned Nielsen to conduct this survey in November 2016 in seven countries. The results discussed here in Health Populi focus on the

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So Far, Food and Nutrition Aren’t Baked Into President Trump’s Health Policies

The FDA is delaying the public posting of calorie counts, a policy that President Obama’s administration had pioneered for public health and wellness. Menu labeling has applied to grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, movie theaters and sports stadiums that sell prepared food. “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the menu labeling requirements would be ‘unwise and unhelpful’ as currently written, and added that the FDA is looking for ways to make the rules ‘more flexible and less burdensome.'” Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama took on the issue of healthy food and fitness for America’s children. Except for keeping her White

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Home Is the New and Future Medical Home for Dialysis

The economics of kidney disease in America is a hefty burden: about 26 million people in the U.S. have some aspect of chronic kidney disease and are at-risk of kidney failure. The number of people diagnosed with kidney disease doubled during each of the last two decades, according to the American Society of Nephrology. The annual cost of treating end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is over $32 billion, consuming 28% of Medicare expenditures…and increasing. Now consider the personal costs of dialysis in America: about $500 for a single hemodialysis treatment in a center, roughly $72,000 a year for one patient. There

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Women and Children First? What the AHCA Holds for Vulnerable Populations

In accounting, there’s a rule with acronym “LIFO;” this stands for “last in, first out,” which requires taking account of the most recent cost of products being the first ones to be expensed on the ledger. I’m thinking about LIFO when it comes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which narrowly passed through Congress yesterday by 4 votes, with a final tally of 217 to 213. Why “LIFO?” Because long-uninsured folks who just recently received access to health insurance as an on-ramp to health care services could lose this benefit, just months after joining the ranks of the insured. Among

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Medicines in America: The Half-Trillion Dollar Line Item

Prescription drug spending in the U.S. grew nearly 6% in 2016, reaching $450 billion, according to the QuintilesIMS Institute report, Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S., published today. U.S. drug spending is forecasted to grow by 30% over the next 5 years to 2021, amounting to $610 billion. In 2016, per capita (per person) spending on medicines for U.S. health citizens averaged $895. Specialty drugs made up $384 of that total, equal to 43% of personal drug spending, shown in the first chart. Spending on specialty drugs continues to increase as a proportion of total drug spending: traditional medicines’ share

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Healthier Eating Is the Peoples’ Health Reform: the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index

The top healthiest eating communities tend to circle the perimeter of the map of the lower 48 U.S. states. In these towns, more than 72% of health citizens report healthy eating. These areas are located in California, Florida, and Massachusetts, among others. Areas with the lowest rates of healthy eating are concentrated generally south of the Mason-Dixon Line, in places like Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and other states. In these places, fewer than 57% of people eat healthy. Eating healthy foods in moderation is a mighty contributor to personal and public health, discussed in the report, State of American Well-Being

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Most Physicians Say Patients, Doctors and Hospitals Are All Losers Under Trump

“Overall, Council members express pessimism about the health are landscape in the wake of the Trump administration’s proposed plans, citing no clear winners, only losers: patients, clinicians, and provider organizations.” This is the summary of the Leadership Survey report, Anticipating the Trump Administration’s Impact on Health Care, developed by the New England Journal of Medicine‘s NEJM Group. The first chart illustrates the “biggest healthcare losers” finding, detailed on the bottom three bars of patients, clinicians, and provider organizations. The stakeholders that will fare best under a President Trump healthcare agenda would be drug companies, payers, and employers. The biggest loser

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The Power of Joy in Health and Medicine – Learning From Dr. Regina Benjamin

Former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin was the first person who quoted to me, “Health isn’t in the doctor’s office. It’s where people live, work, play and pray,” imparting that transformational mantra to me in her 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times. I wrote about that lightbulb moment here in Health Populi. Dr. Benjamin was the 18th Surgeon General, appointed by President Obama in 2009. As “America’s Doctor,” she served a four-year term, her mission focused on health disparities, prevention, rual health, and children’s health. Today, Dr. Benjamin wears many hats: she’s the Times Picayune/NOLA.com professor of medicine at

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Learning Health Behavior Change From the Guru Prochaska

For us mere humans, behavior change is hard. Changing health behaviors is really tough. Enter Dr. James Prochaska, who has been at the forefront of researching and understanding human and health behavior for several decades. He’s the father of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM). I have the honor today to listen live to Dr. Prochaska’s talk at the Health Integrated EMPOWER conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I’ll be addressing attendees on the new health consumer tomorrow. “Empower,” indeed. Dr. Prochaska is all about how people have good intentions to make good health decisions, but we all slip and

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Financial Stress As A Health Risk Factor Impacts More Americans

A family in Orange County, California, paid a brother’s 1982 hospital bill by selling 50 pieces of their newly-deceased mother’s jewelry. “It’s what she wanted,” the surviving son told a reporter from The Orange County Register. The cache of jewelry fetched enough to pay the $10,000 bill. Patients in the U.S. cobble together various strategies to pay for healthcare, as the first chart drawn from a Kaiser Family Foundation report on medical debt attests. As health care consumers, people cut back on household spending like vacations and household goods. Two-thirds of insured patients use up all or most of their savings

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Consumer Healthcare Reviews on Yelp Help

Just as consumers use TripAdvisor, Zagat, OpenTable, and their Facebook pages to review restaurants, hotels, automobiles, and financial services companies, many patients – now health consumers in earnest – have taken to reviewing healthcare services in social networks. Finding reliable, understandable information about healthcare quality and prices is very challenging for most consumers. Are healthcare reviews on social networks statistically valid? An analysis of consumer ratings for New York State hospitals on Yelp, the social network, were positively correlated to objective scores of hospital quality, according to the research published in Yelp for Health: Using the Wisdom of Crowds to

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Telehealth and Virtual Healthcare Are Mainstreaming

As the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association convenes this week in Orlando, there’s a lot of telehealth news to curate. The topline of it all: virtual healthcare is mainstreaming, with more providers, payors, and patients aligning in support of virtual health care delivery. Three-quarters of providers have some form of basic telemedicine or telehealth in place. One-third of healthcare providers use some flavor of virtual care technology in their workflow, according to research from KPMG and HIMSS Analytics summarized in the first graphic. KPMG sees virtual care options — remote patient monitoring, enhanced portals, and web interactions for patient-provider

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Health Care Costs Are A Top Worry for Americans Across Political Parties

Health care costs are out-of-reach for more Americans, among both people who have insurance through the workplace or via health insurance exchanges. The first chart illustrates the growing healthcare affordability challenge for American health consumers, discussed in a data note to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll in March 2017. In 2017, 43% of consumers found it difficult to meet the health care deductible before insurance would kick in 37% of consumers found it difficult to pay for the cost of health insurance each month 31% said it was difficult to pay for copayments for doctor visits and prescription drugs.

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Most Americans Favor Some Flavor Of National Health Care Plan

Most US adults favor some kind of national health care plan, based on an Economist/YouGov poll conducted in April 2017. Six in ten people are for expanding so-called “Medicare for All,” where the health plan that currently serves older Americans would extend to all U.S. health citizens. Six in ten people would also favor a Federally-funded health insurance system that would cover all Americans — that is, universal health care. The table details this poll question by political party identification and family income. At least 3 in 4 Democrats would be more likely to favor either of the two healthcare

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Diet, Surgery and Pharmacy – The Pillars of Healthcare for 500 Years

Healthcare was based on three pillars in 16th century Florence, Italy: diet, surgery, and pharmacy. Five centuries later, not much has changed in Italy or the U.S. But how healthcare gets funded and delivered in the context of these pillars significantly varies between the two countries, and impacts each nation’s health. To put this in context, visiting the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (the Medici’s Laurentian Library) today in Florence was a trip through medical-surgical history, starting in the second half of the 16th century. The design of this magnificent library’s foyer and reading room was initially conceived by Michelangelo. The reading room

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The Pharmacy as Herbalist – An Italian Prescription

CNN called it, “the ancient perfume store you never heard of,” but the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella had its literal roots in medicinal herbs. With scents wafting onto a 13th century Florence piazza, the Farmacia now operates as a pharmacy storefront for homeopathic and herbal supplements, along with perfumes and home scents. A visit to the pharmacy today is a journey into medicinal time-travel, back to the year 1221. I spent time in the pharmacy today to learn about the literal roots of the shop in medicinal herbs cultivated in a monastery garden and reformulated by monks into

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Slow Food As Medicine: Eating In Italian

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Valuing Children = Valuing Health: Learning From Florence, Italy

This week I celebrate two spring holy holidays in one city that embraces spirituality, civility, and culture: Florence, Italy. Today, I had the special opportunity to tour Ospedale degli Innocenti: the Hospital of the Innocents. The hospital is now an institute for studying the culture and economics of children, and a museum telling a unique story of Florentine babies born in the early 15th century, spanning our contemporary era. The founding and root history of this beautiful place has lessons to teach us even today. It is key to realize, first, that Florentine humanism exalted the ideal virtues of the

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Health Inequity in the United States – A View From Across the Pond

The statistics on the health of people living in America illustrate a divide between have’s and have-not’s. Average life expectancy is lower in the US compared with other wealthy nations: the wealthiest Americans live 10 to 15 years longer than the poorest, according to a landmark article in JAMA from 2016 studying the relationship between income inequality and mortality. See the first chart: this illustrates that people living in the US whose income reaches the top 95th percentile far outlive folks in the bottom 5th percentile of income. I find myself in London, England, this week, across the Pond (that is,

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Finding Health in Consumer Goods

People want to live healthier lives, and consumer good companies are responding to these demands to keep and gain market share and profit margins. Consumer product firms reformulated over 180,000 consumer products in 2016 for in response to consumers’ health and wellness wishes, based on data collected by Deloitte for The Consumer Goods Forum project (CGF) and published in The CGF Health & Wellness Progress Report. The CGF is an industry network of some 400 consumer goods, retail, and service companies supporting the global adoption of standards and practices. This Report focused on the CGF members’ progress toward health and wellness

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Connecting the Dots Between Population Health and the Local Economy

U.S. counties with better health have better performing economies. There’s a direct link between healthy people and a healthy economy, where healthier regions enjoy lower unemployment and higher incomes, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index. When compared to counties with a median BCBS Health Index score, counties within the top 10 percent had: A per capita income that’s $3,700 higher than the median 10-year economic growth that’s 3.5% higher An unemployment rate half a point lower. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) worked with Moody’s Analytics (part of the Moody’s financial services company) on this second edition of this

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Health Insurance Plans Rank Lowest In Consumer Experience

Consumers love their supermarkets, fast food shops, retailers, delivery services, and banks. These industries rank highest in the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings, my go-to source for understanding consumer service Nirvana. Health insurance companies and internet service providers (ISPs) are at the bottom of the Temkin Ratings, as shown in the first chart. Note that health plans range from a score approaching 70 to under 50, illustrating the very wide range of consumer experience from okay-to-good, too very poor. The top-ranked health plan was Kaiser Permanente, with a rating of 67%; Health Net was ranked the worst of the health plans

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A New Risk Factor For Mental Health: Climate Change

We make our health across many dimensions: via nutrition, safe physical/built environments, financial wellness, education, and the environment among them. In this last category, the environment, new research finds that climate change has a significant impact on health. The report, Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, was sponsored by the American Psychological Association in conjunction with Climate for Health and ecoAmerica. “Climate change-induced severe weather and other natural disasters have the most immediate effects on mental health in the form of the trauma and shock due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to

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Pharma Industry Reputation Declines Second Year In A Row

U.S. consumers love technology, retail, and consumer products; automotive company reputations are improving, even with Volkswagen’s emission scandal potentially tarnishing the industry segment. The only corporate sector whose reputation fell in 2016 was the pharmaceutical industry’s, according to the Harris Poll’s 2017 Reputation Quotient report. The line chart illustrates the decline of pharma’s reputation, which puts it on par with its consumer perceptions in 2010 — just before Medicare Part D was legislated and implemented, which improved pharma’s image among American health citizens (especially older patients who tend to be more frequent consumers of prescription drugs). Pharma’s reputation quotient is back

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