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Housing as Prescription for Health/Care – in Medecision Liberation

COVID-19 ushered in the era of our homes as safe havens for work, shopping, education, fitness-awaking, bread-baking, and health-making. In my latest essay written for Medecision, I weave together new and important data and evidence supporting the basic social determinant of health — shelter, housing, home — and some innovations supporting housing-as-medicine from CVS Health, UnitedHealth Group, AHIP, Brookings Institution, the Urban Land Institute, and other stakeholders learning how housing underpins our health — physical, mental, financial. Read about a wonderful development from Communidad Partners, working with the Veritas Impact Partners group, channeling telehealth to housing programs serving residents with

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The Rise of the Homebody Economy and Healthcare to the Home

As the coronavirus crisis stretched from weeks into months, now over one year since being defined as a pandemic, U.S. consumers have made significant investments into their homes for working, educating students, cooking, and working out. Welcome to the “rebalancing of the homebody economy,” in the words of McKinsey, out with new data on consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis. The continued penetration of vaccines-into-arms in the U.S. is fanning optimism in terms of household economics, personal spending — especially on experiences that get folks “out” of the house. Still, the Homebody Economy will persist even post-COVID, with a growing

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Stress in America, One Year into the Pandemic – an APA Update on Parents, Healthcare Workers, and Black Americans

A Year into our collective coronavirus experience, Americans remain stressed, with physical health taking a back seat to our daily grinds based on the 2021 Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA has been updating us on U.S.-stress for several years, and more frequently since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of 2020. In their latest report, APA updates their previous profiles of Americans’ stress looking into different demographic groups and coping mechanisms. The topline, across all adults living in America, is that one-half have delayed or cancelled health care services. One-half has

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How Young People Are Using Digital Tools to Help Deal with Mental Health

After a year of living with and “in” the coronavirus pandemic, younger people in the U.S. have had to deal with over twelve months of quarantine and lockdown, going to school remotely from home, and distancing from friends. For most young people, the public health crisis has been more about that social distancing from friends, a collective sense of isolation, and mental and behavioral health impacts. These dynamics and these young health citizens’ coping mechanisms are captured in the report, Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health. Three organizations collaborated to conduct and

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A BA Degree as Prescription for a Longer Life – Update on Deaths of Despair from Deaton and Case

“Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States,” according to an essay in PNAS, Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed by Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Case and Deaton have done extensive research on the phenomenon of Deaths of Despair, the growing epidemic of mortality among people due to accidents, drug overdoses, and suicide. Case and Deaton wrote the book on Deaths of Despair (detailed here in Health Populi),  Case and Deaton

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How to Restore Americans’ Confidence in U.S. Health Care: Deal With Access and Cost

With a vaccine supply proliferating in the U.S. and more health citizens getting their first jabs, there’s growing optimism in America looking to the next-normal by, perhaps, July 4th holiday weekend as President Biden reads the pandemic tea leaves. But that won’t mean Americans will be ready to return to pre-pandemic health care visits to hospital and doctor’s offices. Now that hygiene protocols are well-established in health care providers’ settings, at least two other major consumer barriers to seeking care must be addressed: cost and access. The latest (March 2021) Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll learned that at least one

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Three in Four People Avoiding Health Care in the Pandemic Have Had Chronic Conditions

By the autumn of 2020, U.S. physicians grew concerned that patients who were avoiding visits to doctor’s offices were missing care for chronic conditions, discussed in in Delayed and Forgone Health Care for Nonelderly Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Urban Institute. More than three-fourths of people who delayed or forewent care had at least one chronic health condition. The pandemic may have led to excess deaths from diabetes, dementia, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, as well as record drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in May 2020. In their JAMA editorial on these data, Dr. Bauchner and

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Dr. Burnout – The 2021 Medscape Physician Burnout & Suicide Report

Physicians in the U.S. are experiencing “death by 1,000 cuts,” according to the 2021 Medscape Physician Burnout & Suicide Report. Medscape polled 12,339 physicians representing over 29 specialties between late August and early November 2020 to gauge their feelings about work and life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Medscape researched its first Physician Lifestyle Report in 2012. That research focused on physician “happiness” and work-life satisfaction. In 2013, the issue of burnout was called out on the cover of the report, shown here with the question, “does burnout affect lifestyle?” In 2015, the Physician Lifestyle Report was titled,

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Stay Calm In Your Head(space) – An Update on Meditation-As-Medicine

On U.S. Election Night, November 3, 2020, CNN’s John King stood in front of the “Key Race Alert” screen, announcing state-by-state polling results with the oft-used headline, “Too Early To Call.” That persistent media-moment was stressful for the millions of voters watching the multiple hairline-close battles from state to state. Then there was that company logo strategically placed at the lower left corner of the screen, as in “Brought to you by Calm.” Calm is but one of a growing portfolio of tools that health citizens can use to manage anxiety and stress, get to sleep (and stay sleeping), and

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Health Is Everywhere at #CES2021 – CTA’s CES 2021 Tech Trends to Watch

Spending on connected health monitoring devices in the U.S. will reach $845 million based on the forecast of the Consumer Technology Association, convening the annual 2021 CES this week in a virtual format. CTA unveiled the 2021 key trends we’ll see presented this week through the online exhibition hall and in educational sessions on the CES.Tech platform. Six major themes emerge at #CES2021: digital health, robotics and drones, 5G connectivity, vehicle technology, smart cities, and over all — digital transformation. All of these have applications in health and health care, especially accelerated in need by the COVID-19 pandemic which has

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The 2021 Health Populi TrendCast – Health Care, Self-Care, and the Rebirth of Love in Public Health

In numerology, the symbolic meaning behind the number “21” is death and re-birth. In tarot cards, 21 is a promise of fulfillment, triumph, and victory. How apropos that feels right now as we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020 and turn the page for a kinder, gentler, healthier New Year. It would be sinful to enter a New Year as challenging as 2021 promises to be without taking the many lessons of our 2020 pandemic life and pain into account. For health care in America, it is a time to re-build and re-imagine a better, more equitable landscape for

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How COVID-19 Mobilized Participatory Health and the Importance of “Correct” Personal Health Records

explained in a new report from EY co-sponsored by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the AHA Center for Health Innovation. Digital Transformation – Anywhere Care envisions “health care with no address, or bringing care to the consumer or patient rather than expecting the patient to go to the hospital” as a “vital sign” of health care’s changes going into the new year of 2021. COVID-19 accelerated a movement in which I’ve been involved for over a decade, known as “participatory health.” In its early phase in the U.S., Dr. Tom Ferguson identified the emerging role of the internet in

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Home Is the Health Hub for Older People – Learning from Laurie Orlov

By April 2020, over one million Medicare members were receiving health care via telemedicine. The graph here shows you the hockey-stick growth for virtual care use by older Americans into the second month of the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 public health crisis up-ended all aspects of daily living in America for people of all ages. For older Americans, avoiding the risk of contracting the tricky virus in public, and especially, in health care settings, became Job 1. The pandemic thus nudged older people toward adopting digital lifestyles for daily life, for shopping, for praying, and indeed, for health care. Laurie

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The COVID Healthcare Consumer – 5 Trends Via The Medecision Liberation Blog

The first six months into the coronavirus pandemic shocked the collective system of U.S. consumers for living, learning, laboring, and loving. I absorbed all kinds of data about consumers in the wake of COVID-19 between March and mid-August 2020, culminating in my book, Health Citizenship: How a virus opened hearts and minds, published in September on Kindle and in print in October. In this little primer, I covered the five trends I woven based on all that data-immersion, following up the question I asked at the end of my previous book, HealthConsuming: when and how would Americans claim their health

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Depression and Anxiety are Toxic Side Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Most psychologists in the U.S. treated more patients in the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, shifting their practices to telehealth platforms. These therapists got more referrals and saw fewer cancellations, and one-third treated patients who lived in a different state from their practice site, according to Patients with Depression and Anxiety Surge as Psychologists Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic from the American Psychological Association (APA). For this study, APA polled 1,787 licensed psychologists (both members and non-members in the Association) in the U.S. between late August and early October 2020. This year, APA has published four reports on

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The Pandemic Has Been a Shock to Our System – Learning from Known

The coronavirus pandemic has been a shock to people across all aspects of everyday living, for older and younger people, for work and school, for entertainment and travel — all impacting our hearts, minds, and wallets. “As the bedrock of daily life was shaken, uncertainty predictably emerged as the prevailing emotion of our time but this universal problem was eliciting a highly differentiated reaction in different people,” Kern Schireson, CEO of Known, observed. His company has conducted a large quantitative and qualitative research program culminating in a first report, The Human Condition 2020: A Shock To The System. Known’s team of

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The COVID-19 Era Has Grown Health Consumer Demand for Virtual Care

Over one-half of Americans would likely use virtual care for their healthcare services, and one in four people would actually prefer a virtual relationship with a primary care physician, according to the fifth annual 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey from UnitedHealthcare. What a difference a pandemic can make in accelerating patients’ adoption of digital health tools. This survey was conducted in mid-September 2020, and so the results demonstrate U.S. health consumers’ growing digital health “muscles” in the form of demand and confidence in using virtual care. One in four people would consider online options as their first-line to evaluating personal health

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Stress in America, Like COVID-19, Impacts All Americans

With thirteen days to go until the U.S. #2020Elections day, 3rd November, three in four Americans say the future of America is a significant source of stress, according to the latest Stress in America 2020 study from the American Psychological Association. Furthermore, seven in 10 U.S. adults believe that “now” is the lowest point in the nation’s history that they can remember. “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come,” APA introduces their latest read into stressed-out America. Two in three people in the U.S. say that the

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Women’s Health Policy Advice for the Next Occupant of the White House: Deal With Mental Health, the Pandemic, and Health Care Costs

2020 marked the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. In this auspicious year for women’s voting rights, as COVID-19 emerged in the U.S. in February, women’s labor force participation rate was 58%. Ironic timing indeed: the coronavirus pandemic has been especially harmful to working women’s lives, the Brookings Institution asserted last week in their report in 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series. A new study from Tia, the women’s health services platform, looks deeply into COVID-19’s negative impacts on working-age women and how they would advise the next occupant of

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Black Health Should Matter More in America: The Undefeated Survey on Race and Health

In 2020, most Black people, men and women alike, feel it is a bad time to be Black in America. More than twice as many Black men believed that in 2020 compared with 2006. More than four times as many Black women believed that it’s a bad time to be Black in America in 2020 versus 2011, we learn in  The Undefeated Survey on Race and Health from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). KFF collaborated with The Undefeated, ESPN’s project that focuses on sports, race, and culture. The Undefeated program was started in May 2016, and has become a thought leader

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In the Past Ten Years, Workers’ Health Insurance Premiums Have Grown Much Faster Than Wages

For a worker in the U.S. who benefits from health insurance at the workplace, the annual family premium will average $21,342 this year, according to the 2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The first chart illustrates the growth of the premium shares split by employer and employee contributions. Over ten years, the premium dollars grew from $13,770 in 2010 to $21K in 2020. The worker’s contribution share was 29% in 2010, and 26% in 2020. Single coverage reached $7,470 in 2020 and was $5,049 in 2010. Roughly the same proportion of companies offered health benefits to

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Consumers Connecting for Health for Body, Mind & Spirit – A View from the Consumer Technology Association

In January 2020, before we knew how to spell “coronavirus,” millions of consumers were already “Amazon-Primed” for everyday life-flows and consumer behaviors. The pandemic has accelerated consumer trends already in motion early this year when the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) convened the annual CES 2020 in Las Vegas. I covered the event here in Health Populi, as I have for most of the past decade, highlighting the growth of digital health and, this year, the expanding Internet of Healthy Things called-out by Dr. Joseph Kvedar in 2015. What a difference a public health crisis makes, accelerating digital health beyond fitness

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Health Citizenship in the America. If Not Now, When?

On February 4th, 2020, in a hospital in northern California, the first known inpatient diagnosed with COVID-19 died. On March 11th, the World Health Organization called the growing prevalence of the coronavirus a “pandemic.” On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died at the hands of police in Minneapolis. This summer, the Dixie Chicks dropped the “Dixie” from their name, and NASCAR cancelled the confederate flag from their tracks. Today, nearly 200,000 Americans have died due to the novel coronavirus. My new book, Health Citizenship: How a virus opened hearts and minds, launched this week. In it, I

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Behavioral Health Side-Effects in the COVID Era

“This surge of people experiencing acute behavioral health problems…has the potential to further impact the healthcare system for years to come,” a report from McKinsey expects looking at the hidden costs of COVID-19’s impact on U.S. health care. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on Americans’ mental health, with anxiety and depression growing as a side-effect to worries about the virus itself, the long Great Lockdown in much of the country, and the economic recession that has particularly impacted women and people of color. I covered depression impacts due to COVID-19 here in Health Populi yesterday, and wanted to

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The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 – Trauma- and Stress-Related Disorders in the Pandemic

The CDC calculated that some 200,000 American lives would be lost to the coronavirus pandemic by Labor Day weekend 2020. Beyond the tragic mortality in the U.S. come morbidity impacts hitting mental health in America, hard. And some people are being hit-harder than others, a report from the Centers for Disease Control details. Overall, 4 in 10 people in the U.S. reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom in the last week of June 2020. These symptoms included anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, COVID-19 related trauma- or stress-related disorder (TSRD), substance use (either starting or increasing), and serious

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My ABCovid-19 Journal – Day 5 of 5, Letters “U” through “Z”

We’ve had a lovely week on Seneca Lake, re-setting our physical, mental, and emotional clocks in the #KahnCave. It’s been blissful. I’ve enjoyed receiving feedback on the past four days of ABCovid-19 journal shares on my LinkedIn page and Twitter feed @HealthyThinker. My #arttherapy is yours for the sharing and taking. We are all, truly, on this pandemic journey together. That’s public health, for you. Today, I bring you the fifth and last day of sharing my COVID-19 alphabet with you: the letters “U” through “Z.” Read on, and please let me know after seeing all 26 alpha’s which page(s)

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My ABCovid-19 Journal – Day 1 of 5, “A” through “E”

My friends… It’s time in this pandemic journey that I take a full week to re-charge and bask in the midst of nature, a lake, farm-to-table food, wine-making, and the love of and therapeutic time with my wonderful husband. My gift to you all this week, 10th – 14th August, is to share with you pages from my “ABCovid-19 Journal” that I created/curated in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. We all have our hacks for managing stress and discomfort, and in the first weeks of COVID-19, this was my life-saver. Journaling is one of my self-care strategies; think

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Most Virtual Care Consumers, Satisfied With Visits in the COVID Era, Expect It for Future Care

Within days of the coronavirus pandemic emerging in the U.S., health care providers set up virtual care arrangements to convene with patients. Three months into the COVID-19 crisis, how have patients felt about these telehealth visits? In Patient Perspectives on Virtual Care, Kyruus answers this question based on an online survey of 1,000 patients 18 years of age and older, conducted in May 2020. Each of these health consumers had at least one virtual care visit between February and May 2020. The key findings were that: Engaging in a virtual visit was a new-new thing for 72% of people Patients’

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Faster Pace for Corporate Investments and Behavioral Health in COVID-Driven Digital Health Era

The pace of digital health investments quickened in the first half of 2020, based on Rock Health’s look at health-tech financing in mid-year. Digital health companies garnered $5.4 billion in the first half of the year, record-setting according to Rock Health. Underneath this number were very big deals, shown by the size of the blue bubbles in the first graphic from the report. Note that in H1 2020, the average deal size exceeded $25 mm. Among the largest deals valued at over $100 mm were ClassPass (raising $285 mm), in the business of virtual fitness classes;  Alto Pharmacy, a digital

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What Will Healthcare Costs Be After COVID? PwC Looks Behind the 2021 Numbers

Whether healthcare spending in 2021 increases by double-digits or falls by one-third directly depends on how the coronavirus pandemic will play out over the rest of 2020, based on PwC’s annual report on medical cost trends for 2021. The three cost scenarios are based on assumptions shown in the fine print on the first chart: The medium scenario, a sort of “return to normal” where medical trend could stay even at 6.0%, equal to the 2020 trend. This assumes that healthcare spending recovers by October 2020 as patients return to hospitals and doctors’ offices for regular care patterns. In 2021,

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As Americans Start to Return-to-Work in the Summer of COVID, Mental Health is a Top Concern Among Employers

Most U.S. employers worry about workers’ mental health and substance use as employees begin returning to work in the summer of 2020. About 4 in 5 U.S. companies are “very concerned” or “concerned” about employees’ chronic illnesses, acute illnesses, and injuries along with behavioral health issue, based on McKinsey’s annual employer survey which coincided this year with the COVID-19 pandemic. Challenges of opioid use in the workforce remain a concern for two-thirds of U.S. companies, as well. Some 9 in 10 U.S. companies say behavioral health has a negative impact on workforce productivity. In response, 7 in 10 employers are

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Telehealth Is Just Healthcare Now – One Post-COVID Certainty, Three Reports

As we wrestle with just “what” health care will look like “after COVID,” there’s one certainty that we can embrace in our health planning and forecasting efforts: that’s the persistence of telehealth and virtual care into health care work- and life-flows, for clinicians and consumers alike and aligned. There’s been a flurry of research into this question since the hockey-stick growth of telemedicine visits were evident in March 2020, just days after the World Health Organization uttered the “P-word:” pandemic. Three recent reports (among many others!) bolster the business and clinical cases for telehealth in America in terms of: A

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Stress in America – COVID-19 Takes Toll on Finances, Education, Basic Needs and Parenting

“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of American life, from health and work to education and exercise,” the new Stress in America 2020 study from the American Psychological Association begins. The APA summarizes the impact of these mass changes on the nation: “The negative mental health effects of the coronavirus may be as serious as the physical health implications,” with COVID-19 stressors hitting all health citizens in the U.S. in different ways. Beyond the risk of contracting the virus, the Great Lockdown of the U.S. economy has stressed the U.S. worker and the national economy, with 7 in 10

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How COVID-19 Is Driving More Deaths of Despair

In the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all feel like we are living in desperate times. If you are a person at-risk of dying a Death of Despair, you’re even more at-risk of doing so in the wake of the Coronavirus in America. Demonstrating this sad fact of U.S. life, the Well Being Trust and Robert Graham Center published Projected Deaths of Despair from COVID-19. The analysis quantifies the impact of isolation and loneliness combined with the dramatic economic downturn and mass unemployment with the worsening of mental illness and income inequity on the epidemic of Deaths of

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COVID-19 Reveals Urgent Need for Universal Mental Health Care

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically disrupted every aspect of life for everyday people, ratcheting up stress across all families: The mandate to #StayHome, being physically distanced from work colleagues, beloved family and friends, and our community touchpoints The fear and risk-management of contracting the COVID-19 virus, for ourselves and our families The economic shock or either losing our jobs, seeing our savings eroding from 401(k) plans, losing our health insurance, or all of the above If we’ve kept our jobs in the pandemic, the novel work environment at-home — with children afoot, some of whom are now forced to be

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The Epidemic After the Pandemic is Stress and Anxiety in America – Learning From Ginger

“U.S. workers were stressed before COVID-19; now, stress levels are through the roof,” based on data analyzed by Ginger, the digital behavioral health innovator, asserting this major mental health headline in its latest press release. Working Americans were becoming increasingly stressed, distressed, and anxious in February 2020, when Ginger fielded this study. Key data points from their analysis of U.S. workers’ feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic included: 7 in 10 working people said this was the most stressful time of their working lives 7 in 10 workers believed fellow employees in their companies were significantly less productive due to stress

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The Coronavirus Impact on American Life, Part 2 – Our Mental Health

As the coronavirus pandemic’s curve of infected Americans ratchets up in the U.S., people are seeking comfort from listening to Dolly Parton’s bedtime stories, crushing on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s science-wrapped-with-empathy, and streaming the Tiger King on Netflix. These and other self-care tactics are taking hold in the U.S. as most people are “social distancing” or sheltering in place, based on numbers from the early April 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll on the impact of the coronavirus on American life. While the collective practice of #StayHome to #FlattenTheCurve is the best-practice advice from the science leaders at CDC, the NIAID

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Lockdown Economics for U.S. Health Consumers

The hashtag #StayHome was ushered onto Twitter by 15 U.S. national healthcare leaders in a USA Today editorial yesterday. The op-ed co-authors included Dr. Eric Topol, Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Jordan Shlain, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Andy Slavitt, and other key healthcare opinion leaders. Some states and regions have already mandated that people stay home; at midnight last night, counties in the Bay Area in California instituted this, and there are tightening rules in my area of greater Philadelphia. UBS economist Paul Donovan talked about “Lockdown Economics” in his audio commentary today. Paul’s observations resonated with me as

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[email protected] Update: Kroger and Hy-Vee Morph Grocery into Health, Walmart’s Health Center, CVS/housing and More

With our HealthConsuming “health is everywhere” ethos, this post updates some of the most impactful recent retail health developments shaping consumers’ health/care touchpoints beyond hospitals, physicians, and health plans. For inspiration and context, I’ll kick off with Roz Chast’s latest New Yorker cartoon from the February 3rd 2020 issue — Strangers in the Night, taking place in a Duane Reade pharmacy. Roz really channels the scene in front of the pharmacy counter, from Q-tips to vitamins and tea. And it’s hummable to the tune of, well, Strangers in the Night. Check out the 24-hour pharmacist under the pick-up sign. Now,

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Physicians in America – Too Many Burned Out, Depressed, and Not Getting Support

Some one in three physicians is burned out, according to the Medscape’s National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report. The subtitle, “The Generational Divide,” tells a bit part of the subtext of this annual report that’s always jarring and impactful for both its raw numbers and implications for both patient care and the larger health care system in America. Nearly 1 in 2 physicians in Generation X, those people born between 1965 and 1979, feel burned out compared with roughly 4 in 10 doctors who are Millennials or Boomers. Furthermore, many more women than men physicians feel burned out: 48% of

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The 2020 Social Determinants of Health: Connectivity, Art, Air and Love

Across the U.S., the health/care ecosystem warmly embraced social determinants of health as a concept in 2019. A few of the mainstreaming-of-SDoH signposts in 2019 were: Cigna studying and focusing in on loneliness as a health and wellness risk factor Humana’s Bold Goal initiative targeting Medicare Advantage enrollees CVS building out an SDOH platform, collaborating with Unite US for the effort UPMC launching a social impact program focusing on SDoH, among other projects investing in social factors that bolster public health. As I pointed out in my 2020 Health Populi trendcast, the private sector is taking on more public health

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Art As Medicine – WHO Weaves the Evidence for Arts’ Role in Improving Health

“What’s the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being?” asks a report from the World Health Organization‘s Europe region team (WHO-Europe). There’s a lot of proof supporting arts-as-medicine, WHO details in this paper, which synthesizes research published in over 3,000 studies. The first chart illustrates the logic model that bridges arts to health in three segments: “Components” of arts programs, including but not limited to cognitive stimulation (e.g., learning a new arts skill such as painting, drawing or journaling), social interaction (e.g., participating in theatre), physical activity (e.g., dance), and evocation of emotion (e.g., listening

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Listening to Osler Listening to the Patient – Liberating Health Care at Medecision Liberation 2019

“Listen to your patient; he is telling you the diagnosis,” Dr. William Osler is quoted to have said around the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Osler had been a strong advocate for the physician-patient conversation to inform the doctor’s diagnostic acumen and improve patient outcomes. This year is the centennial of Dr. Osler’s passing, so it’s especially timely that I introduce this post with his legendary assertion in the context of kicking off the 2019 Medecision Liberation conference. This meeting convenes the company’s clients, partners, and staff to share best practices, spark insights and learnings, and enable networking between

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There Is No Health Without Mental Health – Today Is World Mental Health Day

There is no health without mental health. Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. So #LetsTalk (the Twitter hashtag to share stories and research and support on the social feed). Today is October 10th, World Mental Health Day. As we go about our lives today and truly every day, we should be mindful that mental health is all about each of us individually, and all of us in our communities and in the world. First, let’s hear from Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran (who, video spoiler alert, decides to pivot his lyrics to a draft song titled “Gingers

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The New Employer Wellness Lens Includes Mental Health, Telehealth and Women’s Health

U.S. employers are tightening their focus on mental and behavioral health, addressing workers’ chronic conditions, emphasizing women’s health, and allocating more resources to digital and telehealth investments, we learn from Optum’s Ten Years of Health and Well-Being at Work: Learning from our past and reimagining the future. Four in five medium, large and jumbo companies expect their spending on health and wellness programs will increase over the next three years. That spending will have a strong focus on behavioral health services: 9 in 10 employers are concerned with the level of access workers have to mental health services. Companies will

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Health Is Social – The Social Determinants of Health at HIMSS19

In the health care world, it is now commonly accepted that genes contribute less than half of the influence on peoples’ health status. Other issues play starring roles in overall well-being, including environmental factors, health care services, and social determinants of health (SDOH). These inputs include education, personal economics (like job security and financial stability), physical built environments (think: transportation access, safe and healthy housing), food and nutrition, and access to health care. At HIMSS17, I gave a talk in a big room about how technology can scale SDOH; we had standing room only, which is not a brag —

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Loneliness, Public Policy and AI – Lessons From the UK For the US

There’s a shortage of medical providers in the United Kingdom, a nation where healthcare is guaranteed to all Britons via the most beloved institution in the nation: The National Health Service. The NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary in July this year. The NHS “supply shortage” is a result of financial cuts to both social care and public health. These have negatively impacted older people and care for people at home in Great Britain. This article in the BMJ published earlier this year called for increasing these investments to ensure further erosion of population and public health outcomes, and to prevent

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A Breakthrough, Sobering Report on Teens and Young Adults, Digital Health and Social Media Use: Implications for Mental Health

There’s a load of anecdotal data about teens and young adults (TYAs) and their always-on relationship with mobile phones and social networks. There are also hundreds of stories written in both mass media outlets and professional journals on the topic of TYAs and mental health: especially relative to depression and suicidality. In a breakthrough study, Hopelab and the Well Being Trust have sponsored the first deep-dive into the many dimensions of young people, their relationship with social media, and depression in Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S., The report was

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It Could Take Five Generations for a Low-Income US Family to Reach Average Income in America

Social mobility in America has a lot of friction: children of wealthier people tend to grow into affluence, and children of low-income parents tend to struggle to move up the income and education ladder, according to A Broken Social Elevator: How to Promote Social Mobility, a new report from the OECD. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studied member nations’ economies, demographics, income and opportunities to gauge each country’s social mobility. Social mobility, the OECD explains, is multi-faceted. It can refer to inter-generational mobility between parents, children, and grandchildren. Alternatively, social mobility can look at intra-generational mobility, over the course

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As Medical Cost Trend Remains Flat, Patients Face Growing Health Consumer Financial Stress

When it comes to healthcare costs, lines that decline over time are generally seen as good news. That’s how media outlets will cover the top-line of PwC’s report Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2019. However, there are other forces underneath the stable-looking 6.0% medical trend growth projected for 2019 that will impact healthcare providers, insurers, and suppliers to the industry. There’s this macro-health economic story, and then there’s the micro-economics of healthcare for the household. Simply put: the impact of growing financial risk for healthcare costs will be felt by patients/consumers themselves. I’ve curated the four charts from the

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Thinking About Kate and Anthony – Suicide and Depression Is US

Yesterday at 1 pm, we learned that the incidence of suicide is up in America in a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This morning, we awake to news that Anthony Bourdain, the witty and prolific travel and food expert, took his own life. Earlier this week, Kate Spade, fashion designer and creative force, took her own life. The loss of these two bright lights, gone from our lives to suicide within a few days of each other, gives me the sad compulsion to say something, again, about

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The U.S. is a Nation in Pain – America’s Life Expectancy Fell Again in 2016

American saw the greatest number of deaths from suicide and alcohol- and drug-induced fatalities was recorded in 2016. That statistic of nearly 142,000 equates to deaths from stroke and exceed the number of deaths among Americans who died in all U.S. wars since 1950, according to Pain in the Nation Update from the Well Being Trust and Trust for America’s Health. The line graph soberly illustrates the growing tragic public health epidemic of mortality due to preventable causes, those deaths of despair as Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton have observed in their research into this uniquely all-American phenomenon. While this

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A Tale of Two America’s for Health

  Disparities in Americans’ health vary among people living in each of the 50 states. These differences in health status generally fall into two regions: north and south, found in the Commonwealth Fund’s 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance. The map shows this stark geography-is-health-destiny reality: the worse-than-average states, the Fund found, run from Nevada southeast to Arizona, through New Mexico and Texas all the way to Atlantic Ocean and the Carolinas, then north west all the way up through the industrial Midwest states through Michigan to the north. Wyoming is the only non-contiguous state in the worse-performing U.S. state

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Guns, Jobs, or Health Care? In 2018, Voters Split as to Top Issue

It’s a fairly even split between voting first on gun policy, jobs, or healthcare for the 2018 mid-term elections, ac cording to the May 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Arguably, gun policy can cut in two ways: in light of the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings and wake-up call for #NeverAgain among both students and the public-at-large, vis-a-vis Second Amendment issue voters. And, as a growing public health issue, “guns” could also be adjacent to health. “If it isn’t a health problem, then why are all these people dying from it?” rhetorically asked Dr. Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency

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The Health of A Nation – Being Healthy In America Depends on Where You Live

In the US, when it comes to life and death, it’s good to live in Hawaii, Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa — the top five states with the greatest life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at birth in 2016. For health and longevity, sorry to see the lowest five ranked states are Washington DC which ranks last, along with Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Alabama. This sober geography-is-health-destiny update was published this week in JAMA, The State of US Health, 1990-2016: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States. The first chart illustrates states down the left

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Health Insurance Costs Stress US Whether We’re Rich or Not / and Why a $0 Budget for CFPB Matters for Healthcare

Health care costs cause anxiety for U.S. adults, regardless of their affluence, we learn in Uncertainty About Healthcare, the latest Stress in America poll from the American Psychological Association. The big stat is that 2 in 3 Americans say the cost of health insurance is a stressor for them or their loved ones, whether the person earns more or less than $50,000 a year. Underneath that top-line are some demographic differences. Millennials are most concerned about access to mental health care compared with Boomers and older adults. Reproductive care access is of most interest to Millennials and Gen Xers. Two-thirds

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Hug Your Physician: S/He Needs It – Listening to the 2018 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report

Two in five U.S. physicians feels burned out, according to the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report for 2018. This year, Medscape explicitly adds the condition of “depression” to its important study, and its title. In 2017, the Medscape report was about bias and burnout. Physicians involved in primary care specialties and critical care are especially at-risk for burnout, the study found. One in five OBGYNs experience both burnout and depression. Furthermore, there’s a big gender disparity when it comes to feeling burned out: nearly one-half of female physicians feel burnout compared with 38% of male doctors. Being employed by

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Sleepless in America: Prescribing Sleep at CES 2018

Las Vegas is known for glitzy neon lights brightly shining along the strip and casinos without clocks reminding us of the time, stimulating us to stay awake at all hours of day or night. But inside the Sands Convention Center are a couple dozen technologies and connected things designed to put us to sleep, which is a growing digital health category at the annual CES. Form factors for sleep-things at CES 2018 include masks, beds, lights, apps, and even a huggable sleep “robot.” Why is sleep seeing such a huge influx on the consumer tech-supply side? Because there’s growing, mainstream

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Healthy Living in Digital Times at CES 2018

Connecting Life’s Dots, the organization Living in Digital Times partners with CES to deliver conference content during the show. At CES 2018, LIDT is connecting a lot of dots to help make health streamline into daily living. Robin Raskin, founder, kicked off LIDT’s press conference setting the context for how technology is changing lifestyles. Her Holy Grail is to help make tech fun for everybody, inclusive for everybody, and loved by everybody, she enthused. LIDT has been a presence at CES for many years, conceiving the contest the Last Gadget Standing, hosting  tech-fashion shows with robots, and supporting a young innovators

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Stress is US: Health Care Is the #1 Stressor in America

Above the economy, trust in government, crime, war, terrorism, and taxes, health care is the top cause of stress in America. For ten years, the American Psychological Association has gauged Americans’ collective mood in their ongoing study, Stress in America. The latest report is The State of Our Nation, published this month, finding that we’re at the “lowest point in our nation’s history” according to 59% of Americans. The 2016 national election in the U.S. raised the stress-stakes, when APA released a stress study we discussed here in Health Populi. The election season was a source of stress for 52%

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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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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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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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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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Color Me Well – Coloring Books As Rx for Wellness

Coloring books are best sellers in bookstores, craft merchandisers, newspaper stands, and on Amazon. Now, they’re joining the health and wellness world. The market growth of coloring books has been recognized in national media like the Washington Post, who called the phenomenon, “a bright spot in the financial results of publishers and retailers alike.” Nielsen Bookscan estimated that 12 million were sold in 2015, up from 1 million in 2014. Publishers Weekly covered the craze in November 2015. A Forbes column said, “The adult coloring craze continues and there is no end in sight.” Some of the mental health benefits

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Death Rates Rise For Middle-Age White Men: Economics and Mental Health in America

Shocking statistics were published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing rising death rates for middle-age men. The major causes: suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, and liver diseases. The line chart illustrates the death rates per 100,000 population of U.S. whites (“USW”), the top line on the graph, compared with 45-54 year old men in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Sweden — along with U.S. Hispanic males (“USH”) — for whom death rates have fallen since 1990. The authors note that the increase in midlife mortality is only partly understood. Increased availability of

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The Internet of Things in Health: McKinsey Sees $1.6 T Value

‘Tis the summer of big, smart reports covering the Internet of Things (IoT) impact on health and fitness. Just this month, three of these missives have come to my inbox, and they all contribute sound thinking about the topic. Today, tomorrow and Friday, I’ll cover each of these here in Health Populi. We begin with McKinsey Global Institute’s The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype. [In full disclosure, I was an outside adviser to the MGI team members who focused on the human/health and fitness aspects of this report, and thank MGI for the opportunity to provide

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Color us stressed – how to deal

Coast-to-coast, stress is the modus vivendi for most Americans: 55% of people feel stressed in every day life, according to a study from Televox. A Stressful Nation: Americans Search for a Healthy Balance paints a picture of a nation of physically inactive people working too hard and playing too little. And far more women feel the stress than men do. 64% of people say they’re stressed during a typical workday. 52% of people see stress negatively impacting their lives. And nearly one-half of people believe they could better manage their stress. As a result, physicians say that Americans are experiencing negative

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Gamification in health – make the person the quarterback

Games are part of peoples’ lives in the 20-teens. Gamification has been used in military and business training and now is a growing method to help change peoples’ behavior across a variety of issues — health, among them. But it’s not all “fun and games” when it comes to succeeding in applying gaming methods in health, according to Gaming to Engage the Healthcare Consumer, a report from ICF International. ICF’s roots are in the defense industry, and the team that wrote this paper together have decades of experience in military applications. These learnings can be quite useful when translated into the

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Mobile health apps – opportunity for patients and doctors to co-create the evidence

There are thousands of downloadable apps that people can use that touch on health. But among the 40,000+ mobile health apps available in iTunes, which most effectively drive health and efficient care? To answer that question, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics analyzed 43,689 health, fitness and medical apps in the Apple iTunes store as of June 2013. These split into what IMS categorized as 23,682 “genuine” health care apps, and 20,007 falling into miscellaneous categories such as product-specific apps, fashion and beauty, fertility, veterinary, and apps with “gimmicks” (IMS’s word) with no obvious health benefit. Among the 23,682 so-called

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Living paycheck to paycheck: what it means for health

While 50% of Americans feel they have a sound financial position, the other half is living paycheck to paycheck. 8% say they can’t even pay for essentials. The second annual Allstate “Life Tracks” Poll finds American adults split between have’s and have not’s, with even the “have’s” feeling less than financially literate. There is an equal split between people who feel they’re in an “excellent” or “good” financial position compared with those who feel they’re in financially “fair” or “poor” shape. Men feel more financially secure than women; 3 in 4 single parents feel less well-off compared to the average

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Battle of the (wrist)Bands at the Digital Health Summit, 2013 CES

One of the fastest-growing segments at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is digital health. And within that segment, there’s a battle brewing for what technology companies seem to think is the most valuable part of real estate on the human body: the wrist. I counted at least fifty products as I cruised aisles 26000-27000 in the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center that had wristbands, usually black, plastic or rubbery, and often able to click in and out of the band for use in-hand, in pocket, or in a few cases, on a

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Wired health: living by numbers – a review of the event

Wired magazine, longtime evangelist for all-things-tech, has played a growing role in serving up health-tech content over the past several years, especially through the work of Thomas Goetz. This month, Wired featured an informative section on living by numbers — the theme of a new Wired conference held 15-16 October 2012 in New York City. This feels like the week of digital health on the east coast of the U.S.: several major meetings have convened that highlight the role of technology — especially, the Internet, mobile platforms, and Big Data — on health. Among the meetings were the NYeC Digital Health conference, Digital

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Lab tests and knowing our numbers can inspire patient engagement

One-half of the members of Kaiser Permanente use the plans’ personal health record system, MyHealthManager. The most-used function of MyHealthManager is accessing lab results, according to KP. Now that Quest, the lab and health information company, has launched the mobile phone app, Gazelle, more health citizens will have access to lab test results. This could be a health-activating opportunity inspiring patient engagement. While Gazelle is a fully functional personal health record (PHR), it’s the connection to lab test results that’s the lightbulb moment. PHRs have been available to health consumers for over a decade. There are millions of users of

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The Online Couch: how “safe Skyping” is changing the relationship for patients and therapists

Skype and videoconferencing have surpassed the tipping point of consumer adoption. Grandparents Skype with grandchildren living far, far away. Soldiers converse daily with families from Afghanistan and Iraq war theatres. Workers streamline telecommuting by videoconferencing with colleagues in geographically distributed offices. In the era of DIY’ing all aspects of life, more health citizens are taking to DIY’ing health — and, increasingly, looking beyond physical health for convenient access to mental and behavioral health services. The Online Couch: Mental Health Care on the Web is my latest paper for the California HealthCare Foundation. Among a range of emerging tech-enabled mental health

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The Online Couch: how the Internet and mobile are changing mental and behavioral health care

Therapy is now a click away, whether on a computer, a smartphone or a tablet. Drs. Freud, Ellis and Beck, heads-up: the Internet is the new couch of psychiatry. That is, at least for people with mild to moderate depression and those with anxiety, as I report in my latest paper for the California HealthCare Foundation, The Online Couch: Mental Health Care on the Web. Many factors are aligning that make therapy online an effective extension of face-to-face therapy for the right patients at the right time in the U.S.: An undersupply of psychologists, psychiatrists, and other therapists, especially in rural and

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