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Pope Francis is a Public Health Advocate

“The world today is mostly deaf,” the Pontiff observes in Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, Wim Wenders’ documentary on this religious leader who likes to quote Dostoevsky, joke about mothers-in-law, and advocate for the sick, the poor, the disenfranchised, and Planet Earth. He is, I realized while watching this film and hearing this man of words, a public health advocate. Throughout the film, we see clips of Pope Francis washing the feet of prisoners in Philadelphia, comforting dying children in a pediatric clinic in central Africa, and speaking out to the U.S. Congress about the dangers of climate

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The Healthiest Communities Are Built on Education, Good Food, Mindfulness, and the Power of Love

Be the change you wish to see in the world, Gandhi has been attributed as saying. This sentiment was echoed by Lauren Singer as we brainstormed the social determinants of health and the factors that underpin healthy communities. Our Facebook Live session was convened by the Aetna Foundation, which sponsored research on the Healthiest Communities in 2018.  In addition to Lauren, founder of Trash Is For Tossers, Dr. Garth Graham, President of the Aetna Foundation, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA, and I joined the quartet, moderated with panache and sensitivity by Mark J. Ellwood, journalist. Each

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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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Using Design to Liberate Healthcare; Learning from Dr. Andrew Chacko and Tan Le

This is the second post of three written to summarize what I learned participating in Medecision’s annual meeting with the company’s partners, held March 27-29, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, TX.  I concluded the first of this three-part series with Dr. Don Rucker’s belief that, “Patients are the massive use-case for interoperability.” This second post focuses on the key role of designing for healthcare – for patients, caregivers, providers, all industry sector workers indeed. And designing information to make it beautiful, useable, meaningful. You’ll read about Renaissance Man/Doctor Andrew Chacko MD, a board-certified physician, French and Physics student at the Naval

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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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Healthcare EveryWhere: Philips and American Well Streamline Telehealth

Two mature companies in their respective healthcare spaces came together earlier this month to extend healthcare services where patients live and doctors work, via telehealth services. Philips, celebrating 127 years in business this year, has gone all-in on digital health across the continuum of care, from prevention and healthy living to the ICU and hospital emergency department. American Well is among the longest operating telehealth companies, founded in 2006. Together, these two established organizations will transcend physician offices and ERs and deliver virtual care in and beyond the U.S. I had the opportunity to sit down with Ido Schoenberg, MD,

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What A Duck Can Teach Us at CES 2018

We’re spending more time at CES 2018 calling out the societal and health impacts of technologies, especially for children and under-served people. How surprised and delighted I am to find a positive, enchanting impact at the convergence of kids and tech…from a duck. When I say “duck,” there are a few images that probably swim up in your mind’s eye: Donald, Daisy, Daffy, Howard, Darkwing, and the brand-famous Aflac Duck (who has his own Twitter handle @AflacDuck). It’s this last-named web-footed feathered friend who is a major star here at CES 2018 in the persona of My Special Aflac Duck.

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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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Support for the Affordable Care Act the Highest Since Passage

Americans’ approval of the Affordable Care Act reached its apex in December 2017, the Pew Research Center found. The proportion of people approving the ACA has been growing since the middle of 2016, now at 56% of the public. The timing of this survey, conducted at the end of November and first few days of December 2017, coincides with Congress’s arm-wrestling a tax bill that would eliminate the individual mandate for health insurance which is an ACA building block for universal coverage in the United States. Most people in the U.S. also believe that the ACA has had a positive

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Six Healthcare News Stories to Keep Hospital CFOs Up At Night

At this moment, the healthcare job I’d least like to have is that of a non-profit hospital Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Five news stories, published in the past 24 hours, tell the tale: First, Moody’s forecast for non-profit hospitals and healthcare in 2018 is negative due to reimbursement and expense pressures. The investors report cited an expected contraction in cash flow, lower reimbursement rates, and rising expense pressures in the midst of rising bad debt. Second, three-quarters of Federally Qualified Health Centers plan to lay off staff given lack of budget allocations resulting from Congressional inaction. Furthermore, if the $3.6

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In the Post-Weinstein Era, How to Market Health to Women: Philips, Kalenji, and Libresse Getting It Right

“With Mad Men still in charge, ad campaigns miss the mark,” an editorial published this week in the Financial Times asserts. Leave it to a fiscally conservative British publication to be spot-on about a particularly, but not uniquely, American challenge, in this post-Weinstein (Miramax), -Price (Amazon), and today, -Halperin (MSNBC) moment of sexual harassment revelations. In health/care, women are key consumers, buyers and influencers, yet under-represented in the Mad Men demographic of senior advertising executives, as the data-driven FT essay points out. So it’s especially heartening to find this month a few examples of empowering, inspiring ad campaigns getting health/care marketing

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

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

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Valuing Children = Valuing Health: Learning From Florence, Italy

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

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A Baby Onesie Teaches CPR – How A Grocer & Ambulance Company Come Together for Health

Here’s a new definition of “wearable” that’s Old School stuff: a baby onesie. But this onesie doesn’t just look cute and keep baby’s bum warm. The onesie helps teach caregivers baby CPR. This health education project was sponsored by Tesco in collaboration with St. John Ambulance, one of the largest health charities in the United Kingdom. Tesco ranks among the biggest retailers in the world (after Walmart, Costco, Kroger, and Lidl), operating in the UK, Ireland, Asia and Europe. Watch this video and get charmed by adorable, telegenic Baby Lucy – your CPR model. Tesco held live CPR classes at over

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What EpiPen Pricing and Parents Teach Us About Social Media In Health

Mylan, the marketer of the EpiPen, dropped the price by 50% this week. This response was due in large part to pressure that outraged parents’ call-outs on social media put on the company. Tara Parker-Pope in the NY Times Well blog pointed this out in her column, How Parents Harnessed the Power of Social Media to Challenge EpiPen Prices. Online petitions, patient and parent social networks, and patient activists’ ability to leverage social media are the new tools of health and patient engagement. EpiPen is a must-have medicine for people who deal with serious allergy and asthma conditions, many of

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Digitizing Self-Healthcare with Google, Pfizer, Under Armour, Walgreens and WebMD

How can digital technologies enable self-healthcare in novel ways? This was the theme of a meeting sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and hosted by Google, with the title, “Advancing Consumer Health through New Technology and Next Generation OTC Healthcare” held on 12th April 2016 at Google offices in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Pharmaceutical brand drugs switching to over-the-counter packaged goods, the Cellscope Otoscope used by parents checking their young children’s earaches, connected shoes and earbuds for athletic enhancement, and omni-channel retail shopping….these are a few of the signals we see emerging to enable consumers’ to drive healthy behaviors, wellness and self-healthcare. Speakers

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Happy 1st Anniversary to CVS Going Tobacco-Free

CVS quit selling cigarettes and tobacco products in 2014, made $139 bn, and saved 65,000 lives. That’s the best kind of retail health there is. It’s been a year since CVS quit selling cigarettes, I’m reminded by a one-page ad in today’s Wall Street Journal on page B5. This is a big investment in an ad for a business strategy that’s had a huge return-on-investment. The ad reads: “One year ago, we took a deep breath and quit selling cigarettes in our pharmacies. Now we’re working to create a tobacco-free world. We just want to help everyone, everywhere, breathe easier,”

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All women are health workers

The spiritual and emotional top the physical in women’s definition of “health,” based on a multi-country survey conducted in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S. The Power of the Purse, a research project sponsored by the Center for Talent Innovation, underscores women’s primary role as Chief Medical Officers in their families and social networks. The research was sponsored by health industry leaders including Aetna, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardinal Health, Eli Lilly and Company, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, MetLife, Pfizer, PwC, Strategy&, Teva, and WPP. The study’s summary infographic is titled How the Healthcare Industry Fails

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Moms are the most important social determinant of health

It’s Mother’s Day 2015, so it’s time to praise moms and their role in making health: in their families, in their communities, and long-overlooked, for themselves. Mothers play a defining role in driving health in the world. Moms may be the most important social determinant of health. The National Partnership for Women & Families advocates for the role of women in building a healthy society, broadly defined. From the womb via the Childbirth Connection and Reproductive Health through economic security (such as fair wages and paid maternity leave) and women’s ability to access health information on behalf of their families and themselves,

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Fish oil and yoga are the most-used alternative “medicines”

1 in 3 U.S. adults used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the U.S. in 2012, led by fish oil in the herbal supplements category, and yoga in the services category. While use of complementary products and services in health has remained unchanged at about 34% of Americans using CAM, the adoption of yoga in American life has doubled among adults in the past decade to about 1 in 10 adults doing some form of yoga. The report, the Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S., a National Health Interview Survey conducted for the National Center for

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Left Swipe Dat – this is how health messaging is done

In our ADHD-addled, over-messaged and noisy world, it’s hard to break through the media clutter and binge-watching to get a health message out. Here’s the way it’s done: an engaging, humorous, impactful and crisp campaign focusing on making smoking so un-sexy and un-cool, you swipe the prospective date off of your Tinder app. Watch and learn, from The Truth. You can follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #LeftSwipeDat. Kudos to the truth® anti-smoking campaign and the creative team who got this blend of message and medium so right. truth® is part of the Legacy project which is funded by the

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Women are natural disruptors for health

“Disruption” is a well-used word these days in business and, in the past few years, in the health care business. That’s because there’s a general consensus that the U.S. health care system is broken. “System” is a word that I shouldn’t use as my friend J.D. Kleinke smartly argued that it’s that lack of system-ness that makes using the phrase “health care system” an Oxymoron. The fragmented health care environment creates innumerable pain points when accessing, receiving, and paying for services. And it’s women who feel so much of that pain. In that context, I’m gratified and humbled to be one

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Women-centered design and mobile health: heads-up, 2014 mHealth Summit

This post is written as part of the Disruptive Women on Health’s blog-fest celebrating the 2014 mHealth Summit taking place 7-11 December 2014 in greater Washington, DC. Women and mobile health: let’s unpack the intersection. On the supply side of the equation, Good Housekeeping covered health tracking-meets-fashion bling in the magazine a few weeks ago in article tucked between how to cook healthy Thanksgiving side dishes and tips on getting red wine stains out of tablecloths. This ad appeared in a major sporting goods chain’s 2014 Black Friday pre-print in my city’s newspaper last week. And along with consumer electronics brand faves like

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Stress Is US

“Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it,” Lily Tomlin once quipped. Perhaps in 2014, America is the land of stress because we’re all so in touch with reality. THINK: reality TV, social networks as the new confessional, news channeling 24×7, and a world of too much TMI. So no surprise, then, that one-half of the people in the U.S. have had a major stressful event or experience in the last year. And health tops the list of stressful events in This American Life in the forms of illness and disease (among 27% of people)

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Practice Fusion joins the open health data community with Insight

Open data is a growing trend in health care. Analyzing data sets across lots and lots of people can help researchers identify medical cures, anticipate epidemics, and solve knotty problems where social and behavioral issues complicate clinical questions and solutions. Joining the open health data community is the health IT company Practice Fusion, which is sharing with the public aggregated data on some 81 million patients collected through over 100,000 active users every month recording patient data in the company’s cloud-based electronic health records system. Insight, the searchable database, is freely available to people, researchers, policymakers, and anyone who wants to look at top line

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My Healthy Valentine: socialize health with your loved ones

Today, Valentine’s Day, is full of the signs of love. I’ve gotten several hugs and “I love you’s” from my daughter (a teenager – how fortunate am I?!); my husband returned home from a business trip in inclement weather, in time to share a romantic evening; my Facebook page has countless hugs and loving messages from friends near and far; and, I received real paper Valentine cards, old school style. But the best healthy Valentine gift I got was that my husband went for a check-up with his doctor, my daughter ate a great big breakfast before she went to

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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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A tale of vaccines, public school, and family medical rights

This is a personal post about a very personal idea: medical rights and freedom of choice. When it has to do with your child, especially when she is a minor, then it’s ever-the-more personal. I have permission to use my daughter’s name, Anna, for this post. Anna’s public high school hosted a flu vaccine clinic this week. As I believe and live the mantra that health is where we live, work, play and pray — that health is not locked up isolated in a doctor’s office or hospital bed — I embrace the role that schools can play to bolster

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Gettin’ higi with it: Lupe Fiasco’s foray into public health

The latest in SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile) Health is a gamified tool coupled with a hardware kiosk, known as higi. The brainchild of Michael Ferro, a successful dotcom entrepreneur who now owns the Chicago Sun-Times, higi’s mission is to help people – particularly younger peeps – to take better care of themselves by scoring points and, as a result, social connections. Higi’s an African word for origin, so the health tool has some aspects relating to being in a tribe — a kind of health tribe. It also has a fun sound to it, Ferro noted, which sets the vibe

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Bill Clinton’s public health, cost-bending message thrills health IT folks at HIMSS

In 2010, the folks who supported health care reform were massacred by the polls, Bill Clinton told a rapt audience of thousands at HIMSS13 yesterday. In 2012, the folks who were against health care reform were similarly rejected. President Clinton gave the keynote speech at the annual HIMSS conference on March 6, 2013, and by the spillover, standing-room-only crowd in the largest hall at the New Orleans Convention Center, Clinton was a rock star. Proof: with still nearly an hour to go before his 1 pm speech, the auditorium was already full with only a few seats left in the

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Lower calories are good business

The restaurant chain business employs 10% of U.S. workers and accounts for $660 bn worth of the national economy. Where restaurant chains are growing fastest is in serving up lower-calorie meals, and it’s been a boon to the bottom-line. The case for lower calories leading to better business is made in Lower-Calorie Foods: It’s Just Good Business from the Hudson Institute‘s Obesity Solutions Initiative, published February 2013. In the report, researchers analyzed nitty-gritty restaurant chain data on servings and traffic from 2006-2011 to sort out whether sales of so-called lower-calorie menu items in 21 chains led to improved business. The chains

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We are all health deputies in the #digitalhealth era: live from the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show

Reed Tuckson of UnitedHealthGroup was the first panelist to speak at the kickoff of the Digital Health Summit, the fastest-growing aspct of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (#2013CES). Tuckson implored the spillover audience to all, “self-deputize as national service agents in health,” recognizing that technology developers in the room at this show that’s focused on developers building Shiny New Digital Things have much to bring to health. As Andrew Thompson of Proteus Medical (the “invisible pill” company) said, “we can’t bend the health care cost curve; we have to break it.” This pioneering panel was all about offering new-new technologies

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Nurses, pharmacists and doctors rank top in honesty, says Gallup poll

  Nurses, pharmacists and doctors rank tops with Americans when it comes to honesty and ethics. Most people also rate engineers, dentists, police officers, clergy and college teachers as high on honesty metrics. Lawmakers (THINK: Congress) and car salesman fall to the bottom of the honesty-and-trust roster, who only 1 in 10 Americans believe act with honesty and integrity. Other low-ranking professions on this list are HMO managers, stockbrokers, and folks in the advertising business. Welcome to this year’s Gallup Poll on consumers’ perceptions of honesty and ethics in 22 professions in the U.S. Gallup measures six health care professions

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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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What Jerry the Bear means for Health 2.0

A teddy bear in the arms of a child with diabetes can change health care. At least, Jerry the Bear can. Yesterday kicked off the sixth autumn mega-version of the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Co-founded by Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, a long-time health analyst and physician, respectively, this meeting features new-new tools, apps and devices aimed at improving individual and population health, as well as health processes and workflows for physicians, hospitals, pharma, and other stakeholders in the health care ecosystem – even health lawyers, who met on October 7 to discuss up-to-the-minute  e-health law issues. Yesterday was

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Health and Digital Moms – getting underneath the hood of the Mobile Mom

Mom is the Chief Health Officer of her family, she’s mobile, and seeking health information and community on-the-go. But underneath the persona of the Mobile Mom, she’s consuming information and sharing perspectives on many other ‘screens,’ too. And that’s the challenge for marketers seeking to grab the attention of this key player in the health ecosystem. There are new survey data from Enspektos‘s report, Digging Beneath the Surface: Understanding the Digital Health Mom, that are must-reading for health industry stakeholders who seek to motivate health behaviors among women, who are at once nurturing wellness, caregiving for sick people, and sharing

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A $132 doctor’s visit in Hanoi, Vietnam: a diagnosis, value-based health care and a new friend

$132 won’t go far in a U.S. emergency room, but in Vietnam, it gets you first class treatment, a highly-trained and empathetic French doctor, and cheap prescriptions, as well. You could call it Presidential treatment, as a certificate from the White House was proudly displayed in the lobby waiting area sent in appreciation of great care received by President George W. Bush. After arriving in Hanoi two nights ago, following three airline flights over nearly 24 hours, our daughter developed a rough cough that gave her chest pains. We gave the condition one day to improve and then spoke with

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Why a Foundation and the Federal Reserve are working together to improve health in the U.S.

Health philanthropies are about more than making grants. The Robert Wood Johnson Association, among the largest health philanthropic organizations in the world, is partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) on how community development impacts health — and vice versa. You cannot have a healthy community without focusing on housing, schools, and other neighborhood stakeholders, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey told the conference on Healthy Communities: Building Systems to Integrate Community Development and Health. In this context, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey quoted Robert Kennedy who said, “The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or

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