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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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