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What $6,553 Buys You in America: A Luxury Watch, a Year at Valdosta State, or a PPO for One – the 2020 Milliman Medical Index

Imagine this: you find yourself with $6,553 in your pocket and you can pick one of the following: A new 2020 Breitling Navitimer watch; A year’s in-state tuition at Valdosta State University; or, A PPO for an average individual. Welcome to the annual Milliman Medical Index (MMI), which gauges the yearly price of an employer-sponsored preferred-provider organization (PPO) health insurance plan for a hypothetical American family and an N of 1 employee. That is a 4.1% increase from the 2019 estimate, about twice the rate of U.S. gross domestic product growth, Milliman points out in its report.   Milliman bases

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COVID-19’s Consumer Health Care Behaviors: Telehealth, Trauma, and Trust, via PwC

In a matter of several weeks, people living in the U.S. have endured massive personal social, emotional, physical and fiscal disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State mandates to shelter at home, the adoption of wearing face masks and covers in public, and re-making dining tables and dens into home-working spaces for kids in school or parents telecommuting, American homes have morphed into petri dishes of people undergoing dramatic changes in a very short time. A new report from PwC looks at peoples’ changes in health behaviors in the first two months of the pandemic, asking whether these changes will

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Health, Wealth & COVID-19 – My Conversation with Jeanne Pinder & Carium, in Charts

The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically impacting and re-shaping our health and wealth, simultaneously. Today, I’ll be brainstorming this convergence in a “collaborative health conversation” hosted by Carium’s Health IRL series.  Here’s a link to the event. Jeanne founded ClearHealthCosts nearly ten years ago, having worked as a journalist with the New York Times and other media. She began to build a network of other journalists, each a node in a network to crowdsource readers’-patients’ medical bills in local markets. Jeanne started in the NYC metro and expanded, one node at a time and through many sources of funding from not-for-profits/foundations,

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The Grocery Store as Social, Health — and Sickness — Destination

On Monday, 6th April 2020, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has determined that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are essential workers in our age of the coronavirus pandemic. The PM has posted an Easter egg coloring project on her Facebook page to support children (and people like me who like to color) in the #StayHome era. In the U.S., the day before on Sunday 7th April, Dr. Deborah Birx advised Americans that, “The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the

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Telehealth and COVID-19 in the U.S.: A Conversation with Ann Mond Johnson, ATA CEO

Will the coronavirus inspire greater adoption of telehealth in the U.S.? Let’s travel to Shanghai, China where, “the covid-19 epidemic has brought millions of new patients online. They are likely to stay there,” asserts “The smartphone will see you now,” an article in the March 7th 2020 issue of The Economist. The article returns to the advent of the SARS epidemic in China in 2003, which ushered in a series of events: people stayed home, and Chinese social media and e-commerce proliferated. The coronavirus spawned another kind of gift to China and the nation’s health citizens: telemedicine, the essay explains. A

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Waking Up a Health Consumer in the COVID-19 Era

With President Trump’s somber speech from the Oval Office last night, we wake up on 12th March 2020 to a ban on most travel from Europe to the U.S., recommendations for hygiene, and call to come together in America. His remarks focused largely on an immigration and travel policy versus science, triaging, testing and treatment of the virus itself. Here is a link to the President’s full remarks from the White House website, presented at about 9 pm on 11 March 2020. Over the past week, I’ve culled several studies and resources to divine a profile of the U.S. consumer

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“How’s Life?” for American Women? The New OECD Report Reveals Financial Gaps on International Women’s Day 2020

March 8 is International Women’s Day. In the U.S., there remain significant disparities between men and women, in particular related to financial well-being. The first chart comes from the new OECD “How’s Life?” report published today (March 9th) measuring well-being around the country members of the OECD. This chart focuses on women versus men in the United States based on over a dozen key indicators. Top-line, many fewer women feel safe in America, and earnings in dollars and hours worked fall short of men’s incomes. This translates into lower socioeconomic status for women, which diminishes overall health and well-being for

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The High Cost-of-Thriving and the Evolving Social Contract for Health Care

Millions of Americans have to work 53 weeks to cover a year’s worth of household expenses. Most Americans haven’t saved much for their retirement. Furthermore, the bullish macroeconomic outlook for the U.S. in early 2020 hasn’t translated into individual American’s optimism for their own family budgets. (Sidebar and caveat: yesterday was the fourth day in a row of the U.S. financial markets losing as much as 10% of market cap, so the global economic outlook is being revised downward by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Vanguard, and Morningstar, among other financial market prognosticators. MarketWatch called this week the worst market

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Why CTA’s Shepherding AI Is Important for Re-Imagining Healthcare

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), collaborating with industry stakeholders, has ushered in a standard for artificial intelligence in health care.   CTA is the membership organization for companies that innovate, manufacture and market consumer-facing tech like big-screen TVs, slick new autos, video games and voice assistants. So what’s an organization like CTA doing with AI and health care? Let me connect the dots. Check out this graphic taken from my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. This shows the ten categories of tech I revisit each year at CES, CTA’s annual mega-conference of new-new things in consumer electronics

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Outpatient is the New Inpatient – The Future of Hospitals in America

Outpatient revenue is crossing the curve of inpatient income. This is the new reality for U.S. hospitals and why I’ve titled this post, “outpatient is the new inpatient,” a future paradigm for U.S. hospitals This realization is informed by data in a new report from Deloitte, Where have the many hospital inpatient gone? The line chart illustrates Deloitte’s top and bottom line: “The shift toward outpatient is happening and will likely have a tremendous impact on operations, business models, staffing, and capital. Health systems should prepare for the future today and start thinking not only about how to manage their

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Tools for Paying Medical Bills Don’t Help Health Consumers Manage Their Financial Health

There’s a gap between the supply of digital health tools that hospitals and health systems offer patients, and what patients-as-consumers need for overall health and wellbeing. This chasm is illustrated in The future of the digital patient experience, the latest report from HIMSS and the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM). The big gap in supply to patients vs. demand by health consumers is highlighted by what the arrow in the chart below points to: managing payments and paying bills. Nowhere in the top 10 most commonly provided digital tools is one for price transparency, cost comparing or cost estimating.  In the

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Most Workers and their Employers Want to Receive Digital Healthcare On-Demand

Most employers and their workers see the benefits of digital health in helping make health care more accessible and lower-cost, according to survey research published in Health on Demand from Mercer Marsh Benefits. Interestingly, more workers living in developing countries are keener on going digital for health than people working in wealthier nations. Mercer’s study was global, analyzing companies and their employees in both mature and growth economies around the world. In total, Mercer interviewed 16,564 workers and 1,300 senior decision makers in companies. The U.S. sample size was 2,051 employees and 100 decision makers. There’s a treasure trove of insights

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The Ill Health of Rural Hospitals in Four Charts

There are 1,844 rural hospitals operating in the U.S. That number is down by 19 in the 2019 calendar year, the worst year of rural hospital closings seen in the past decade. That hockey-stick growth of closures is shown in the first chart, where 34 rural hospitals shut down in the past 2 years. Rural U.S. hospitals are in poor fiscal health. “The accelerated rate at which rural hospitals are closing continues to unsettle the rural healthcare community and demands a more nuanced investigation into rural hospital performance,” threatening the stability of the rural health safety net, according to the

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Health@Retail 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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Come Together – A Health Policy Prescription from the Bipartisan Policy Center

Among all Americans, the most popular approach for improving the health care in the U.S. isn’t repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act or moving to a Medicare-for-All government-provided plan. It would be to improve the current health care system, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s research reported in a Bipartisan Rx for America’s Health Care. The BPC is a truly bipartisan organization, co-founded by Former Democratic Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, and Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker and Bob Dole. While this political week in America has revealed deep chasms between the Dems and

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The State of the Union for Prescription Drug Prices

Tonight, President Trump will present his fourth annual State of the Union address. This morning we don’t have a transcript of the speech ahead of the event, but one topic remains high on U.S. voters’ priorities, across political party – prescription drug prices. Few issues unite U.S. voters in 2020 quite like supporting Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, shown by the October 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Whether Democrat, Independent, or Republican, most people living in America favor government intervention in regulating the cost of medicines in some way. In this poll, the top

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The Suicide Rate in America Increased by 40% between 2000 and 2017. Blue Collar Workers Were Much More At Risk.

The rate of suicide in the U.S. rose from 12.9 per 100,000 population to 18.0 between 2000 and 2017, a 40% increase. Those workers most at-risk for suiciding were men working in construction and mining, maintenance, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, farming and fishing, and transportation. For women, working in construction and mining, protective service, transportation, healthcare (support and practice), the arts and entertainment, and personal care put them at higher risk of suicide. The latest report from the CDC on Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation provides a current analysis of the National Violent Death Reporting System which collects data from 32 states,

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Income Inequality is Fostering Mis-Trust, the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer Observes

Economic development has historically built trust among nations’ citizens. But in developed, wealthier parts of the world, like the U.S., “a record number of countries are experiencing an all-time high ‘mass-class’ trust divide,” according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. For 20 years, Edelman has released its annual Trust Barometer every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, recognizing the importance of trust in the global economy and society. Last year, it was the employer who was the most-trusted touch-point in citizens’ lives the world over, I discussed in Health Populi one year ago. This year, even our employers can’t

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Nurses Continue to Reign #1 in Honesty and Ethics; Healthcare Pro’s 4 of Top 5 in Annual Gallup Poll

The topline of this year’s annual Gallup Poll into honesty and ethics of professions finds nurses sustaining their reign as the top trusted profession in America. But it’s also important to point out that four of the top five most ethical professions are people working on the front lines of health care: doctors (#3), pharmacists (#4) and dentists (#5). Engineers rank second this year after nurses, edging ahead of doctors and pharmacists who typically have ranked 2nd and 3rd each year in the past decade. One of these years, pharmacists’ reputation fell as the profession was associated with being a

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The Internet of Teeth – The Growth of Oral Health at CES 2020

The presence of health and medicine is growing at CES, the annual conference of all-things-tech for consumers. At this week’s Show in Las Vegas, we see that the Internet of Healthy Things (a phrase coined by Dr. Joe Kvedar) has taken hold and gone mainstream in remote health monitoring, wearable tech, and heart rate tracking which is now embedded (and expected by health-seeking consumers) in wristbands. An expanding category in the Internet of Healthy Things is oral care. Let’s call this the Internet of Teeth, yet another riff on “IoT.” Of course, oral health goes well beyond teeth and toothbrushes.

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“Digital Health Is An Ecosystem of Ecosystems” – CTA’s 2020 Trends to Watch Into the Data Age

In CTA’s 2020 Consumer Tech Forecast launched yesterday at Media Day 1 at CES, Steve Koenig VP of Research, said that, “digital health is an ecosystem of ecosystems.” Health, medical and wellness trends featured large in the forecast, which brought together key trends for 5G, robotics, voice tech, AR/VR/XR, and the next iteration of IoT — which Steve said will still be called “IoT,” but in this phase will morph into the “Intelligence of Things.” That speaks to Steve’s phrase, “ecosystem of ecosystems,” because that’s not just “digital” health — that’s now the true nature of health/care, and what is

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Living in Digital Healthcare Times – Kicking off #DigitalHealthCES & #CES2020

Today is Day 1 of two Media Days at #CES2020 in Las Vegas, kicking off this manic week of the Consumer Electronics Show at the Mandalay Bay convention center. For several years, I’ve convened with journalists and industry analysts from around the world for these two days before the “official” opening of CES to hear the latest news from some of the largest tech-focused companies on Earth. Announcements come from across industry sector — from automotive and transportation, telecoms, consumer goods, entertainment, social media, travel, and retail…with platform technologies playing a role including but not limited to AI, AR/VR/XR (the

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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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The Patient As Payor: Workers Covered by Employer Health Insurance Spend 11.5% of Household Incomes on Premiums and Deductibles

Workers covered by health insurance through their companies spend 11.5% of their household income on health insurance premiums and deductibles based on The Commonwealth Fund’s latest report on employee health care costs, Trends in Employer Health Coverage, 2008-2018: Higher Costs for Workers and Their Families. The topline of this study is that average annual growth in employer premiums rose faster between 2016 and 2017, by about 5% for both single and family plans. The bottom line for families is that workers’ premium payments grew faster than median incomes did over the ten years 2008 to 2018. Average deductibles also outpaced

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Most Health Consumers Expect Technology To Play a Larger Role As Tech-Angst & Privacy Concerns Grow

As technology continues to re-shape consumers’ experiences and expectations with health/care, retail, travel and work, peoples’ concerns about data privacy are also growing as observed by a 2020 consumer trends forecast from GlobalWebIndex, Connecting the dots. First, some overall context to the study. GlobalWebIndex “connects the dots” of consumers trends in 2020 including the topics shown in the first graphic including commerce and retail, gaming, travel, human touch, nostalgia, privacy and digital health — the first of these trends discussed in the report. Note that the data discussed in this post include responses from consumers residing in both the U.S.

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Will Technology Cure Americans’ Health Care System Ills? Considering Google and Ascension Health’s Data Deal

“Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans,” the Wall Street Journal reported in today’s paper and on the WSJ.com website. The story started with the scenario that, “Search giant is amassing health records from Ascension facilities in 21 states; patients not yet informed.” Here’s Ascension’s press release on the collaboration, described in the title as “healthcare transformation.” Note: this release was written after the Wall Street Journal published this story. And, according to the WSJ reporting, “Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data

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Great Expectations for Health Care: Patients Look for Consumer Experience and Trust in Salesforce’s Latest Research

On the demand side of U.S. health care economics, patients are now payors as health consumers with more financial skin in paying medical bills. As consumers, people have great expectations from the organizations on the supply side of health care — providers (hospitals and doctors), health insurance plans, pharma and medical device companies. But as payors, health consumers face challenges in getting care, so great expectations are met with frustration and eroding trust with the system, according to the latest Connected Healthcare Consumer report from Salesforce published today as the company announced expansion of their health cloud capabilities. This is

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Thinking About Health Care One Year From the 2020 Presidential Election

Today is 4th November 2019, exactly one year to the day that Americans can express their political will and cast their vote for President of the United States. Health care will be a key issue driving people to their local polling places, so it’s an opportune moment to take the temperature on U.S. voters’ perspectives on healthcare reform. This post looks at three current polls to gauge how Americans are feeling about health care reform 365 days before the 2020 election, and one day before tomorrow’s 2019 municipal and state elections. Today’s Financial Times features a poll that found two-thirds

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A Health Future with Lyft and Uber as Patient Data Stewards: Rock Health’s 2019 Consumer Survey

Patients searching online for health information and health care provider reviews is mainstream in 2019.  Digital health tracking is now adopted by 4 in 10 U.S. consumers. Rock Health’s Digital Health Consumer Adoption Report for 2019 was developed in collaboration with the Stanford Medicine Center for Digital Health. Rock Health’s research has tracked peoples’ use of telemedicine, wearable technology, digital health tracking, and online health information since 2015, and the results this round show relative flattening of adoption across these various tools. Rock Health’s top-line findings were that: Patient-generated health data creates opportunity, and potential challenges Online health information is

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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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How a Razor Bolsters Health, Wellness and Love for Caregiving

The market for caregiving is growing and the business community has, finally, begun to pay attention. The Washington Post referred to this market as a “gold rush” to design smart shoes, custom razors and technology for the “over-65 crowd.” Caregiving in the U.S., the seminal report from AARP, estimated that 43,5 million adults in the U.S. had provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the past year, about one in five people being caregivers. Over half of caregivers are women, and are about 49 years of age on average. Caregivers spent over 24 hours a week providing care go

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Health Consumer Behaviors in the U.S. Stall, Alegeus Finds in the 2019 Index

In the U.S., the theory of and rationale behind consumer-directed health has been that if you give a patient more financial skin-in-the-game — that is, to compel people to spend more out-of-pocket on health care — you will motivate that patient to don the hat of a consumer — to mindfully research, shop around, and purchase health care in a rational way, benefit from lower-cost and high-quality healthcare services. For years, Alegeus found that patients were indeed growing those consumer health muscles to save and shop for health care. In 2019, it appears that patients have backslid, according to the

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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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Wasted: $1 of Every $4 Spent on Health Care In America

A study in JAMA published this week analyzed research reports that have measured waste in the U.S. health care system, calculating that 25% of medical spending in America is wasted. If spending is gauged at $3.8 trillion, waste amounts to nearly $1 trillion. If spending is 18% of the American gross domestic product (GDP), then some 4.5% of the U.S. economy is wasted spending by the health care system and its stakeholders. In “Waste in the US Health Care System,” a team from Humana and the Univrsity of Pittsburgh recalibrated the previous finding of 30% of wasted spending to the 25%,

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The New Health/Care is Patient-Led, Retail-Enabled – The GMDC Self-Care Summit

SelfCare is health/care, particularly as patients, everyday people, take on greater responsibility for clinical decisions and paying for medical services. We’re convening today through Sunday in Indianapolis with GMDC, the Global Market Development Center and Retail Tomorrow to brainstorm the current and future prospects for SelfCare, health and wellness in the hands, hearts, and homes of consumers. To bolster the message and engage with industry stakeholders, GMDC collaborated with the Hamacher Resource Group to develop a SelfCare Roadmap, an interactive tool that provides insights into twelve conditions where consumers typically looking to DIY their health using over-the-counter medicines, supplies and

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Health @ Retail – Prelude to GMDC SelfCare Summit with Updates from Hims & Hers, GoodRx, Sam’s Club and Amazon Care

“We knew millions of people weren’t getting the care they needed — they were either too embarrassed to seek help or felt stuck in a system that was confusing and intimidating. Digital health has the potential to radically change the way people approach their wellness and, since launching in 2017, we’ve outpaced even our own expectations, delivering more than 1 million Hims & Hers products to our customers. In collaboration with highly-qualified doctors and healthcare providers, we’ve built a digital health platform that is changing the way people talk about and receive the care they need.” That’s  a verbatim paragraph

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

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

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Worrying About Paying for Health Care Is the Norm in America

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Talking “HealthConsuming” on the MM&M Podcast

Marc Iskowitz, Executive Editor of MM&M, warmly welcomed me to the Haymarket Media soundproof studio in New York City yesterday. We’d been trying to schedule meeting up to do a live podcast since February, and we finally got our mutual acts together on 6th August 2019. Here’s a link to the 30-minute conversation, where Marc combed through the over 500 endnotes from HealthConsuming‘s appendix to explore the patient as the new health care payor, the Amazon prime-ing of people, and prospects for social determinants of health to bolster medicines “beyond the pill.” https://www.pscp.tv/MMMnews/1eaJbvgovBYJX Thanks for listening — and if you

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Telehealth Awareness, Access and Adoption: Updates from J.D. Power, the ATA and FAIR Health

When you think “J.D. Power,” your mind probably imagines reviews of automotive performance, retail shopping experiences, or perhaps even health insurance plan customer service. Expanding its report-card role in the health ecosystem. J.D. Power has undertaken a survey on consumer satisfaction with 31 telehealth providers across 15 measures, which will be published in November 2019. In advance of the full report, the organization released a summary on telehealth access and satisfaction, which I’ll discuss in this post. I’ll also weave in the latest insights from the ATA 2019 State of the States report updating legislative/regulatory telemedicine activity at the U.S.

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Finances Are the Top Cause of Stress, and HSAs Aren’t Helping So Much…Yet

If you heed the mass media headlines and President Trump’s tweets, the U.S. has achieved “the best economy” ever in mid-July 2019. But if you’re working full time in that economy, you tend to feel much less positive about your personal prospects and fiscal fitness. Nearly nine in 10 working Americans believe that medical costs will rise in the next few years as they pondering potential changes to the Affordable Care Act. The bottom line is that one-half of working people are more concerned about how they will save for future health care expenses. That’s the over-arching theme in PwC’s

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The Growth of Emerging Consumer Electronics Categories Adds to Digital Health Platforms

Of the $401 billion that will flow through retailers for consumer technology products, many of the fastest-emerging categories will play a role as platforms for health and medical care at home and in wearable tech. This is my tea-leaf read from reviewing the projections in the report, U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts, July 2019, from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). [CTA is annual convener of CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics meet-up.] Along with artificial intelligence (AI) and fast 5G networking, the forecast also quantifies growth prospects for smart speakers, home robots, wireless earbuds, smartwatches. and in-vehicle technology —

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Health Care and the Democratic Debates – Part 1 – Medicare For All, Rx Prices, Guns and Mental Health

Twenty Democratic Presidential candidates each have a handful of minutes to make their case for scoring the 2020 nomination, “debating” last night and tonight on major issues facing the United States. I watched every minute, iPad at the ready, taking detailed notes during the 120 minutes of political discourse conducted at breakneck speed. Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, and Jose Diaz-Balart asked the ten candidates questions covering guns, butter (the economy), immigration, climate change, and of course, health care — what I’m focusing on in this post, the first of two-debate-days-in-a-row. The first ten of twenty candidates in this debate were,

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Intent, Insiders/Outsiders and Insights — Disney Institute’s Women’s Leadership Summit

There are many forms of magic inspired by Disney, the company. There’s the obvious attraction, the Magic Kingdom, that was Walt’s original destination vision, “imagineered” in 1932. Then there are other kinds of magic. The one I’m deep into in the moment is inspiration, ideation, and “reimagineering” my own thinking about work, legacy, and social justice. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to spend much of this week at the inaugural Disney Institute Women’s Leadership Summit. The Institute convened about 300 women (and a handful of brave “He-for-She” men keen on diversity) in Orlando to learn about and brainstorm

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The Persistent Rural/Urban Broadband Gap Is Bad for Health

              In the U.S., rural residents’ access to broadband at home continues to lag behind urban and suburban dwellers, the Pew Research Group noted in a May 2019 research note on Americans’ use of technology. The Pew survey explored Americans’ adoption of technology and found that rural dwellers are also less likely to have multiple devices than non-rural consumers. Across the four types of tech studied, it’s smartphones that top the list of penetration in rural areas (at 71%), closely followed by computers (desktop or laptop, with 69% adoption), broadband (at 63%) and tablets

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Healthcare Providers’ Consumer Experience Gaps – Learnings from Kaufman Hall’s 2019 Index

Most U.S. healthcare providers are spending more time, effort and capital with an eye to engaging with patients-as-consumers, a trend quantified in the report, the 2019 State of Consumerism in Healthcare: The Bar is Rising from Kaufman Hall, summarizing results from this year’s healthcare consumerism index survey conducted among about 200 healthcare providers. “Legacy organizations will need premier-level consumer capabilities to compete in today’s increasingly consumer-centric environment,” Kaufman Hall recommends. Providers identified the key capability gaps for consumer-centric care as improving the consumer experience, offering a variety of facility-based access points, utilizing digital tools for health engagement, providing price transparency,

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Americans Could Foster a Health Consumer Movement, Families USA Envisions

Employers, health care providers, unions, leaders and — first and foremost, consumers — must come together to build a more accessible, affordable health care system in America, proposes a call-to-action fostered by a Families USA coalition called Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone. The diverse partners in this Alliance include the American Academy of Family Physicians, AFSCME (the largest public service employees’ union in the U.S.), the American Benefits Council (which represents employers), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), First Focus (a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization), and the Pacific Business Group on Health

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How Consumers Look At Social Determinants of Health for Cancer, Diabetes and Mental Health

Enlightened health/care industry and public policy stakeholders have begun to embrace and address social determinants of health. These are the inputs that bolster health beyond health care services: they include economic stability like job security and income level (and equity), education, and access to healthy food, food security, safe neighborhoods, social support, clean environments (water and air), and in my own update on SDoH factors, access to broadband connectivity. As physician leaders in the AMA, technology advocates from AMIA, and numerous health plans focus efforts on strengthening social determinants, what do people – consumers, patients, caregivers — think about these

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When Will Self-Service Come to Health Care?

At least one in three people who have tried out virtual health care have done so because they use technology in all aspects of life and want to do the same with their healthcare. This data point has informed my vision for self-care and the home as our health hub, bolstered in part through the research of Accenture from which this first graphic comes. A common theme at health care meetings these days is how and when health care will meet its Amazon, Apple, or Uber moment? Lately, one of my speaking topics is the “Amazon Prime-ing” of health consumers,

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The Convergence of Health/Care and Real Estate

There’s no denying the growth of telehealth, virtual visits, remote health monitoring and mHealth apps in the healthcare landscape. But these growing technologies don’t replace the role of real estate in health, wellness and medical care. Health care is a growing force in retail real estate, according to the ICSC, the acronym for the International Council of Shopping Centers, which has been spending time analyzing, in their words, “what landlords should know in eyeing tenants from a $3.5 trillion industry.” Beyond the obvious retail clinic segment, the ICSC points out a key driving growth lever for its stakeholders, recognizing that,

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Americans’ Trust in U.S. Healthcare Lags Tech — and Women Are Particularly Cynical

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer measured the biggest gap in trust for the healthcare industry between the U.S. “informed public” and the mass population. Fewer American women, too, trust the healthcare industry than men do. “This inequality of trust may be reflective of the mass population continuing to feel left behind as compared to others, even as they recognize the advances that are being made that could benefit them. Given tone and tenor of the day, and particularly among mass population, healthcare may continue to see increasing demands for change and regulation,” Susan Isenberg, Edelman’s head of healthcare, notes in

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Isn’t It Eyeconic? Vision Care in the Evolving Health Care Ecosystem

The vision/optical industry is one piece of the health/care ecosystem, but the segment has not been as directly impacted by patients’ new consumer muscles until just about now. It feels like the vision industry is at an inflection point at this moment, I intuited during yesterday’s convening of Decoding the Consumer: The new science of customer behavior, the theme of the 13th annual global leadership summit hosted by Vision Monday, a program of Jobson Medical Information which is part of the WebMD family. I was grateful to have an opportunity to share my views with attendees on the vision patient as

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“Telehealth is a digital distribution channel for health care” – catching up with Roy Schoenberg, President and CEO of American Well

Ten years ago, two brothers, physicians both, started up a telemedicine company called American Well. They launched their service first in Hawaii, where long distances and remote island living challenged the supply and demand sides of health care providers and patients alike. A decade later, I sat down for a “what’s new?” chat with Roy Schoenberg, American Well President and CEO. In full  transparency,  I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to meet with Roy (or very occasionally Ido, the co-founding brother-other-half) every year at HIMSS and sometimes at CES. In our face-to-face brainstorm this week, we covered a wide range

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Telehealth and Virtual Care Are Melting Into “Just” Health Care at HIMSS19

Just as we experienced “e-business” departments blurring into ecommerce and everyday business processes, so is “telehealth” morphing into, simply, health care delivery as one of many channels and platforms. Telehealth and virtual care are key education topics and exhibitor presences at HIMSS19. Several factors underpin the adoption of telehealth in 2019: Consumers’ demand for accessible, lower-cost health care services as people face greater financial responsibility for paying the medical bill (via high-deductible health plans and greater out-of-pocket costs for co-payments) Some consumers’ lacking or losing health insurance as ACA coverage eroded in the past two years, resulting in these patients

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Kohl’s and the Rebranded Weight Watchers in Retail Health

For the past two holiday shopping seasons in 2017 and 2018, I’d noticed pre-print ads in my local Sunday newspaper from Kohl’s, the value-priced retailer, featuring wearable technology for health. There were devices branded Fitbit on the front page of Black Friday’s 2018 ad, shown here, with other tech brands promoted inside the pages. These ads were bundled in my newspaper along with ones from Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and other retailers featuring the same or similar wearable health-tech. This week, Kohl’s announced a collaboration with WW, the newly-rebranded Weight Watchers, for the retailer to bring a WW “salon” space

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Trust in 2019 Via Edelman: The Plotline for Women and Healthcare

Fewer than one-half of consumers trust in government and media. Three-quarters trust employers, who in 2019 are the top-trusted institution according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer released last week in Davos at the World Economic Forum. Consumers in the U.S. over-index for trust in employers, with 80% of people saying they have a strong relationship with “my employer,” compared with 73% of Britons, 66% of the French, and 59% of people in Japan. What’s underneath this is employers being trusted to provide certainty: most workers look to their employer to be a trustworthy source of information about social issues and

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Calling Out Health Equity on Martin Luther King Day 2019

On this weekend as we appreciate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I post a photo of him in my hometown of Detroit in 1963, giving a preliminary version of the “I Have a Dream” speech he would deliver two months later in Washington, DC. Wisdom from the speech: “But now more than ever before, America is forced to grapple with this problem, for the shape of the world today does not afford us the luxury of an anemic democracy. The price that this nation must pay for the continued oppression and exploitation of the Negro or any other

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In U.S. Health Care, It’s Still the Prices, Stupid – But Transparency and Consumer Behavior Aren’t Working As Planned

I’m glad to be getting back to health economic issues after spending the last couple of weeks firmly focused on consumers, digital health technologies and CES 2019. There’s a lot for me to address concerning health care costs based on news and research published over the past couple of weeks. We’ll start with the centerpiece that will provide the overall context for this post: that’s the ongoing research of Gerard Anderson and colleagues under the title, It’s Still The Prices, Stupid: Why The US Spends So Much On Health Care, And A Tribute To Uwe Reinhardt. It is bittersweet to

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Shelly Palmer De-Hypes CES 2019 & Has Lessons for Health/Care

I had the pleasure once again of attending Shelly Palmer’s annual kick-off breakfast where he level-sets our expectations for CES two hours before the tech halls open. Shelly is a consumer tech expert and leads the Palmer Group; comments on Fox 5 in NYC, CNN, and CNBC; writes a weekly column in Advertising Age; composes music; and he’s a Renaissance Man who’s a generous sharer of knowledge with a great sense of humor and humanity. Shelly is one of my trusted touchpoints for all-things-consumer-tech. His message at the start of #CES2019: this year, the show is about connectivity and partnership.

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Here’s Looking at Health at CES 2019

If I’m going to spend a week someplace, it usually has to be Italy. So next week in Las Vegas, I’ll deal with that bias by staying at the Venetian Hotel for the entire week to cover all-things-health at CES 2019, the annual convening of electronics retailers and enthusiasts. Most of the 180,000+ folks come to Vegas from over 150 countries to kick the proverbial tires on TVs, autos, games, virtual reality, 3-D printing, drones, and other shiny new things. For me, for the past eight years, CES means consumer-facing health in a person’s hands, on her phone, and increasingly

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Costs, Consumerism, Cyber and Care, Everywhere – The 2019 Health Populi TrendCast

Today is Boxing Day and St. Stephens Day for people who celebrate Christmas, so I share this post as a holiday gift with well-wishes for you and those you love. The tea leaves have been brewing here at THINK-Health as we prepared our 2019 forecast at the convergence of consumers, health, and technology. Here’s our trend-weaving of 4 C’s for 2019: costs, consumerism, cyber and care, everywhere… Health care costs will continue to be a mainstream pocketbook issue for patients and caregivers, with consequences for payors, suppliers and ultimately, policymakers. Legislators inside the DC Beltway will be challenged by the

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Data Privacy and Healthcare Access: Top Issues Shaping Consumers’ Societal ROI

Organizations that address consumers’ data privacy and access to healthcare create greater social brand equity, inspiring people to say nice things about the companies, recommend them as good employers, and be welcomed as businesses operating in peoples’ community. In The Societal ROI Index: A Measure for The Times We Find Ourselves In, Finn Partners and The Harris Poll measure U.S. companies’ reputations for social good, the project’s press release explains. “Our new data shows that the public has a definite opinion about what issues they feel companies should address and the social impact bar has been set high,” according to Amy Terpeluk,

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The Venture Valkyrie’s Next AdVenture

Investor, advisor, operator, podcaster, blogger, speaker, Board member, mentor, mother, wife, volunteer. Take inventory of the many hats of Lisa Suennen, aka the Venture Valkyrie, and you understand why I see her as the Renaissance Woman of Healthcare. Ron Popeil couldn’t incorporate this many features into a contraption – yes, she slices and dices healthcare and technology, places bets on the best of them, and she deploys a whole lot more tools in her Mary Poppins-rich toolbox. Two months ago, Lisa announced she was leaving GE Ventures, where she was Senior Managing Director, to do something new. This week, she

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How Food and Data Can Support Consumers and Healthy Living: Listening at Groceryshop

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants, Michael Pollan advised us on the cover of his breakthrough book on nutrition in America, In Defense of Food.  In Las Vegas, it’s not too easy to live and eat  according to Pollan’s Food Rules. We’re at a fork in the road when it comes to food, retail grocery shopping, and health, which is an intersection I’m increasingly working in these days. The Groceryshop conference is further informing my understanding of the landscape of the technology that’s enabling the consumer’s ability to curate, purchase, and receive the food they want to satisfy hunger and

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Food and Cooking for Health: a UK Perspective from Hammersmith & Fulham

Food deserts aren’t just a U.S. phenomenon. They’re found all around the world. This week as I explore social determinants of health and technology solutions in several parts of Europe, I’ve learned more about food access challenges in the UK. These are discussed in a report published this month by the Social Market Foundation asking, What are the barriers to eating healthily in the UK?  The research was supported by Kellogg’s, the food manufacturer. The first table comes from the report, and the topline shows that about 4 in 10 Britons shopped at a cheaper food store in response to high

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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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Koen Kas, the Gardener of Health Tech Delights

The future of healthcare is not about being sick, Prof. Dr. Koen Kas believes. Having spent many years in life sciences in both research and as an entrepreneur, Koen now knows that getting and staying healthy isn’t about just developing medicines and med-tech: optimally, health requires a tincture of delight, Koen advises in his breakthrough, innovative book, Your Guide to Delight. Healthcare must go beyond traditional user-centered design, Koen’s experience has shown, and aspire toward design-to-delight. The concept of “delight” in healthcare, such as we experience in hospitality, grocery stores, and entertainment, is elusive. I’ve observed this, too, in my

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The Single Market for Healthcare in Europe: Learnings for the U.S.

When I asked my longtime colleague and friend Robert Mittman, with whom I collaborated at Institute for the Future for a decade, how he managed international travel and jet lag, he said simply, “The time zone you’re in is the time zone you’re in.” This lesson has stayed with me since I received Robert’s advice over twenty years ago. Over the next two weeks, as I work alongside colleagues and clients in the EU and soon-to-Brexit UK, I am in time zones five and six hours later than my home-base of US Eastern Time. But the time zones I’m working

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CVS + Aetna: Inflection Point in US Healthcare, Merger Approved Update

    CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna was approved this week by U.S. Federal regulators after months of scrutinizing the antitrust-size-market control implications of the deal. I wrote this post on the deal as an inflection point in American healthcare on 3rd December 2017 when CVS and Aetna announced their marriage intentions. This post updates my initial thoughts on the deal, given the morphing US healthcare market on both the traditional health services front and fast-evolving retail health environment. The nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain signed a deal to combine with one of the top three health insurance companies. The deal

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How Digital Health Can Stimulate Economic Development

It’s National Health IT Week in the US, so I’m kicking off the week with this post focused on how digital health can bolster economic development. As the only health economist in the family of the 2018 HIMSS Social Media Ambassadors, this is a voice through which I can uniquely speak. In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), less formally known as the Stimulus Bill. This was the legislation best known for addressing and helping to bring the U.S. out of the Great Recession. A lesser-known component of ARRA was Title

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The Importance of Broadband and Net Neutrality for Health, to the Last Person and the Last Mile

California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a net neutrality bill this weekend. Gov. Brown’s proverbial swipe of the pen accomplished two things: he went back to the Obama-era approach to ensure that internet service providers treat all users of the internet equally; and, he prompted the Department of Justice, representing the Trump Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to launch a lawsuit. California, home to start-ups, mature tech platform companies (like Apple, Facebook and Google), and countless digital health developers, is in a particularly strategic place to fight the FCC and, now, the Department of Justice. Nearly two dozen other states

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When Life and Health Insurance Blur: John Hancock, Behavioral Economics, and Wearable Tech

Most consumers look to every industry sector to help them engage with their health. And those companies include the insurance industry and financial services firms, we found in the 2010 Edelman Health Engagement Barometer. John Hancock, which covers about 10 million consumers across a range of products, is changing their business model for life insurance. Here’s the press release, titled, “John Hancock Leaves Traditional Life Insurance Model Behind to Incentivize Longer, Healthier Lives.” “We fundamentally believe life insurers should care about how long and well their customers live. With this decision, we are proud to become the only U.S. life insurance

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The Health Consumer Seeks Fresh, Free-From and…Turmeric

The impact of health and wellness is on most consumers’ minds, Nielsen’s consumer research has found. Sarah Schmansky, Nielsen’s strategy leader for health, wellness and “fresh,” moderated a panel at the GMDC Health-Beauty-Wellness Conference in Orlando today that brainstormed how consumers are shopping for health. Underneath that “how” is more than the next-best-me-too-product for allergy or acne. It’s about efficacy of the product at the core, but bundled with social responsibility and sustainability, informative packaging, transparency of ingredients, and education that empowers the individual. “Self-care is the driver of growth,” Sarah began the discussion. But these needs under the self-care umbrella

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Self-Care is Healthcare for Everyday People

Patients are the new healthcare payors, and as such, taking on the role of health consumers. In fact, health and wellness consumers have existed since a person purchased the first toothpaste, aspirin, heating pad, and moisturizing cream at retail. Or consulted with their neighborhood herbalista, homeopathic practitioner, therapeutic masseuse, or skin aesthetician. Today, the health and wellness consumer can DIY all of these things at home through a huge array of products available in pharmacies, supermarkets, Big Box stores, cosmetic superstores, convenience and dollar stores, and other retail channels – increasingly, online (THINK, of course, of Amazon — more on

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More U.S. Companies Offering Health Insurance After 8 Years of Decline

After eight years of decline, more U.S. employers offered health insurance to workers in 2017, EBRI reports in its latest Issue Brief. In 2017, 46.9% of U.S. companies offered health insurance to their employees, up by 1.6 percentage points from a low of 45.3% in 2016. For perspective, ten years earlier in 2008, 56.4% of employers offered health insurance, shown in the first bar chart (Figure 1 from the EBRI report). The largest percentage point increase in health plan offer-rates came from the smallest companies, those with less than 10 employees: while 21.7% of those companies offered health insurance in

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Disruption Is Healthcare’s New Normal

Googling the words “disruption” and “healthcare” today yielded 33.8 million responses, starting with “Riding the Disruption Wave in Healthcare” from Bain in Forbes, Accenture’s essay on “Big Bang Disruption in Healthcare,” and, “A Cry for Encouraging Disruption” in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst. This last article responded to the question, “Can we successfully deliver better quality care for patients at a lower cost?” asked by François de Brantes, Executive Director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. “Disruption” as a noun and an elephant in our room has been with us in healthcare since the September/October 2000 issue of

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Wealth is Health and Health, Wealth, Fidelity Knows – with Weight a Major Risk Factor

The two top stressors in American life are jobs and finances. “My weight” and my family’s health follow just behind these across the generations. Total Well-Being, a research report from Fidelity Investments, looks at the inter-connections between health and wealth – the combined impact of physical, mental, and fiscal factors on our lives. The first chart summarizes the study’s findings, including the facts that: One-third of people have less than three months of income in the bank for emergency Absenteeism is 29% greater for people who don’t have sufficient emergency funds saved People who are highly stressed tend not to

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Employers Take on Health Activism, Embracing Behavioral Health, Virtual Care, AI, and Transparency

More U.S. employers are growing activist roles as stakeholders in the healthcare system, according to the 2019 Large Employers Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey from the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Consider the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JPMorgan Chase link up between Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Jamie Dimon, as the symbol of such employer-health activism. The NBGH report is based on survey results collected from 170 large employers representing 13 million workers and 19 million covered lives (families/dependents). This annual survey is one of the most influential such reports released each year, providing a current snapshot of large employers’ views

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Healthcare’s Profits Will Be Dramatically Redistributed as Care Shifts to Consumers: Accenture

All sectors who are stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem aren’t created equal, Accenture explains in their report, Healthcare’s future winners and losers. Observing the influx of new flavors of entrants like Amazon and Google, start-ups like Iora Health, Oscar and FetchMD, begs the question: how will legacy healthcare system players fare? Who will survive, and what will be the success factors that bolster long-term viability? To answer that question, Accenture points to three market trends that set “new rules” in healthcare: Blurred lines, which are the grey areas and adjacencies between technology, service, finance, and retail The middle of nowhere,

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FANGs & MAGA – Meet WaWa for Health, Walgreens and Walmart

While Amazon and Google get lots of positive PR and media attention as major healthcare industry disruptors, don’t forget about two big “W’s,” Walgreens and Walmart, in the healthcare innovator mix. I recently read The Four in which Scott Galloway explains the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook in consumers’ everyday lives. These four tech-behemoths each have their particular designs on healthcare innovation, or disruption in the eyes of, say, Epic and Cerner working on health IT systems, or GE and IBM if you’ve been pioneers in health data or big-iron information technology. Then in the past week, the

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In This Eroding Era of Trust, Consumers Look to Doctors Above Banks and Retailers for Trusted Sharing

In this moment post-Cambridge Analytica/Facebook, the launch of the GDPR, and the everyday-ness of data breaches, consumers most trust doctors for sharing personal information. I’ve mined, through my health economic lens, the U.S. data published in the insightful report, Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks, a global research study from Axciom and the Data & Marketing Association (recently acquired by the Association of National Advertisers) working with Foresight Factory. The report compares consumers’ personal views on privacy and trust in ten countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the UK, and the US. We learn that Americans

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What the Pew Data on Americans’ Views on Technology Means for Healthcare

Most Americans say that pharmaceutical manufacturers, banks, advertisers, energy firms, and tech companies have too much power and influence in today’s American economy, according to Public Attitudes Toward Technology Companies, a research report from the Pew Research Center. A plurality of Americans says labor unions and farming and agriculture have too little power, along with a majority of people who believe that small business lacks sufficient power in the current U.S. economy. This data point is part of a larger consumer survey on Americans’ attitudes about the growing role of technology in society, particularly with respect to political and social impacts.

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Design, Empathy and Ethics Come to Healthcare: HXD

Design-thinking has come to health/care, finally, and Amy Cueva has been beating this drum for a very long time. I’m delighted to be in her collegial circle, speaking at the conference about the evolving healthcare consumer who’s financially strapped, stressed-out, and Amazon Primed for customer service. I’m blogging live while attending HXD 2018 in Cambridge, MA, the health/care design conference convened by Mad*Pow, 26th and 27th June 2018. Today was Day 1 and I want to recap my learnings and share with you. Amy, Founder and Chief Experience Office of Mad*Pow, kicked off the conference with context-setting and inspiration. Design

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Good Coffee + Engaging Design + Banking = Financial Health

As I walked by windows with Marvel-inspired superhero characters, I stopped to read their talk-bubbles: “strengthen your savings, power your financial quest, be the hero of your money, be one with your budget.” The top-line message here is that you can be your own fiscal superhero. The sign read, Capital One Cafe with Peet’s Coffee. But was it a bank branch or a cafe? I asked myself, passing by this sign yesterday morning at the corner of Walnut and 18th Streets in center city Philadelphia. It’s both, as it turned out, and when I entered I found a welcoming, beautifully

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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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How to Make Healthcare More Intelligent and Trustworthy: Accenture’s Digital Health Tech Vision 2018

“Do no harm” has been the professional and ethical mantra of physicians since the Hippocratic Oath was first uttered by medical students. The origins of that three-word objective probably came out of Hippocrates’ Corpus, which included a few additional words: “to do good or to do no harm.” The proliferation and evolution of digital technologies in health care have the potential to do good or harm, depending on their application. Doing good and abstaining from doing harm can engender trust between patients, providers, and other stakeholders in health. Trust has become a key currency in provider/patient/supplier relationships: 94% of health executives

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Health Care for a Typical Working Family of Four in America Will Cost $28,166 in 2018

What could $28,166 buy you in 2018? A new car? A year of your child’s college education? A plot of land for your retirement home? Or a year of healthcare for a family of four? Welcome to this year’s edition of the Milliman Medical Index (MMI), one of the most important forecasts of the year in the world of the Health Populi blog and THINK-Health universe. That’s because we’re in the business of thinking about the future of health and health care through the health economics lens; the MMI is a key component of our ongoing environmental analysis of the

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Universal Health Care and Financial Inclusion – Two Sides of the Wellness Coin

Two weeks in a row, The Economist, the news magazine headquartered in London, included two special reports stapled into the middle of the magazines. Universal health care was covered in a section on 28 April 2018, and coverage on financial inclusion was bundled into the 5th May edition. While The Economist’s editors may not have intended for these two reports to reinforce each other, my lens on health and healthcare immediately, and appreciatively, connected the dots between healthcare coverage and financial wellness. The Economist, not known for left-leaning political tendencies whatsoever, lays its bias down on the cover of the section here: universal healthcare

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Think Like a LEGO Builder in Healthcare – Considering PwC’s New Health Economy Vision

Expect “new combinations” of industry actors and technologies to reorganize and re-imagine healthcare, with an eye on both price and investments in customer experience (CX), PwC envisions in their latest report on The New Health Economy in the Age of Disruption. In this vision, healthcare will be a more flexible marketplace underpinned by data, platforms, and workers. Yes, it’s challenging to get from here-to-there, but PwC explains just how this can happen. Four archetypes, models, of healthcare deals have begun to emerge in the marketplace, illustrated by the Big Deals and announcements reshaping the industry in the past couple of years:

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Pharma Spending Gone Bipolar: Generics At One End, Specialty Drugs on the Other

While the use of medicines continues to rise in the U.S., spending grew by only 0.6% in 2017 after accounting for discounts and rebates. In retail and mail-order channels, net spending fell by 2.1%. Prescription drug spending on branded products grew nearly $5 billion less than in 2016; generic drug spending fell by $5.5 billion, according to Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S., a report from the IQVIA Institute for Health Data Science. The report reviews medicines spending in 2017 looking forward to 2022. There were over 5.8 billion prescriptions dispensed in 2017, and generic drugs accounted 90% of

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Healthcare Companies’ Reputations Go North While All Other Industries’ Reps Fall; and, A Lesson from Campbell’s Soup

Healthcare has a reputation halo in the eyes of U.S. consumers, who ranked the sector as the only industry whose reputations rose between 2017 and 2018. But consumers separate the pharma industry from healthcare: prescription drug manufacturers’ reputation took the second-largest fall, just behind the airline industry. Pharma and airlines were the lowest-ranked industries, along with telecomms and energy. The Reputation Institute has published its annual 2018 US RepTrak Industry Rankings, finding that all industries but healthcare took negative hits on reputation from 2017 to 2018. The study asks consumers to rate the most reputable companies in their daily lives.

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Food as Medicine Update: Danone Goes B-Corp, Once Upon a Farm Garners Garner, and Livongo Buys Retrofit

As the nation battles an obesity epidemic that adds $$ costs to U.S. national health spending, there are many opportunities to address this impactful social determinant of health to reduce health spending per person and to drive public and individual health. In this post, I examine a few very current events in the food-as-medicine marketspace. Big Food as an industry gets a bad rap, as Big Tobacco and Big Oil have had. In the case of Big Food, the public health critique points to processed foods, those of high sugar content (especially when cleverly marketed to children), and sustainability. But

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How Walmart Could Bolster Healthcare in the Community

Walmart has been a health/care destination for many years. The company that defined Big Box stores in their infancy grew in healthcare, health and wellness over the past two decades, pioneering the $4 generic prescription back in 2006. Today, that low-cost generic Rx is ubiquitous in the retail pharmacy. A decade later, can Walmart re-imagine primary care the way the company did low-cost medicines? Walmart is enhancing about 500 of 3500 stores, and health will be part of the interior redecorating. Walmart has had ambitious plans in healthcare since those $4 Rx’s were introduced. Here’s a New York Times article from

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What Would Healthcare Feel Like If It Acted Like Supermarkets – the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings

U.S. consumers rank supermarkets, fast food chains, retailers, and banks as their top performing industries for experience according to the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings. Peoples’ experience with health plans rank at the bottom of the roster, on par with rental cars and TV/Internet service providers. If there is any good news for health plans in this year’s Temkin Experience Ratings compared to the 2017 results, it’s at the margin of “very poor” performance: last year, health plans has the worst performance of any industry (with the bar to the furthest point on the left as “low scoring”). This year, it

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Healthcare Access and Cost Top Americans’ Concerns in Latest Gallup Poll

Healthcare — availability and affordability — is a more intense worry for Americans in March 2018 than crime and violence, Federal spending, guns, drug use, and hunger and homelessness. The Gallup Poll, fielded in the first week of March 2018, found that peoples’ overall economic and employment concerns are on the decline since 2010, at the height of the Great Recession which began in 2008. While 70% of Americans were worried about economic matters in 2010, only 34% of people in the U.S. were worried about the economy, and 23% about unemployment, in March 2018. Gallup has asked this “worry”

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Will People Enrolled in Medicaid Want to Be Amazon Prime’d?

Amazon is planning to extend Prime subscriptions to people enrolled in Medicaid for the discount price of $5.99 a month instead of the recent price increase to $12.99/month or $99 a year. The $5.99 a month calculates to a 27% break on the annual Prime membership cost. Medicaid enrollees who want to take advantage of the deal must provide Amazon with a scan or image of the card they use for their benefit (either Medicaid or EBT). These consumers can enroll annually, for a maximum of four years. Here’s what the Seattle Times, Amazon’s hometown newspaper, said about the program.

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Tweets at Lunch with Paul Krugman – Health IT Meets Economics

            I greatly appreciated the opportunity today to attend a luncheon at the HX360 meeting which convened as part of the 2018 HIMSS Conference. The speaker at this event was Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics 10 years ago and today is an iconic op-ed columnist at the New York Times And Distinguished Professor of Economics at the City University of New York (CUNY). I admit to being a bit of a groupie for Paul Krugman’s work. It tickles me to look at Rise Global’s list of the Top 100 Influential Economists:

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