GNC Offers “Free Healthcare” — Telehealth, Generic Meds, and Loyalty in the Retail Health Ecosystem

The retail health landscape continues to grow, now with GNC Health offering a new program featuring telehealth and  “curated set” of 40+ generic prescription drugs commonly used in urgent care settings.             The services are available to members of GNC’s new-and-improved loyalty program, GNC PRO Access, which is priced at a fixed fee of $39.99 for one year’s membership. This is available to consumers 18 years of age and older. “As a trusted brand in the health and wellness space, we are thrilled to expand our efforts in helping our customers Live Well by offering


Wellness in 2023 Is About Connections, Mental Health and Science – Global Wellness Summit’s 2023 Trends

Consumers’ wellness life-flows and demands in 2023 will go well beyond exercise resolutions, eating more greens, and intermittent fasting as a foodstyle. It’s time for us to get the annual update on health consumers from the multi-faceted team who curated the Global Wellness Summit’s annual report on The Future of Wellness 2023 Trends.                   In this year’s look into wellness for the next few years, we see that health-oriented consumers are seeking solutions for dealing with loneliness and mental health, weight and hydration, travel-as-medicine as health destinations, and — not surprisingly —


The 3 A’s That Millennials Want From Healthcare: Affordability, Accessibility, Availability

With lower expectations of and satisfaction with health care, Millennials in America seek three things: available, accessible, and affordable services, research from the Transamerica Center for Health Studies has found. Far and away the top reason for not obtaining health insurance in 2018 was that it was simply too expensive, cited by 60% of Millennials. Following that, 26% of Millennials noted that paying the tax penalty plus personal medical expenses were, together, less expensive than available health options. While Millennials were least likely to visit a doctor’s office in the past year, they had the most likelihood of making a


Physicians Don’t Talk Enough with Patients About Non-Medical Needs

Most patients wish their doctors would have a conversation with them about non-medical issues. The Doctor-Patient Conversation, a survey conducted for the Samueli Foundation by the Harris Poll, examined how patients feel about their health, healthcare, and relationships with physicians. The Samueli Institute, has several missions including integrative health with a focuses on evidence-based practices for healing, wellbeing and resilience. Patients are keen to learn about non-medication alternatives, like food-as-medicine, meditation, and acupuncture. But most doctors base their conversations with patients on purely medical options like lab test results and surgical procedures. The top issues doctors discuss with patients are


More People Using Meditation and Yoga as Medicine, Especially Women

While overall adoption of meditation and yoga in the U.S. substantially grew between 2012 and 2017, many more women than men use these holistic medicine approaches. In 2017, 14.3% of American adults 18 and over did yoga, 14.2% meditated, and 10.3% saw a chiropractor. Use of meditation grew over 300% over the five years, and use of yoga by 50%. Using a chiropractor marginally rose by 10%. The growth of complementary and alternative medicine (aka holistic medicine) is tracked by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control. These data come out of the NCHS’s


On World Food Day 2018, Imagine A Chef Cooking for Patients

Today, October 16, is World Food Day. At Health Populi and THINK-Health, we celebrate the birthday of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), allied with the United Nations. FAO was founded to address malnutrition and bolster a sustainable, healthy food supply for people. World Food Day 2018 has four objectives: Don’t waste food Produce more food with fewer resources Advocate for #ZeroHunger by 2030, and, Adopt a healthier, more sustainable diet. All four of these pillars play a role in health, but I’ll focus today on the fourth: the role of food as a major social determinant of health. Hunger


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


The Pharmacy as Herbalist – An Italian Prescription

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


Stress Is A Social Determinant of Health – Money and Politics Top the List in 2017

The American Psychological Association reports that Americans are experiencing greater levels of stress in 2017 for the first time since initiating the Stress in America Survey ten years ago in 2007. This is a statistically significant finding, APA calculated. The member psychologists of the American Psychological Association (APA) began to report that patients were coming to appointments increasingly anxious about the 2016 Presidential election. So the APA polled U.S. adults on politics for the first time in ten years of conducting the Stress in America survey. Two-thirds of Americans are stressed and/or anxious about the future of the nation, and


The Patient Is The Best Sensor – Consumers At the Center of Health

“The patient is the best sensor,” asserted Jamie Heywood, founder of Patients Like Me, during the perennial meeting sponsored by PwC, the 180° Health Forum. This event featured several panels of PwC’s curated group of so-called “provocateurs” in healthcare, and I was grateful to be one of nine selected for the event. Heywood joined Dr. Leanna Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, and me in a panel called, “Strange Bedfellows or Soul Mates? The New Dating Game in Health.” The theme of our collective brainstorm was how collaborations across the ecosystem could help make health and healthcare better. The drawing is


Medical Tourism On A Cruise Ship

Health is everywhere: where we live, work, play, and learn, as I’ve often written here on Health Populi. While I’ve also analyzed the market for medical tourism over the past twenty years, this week I’ve learned that it extends to the cruise travel industry along with hospitals and clinics around the world. I had the pleasure of meeting up this week with Hannah Jean Taylor, Manager of the Mandara Spa on Norwegian Cruise Line‘s ship, The Norwegian Breakaway. This vessel accommodates nearly 4,000 passengers who enjoy the services of over 1,600 staff members in the hotel, entertainment, and operational crews.


Finding Affordable Care In a Deductible World: The Growing Role of Alternative Therapies

Faced with the increasing financial responsibility for healthcare payments, and a desire to manage pain and disease via “natural” approaches, more U.S. consumers are seeking and paying for non-conventional or naturopathic therapies — complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Health and Healing in America, The Harris Poll conducted among U.S. adults, learned that two in three Americans see alternative therapies as safe and effective. 1 in 2 people see alternative therapies as reliable. And most people believe that some of these treatments, like chiropractic and massage therapy, should be reimbursed by health insurance companies. Seven in 10 Americans have used alternative


Health is where we live, work, and shop…at Walgreens

Alex Gourley, President of The Walgreen Company, addressed the capacity crowd at HIMSS15 in Chicago on 13th April 2015, saying his company’s goal is to “make good health easier.” Remember that HIMSS is the “Health Information and Management Systems Society” — in short, the mammoth health IT conference that this year has attracted over 41,000 health computerfolk from around the world. So what’s a nice pharmacy like you, Walgreens, doing in a Place like McCormick amidst 1,200+ health/tech vendors?  If you believe that health is a product of lifstyle behaviors at least as much as health “care” services (what our


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


Color us stressed – how to deal

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


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


Taking vitamins can save money and impact the U.S. economy – and personal health

When certain people use certain dietary supplements, they can  save money, according to a report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition and Frost and Sullivan, the analysts. The report is aptly titled, Smart Prevention – Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements. Its subtitle emphasizes the role of dietary supplements as a way to “combat unsustainable health care cost growth in the United States.” Specifically, the use of eight supplements in targeted individuals who can most benefit from them can save individuals and health systems billions of dollars. The eight money-saving supplements are: > Omega-3 > B


Healthways buys into Dr. Ornish’s approach: will “Ornish-inside” scale wellness in America?

People who live in U.S. cities with low levels of well-being have twice the rate of heart attacks as people who live in healthier America. That’s 5.5% of the population in sicker America versus 2.8% of the population living in healthy America. The first chart illustrates this disparity, taken from the Gallup-Healthways index that examined 190 metropolitan areas in 2012. Based on this study, it’s good to live in parts of Utah, Nebraska and Colorado, but not so healthy to be a resident in West Virginia, Alabama, and parts of Kentucky and Ohio. Heart disease and diabetes are killing a plurality


Marketing Digital Health to Mom 2.0 on Mother’s Day 2013

Mainstream media, both print and online, peppered their 2013 Mother’s Day gift suggestions including pod coffeemakers, bangle bracelets, candy-colored accessories and digital health devices. Say, what? In Parade magazine, Mother’s Day 2013 gift ideas included the Fitbit “smart pedometer,” linked to a “buy” site at REI. You can’t get much more mainstream than Parade. In Entertainment Weekly, Bronwyn Barnes, style maven for the magazine, wrote a one-page “Get Ready for Mom 2.0” and her recommendations included the Pebble Smartwatch, the Jawbone Up wristband, and the HoodieBuddie with earbuds built into the drawstrings. Men’s Health told sons and husbands to check


Dietitians provide a health bridge between food and pharmacy

The registered dietitian is an in-demand labor resource for grocery stores around the U.S. Advertising Age covered the phenomenon of the growing clout of dietitians in food chains (April 14, 2013). Let’s dig further into this phenomenon through the Health Populi lens on healthcareDIY and peoples’ ability to bend their personal health care cost curves. Stores such as Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Safeway and Wegmans are morphing into wellness destinations, with pharmacies and natural food aisles taking up valuable square footage to meet consumers’ growing demands for healthy choices. Some stores are formalizing their approach to food = health by formulating a


Food = Health for employers, hospitals, health plans and consumers

Food is inextricably bound up with health whether we are well or not. Several key area of the Food=Health ecosystem made the news this week which, together, will impact public and personal health. On the employer health benefits front, more media are covering the story on CVS strongly incentivizing employees to drop body mass index (BMI) through behavioral economics-inspired health plan design of a $50 peer month penalty. Michelin, whose bulky advertising icon Bibendum has more than one “spare tire,” introduced a program to combat health issues, including but not limited to BMI and high blood pressure, according to the


1 in 5 US consumers asks a doctor for a lower-cost Rx

  With U.S. health consumers spending $45 billion out-of-pocket for prescription drugs in 2011, pharmaceutical products are morphing into retail health products. As such, as they do with any other consumer good, consumers can vote with their feet by walking away from a product purchase or making the spend based on the price of the product and its attributes, along with whether there are substitutes available in the marketplace. When it comes to prescription drugs, it’s not as clear-cut, according to the Centers for Disease Control‘s analysis of data from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey titled Strategies Used by


Health and consumer spending may be flat, but consumers hard hit due to wage stagnation & self-rationing

There’s good news on the macro-health economics front: the growth rate in national health spending in the U.S. fell in 2011, according to an analysis published in Health Affairs January 2013 issue. Furthermore, this study found that consumers’ spending on health has fallen to 27.7% of health spending, down from 32% in 2000, based on three spending categories: 1. Insurance premiums through the workplace or self-paid 2. Out-of-pocket deductibles and co-pays 3. Medicare payroll taxes. A key factor driving down health spending is the growth of generic drug substitution for more expensive Rx brands. Generics now comprise 80% of prescribed


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


Food and health: information is not doing the job as the U.S. continues its obesity march

Notwithstanding the fact that most phones on U.S. streets are “smart” ones, most adults surf the net for health information, and most people try to change a health habit each year, Americans haven’t adopted healthier long-term relationships with food. The International Food Information Council has conducted the Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food, Safety, Nutrition & Health poll since 2006, thus enabling us to track peoples’ attitudes and behaviors over the past several years. The latest polling results appear in Is it Time to Rethink Nutrition Communications? A 5-Year Retrospective of Americans’ Attitude toward Food, Nutrition, and Health online in


Free statins at the grocery: retail health update

I spotted this sign yesterday at my local Wegmans, the family-owned grocery chain founded in upstate NY and growing down the northeast corridor of the U.S. Many months ago, a similar sign promoted “free antibiotics” at the store. What does a grocery chain’s pharmacy doling out “Free” [asterisked] generic Lipitor mean to the larger health ecosystem? On the upside, health is where we live, work, play and pray, as Dr. Regina Benjamin, the Surgeon General, has said. This has become a mantra for us at THINK-Health, and regular Health Populi readers may be tiring of my repeated use of this


Our social network schizophrenia: how “reluctant individualism” impacts health care

While 2 in 3 U.S. adults are active on social media, we are skeptical about trustworthiness of the content we find there. Welcome to the 13th quarterly Heartland Monitor Poll from Allstate and National Journal, surveying how U.S. adults look at social media, trust, and the political future of the nation. The Poll surveyed, by landline and cell phone, 1,000 U.S. adults over 18 in May 2012. The most common social network used is Facebook, among 51% of U.S. adults, followed by Google+ (28%), Twitter (13%), LinkedIn (12%), Pinterest (6%), and MySpace (5%). While Americans are drawn to using social


Leverage the American DIY attitude for health

As I leave Asia, where I’ve been for the past two weeks, for the U.S. today, I am reading the daily newspaper, the Korea Joongang News. On today’s op-Ed age is The Fountain column titled, Embracing the do-it-yourself attitude. In it, Lee Na-ree writes, “Making something with your own hands is part of the American pioneer spirit.” He describes the Maker Faire events and the project of Caine’s Arcade, a game developed by a Los Angeles boy who used auto parts from his dad’s shop. Na-ree observes that Americans are ‘regretting’ mass consumption. Health Populi’s Hot Points: I happened upon


Wellness and the global health citizen – carrying our own doctors, inside

Every patient carries her or his doctor inside, said the great Renaissance man, Albert Schweitzer. Based on Euro RSCG Worldwide’s Prosumer Report – My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times, health citizens globally have begun to take on Dr. Schweitzer’s vision. Clement Boisseau of Euro RSCG points out that people, globally, are fairly schizophrenic when it comes to thinking about empowerment over illness: check out the chart for perceptions by condition and disease state. Boisseau says that people perceive health today both in modern terms (such as feeling empowered to control some conditions), and archaic or “magically


Patient perspectives should be part of evidence-based medicine, Dr. Weil et al say

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been the rational cornerstone of medical decision making for decades. RCTs demonstrate a drug or therapeutic course’s efficacy – that is, the extent to which a specific intervention, procedure, or regimen produces a beneficial result under ideal conditions. Of course, how a particular therapy works in an individual is highly personalized based not only on a body’s biochemistry, but personal preferences, perceptions, and personality. That’s why Dr. Andrew Weil and his colleagues, Dr. Scott Shannon and Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, say that medical decision making should take into account the patient perspective. In Medical Decision Making in


Wellness is the new health benefit (a double entendre)

Wellness and disease prevention were the meta-themes at Health 2.0’s Spring Fling held earlier this week in San Diego. where the discussions, technology demonstrations, and keynote speakers were all-health (as opposed to health care), all-the-time. Dr. Dean Ornish told the attendees in the standing-room-only ballroom space that the joy of living is a greater motivator than the fear of death. And the 1.0 version of managing health risks has been more the latter than the former. As a result, Ornish’s two decades of research have shown that health is more a function of lifestyle choices than it is drugs and surgery. In fact, people have


Health consumers spend more out-of-pocket than the Federal government counts

Consumers have  been shell-shocked with health care costs — an increasing proportion of household spending in the U.S. This is true for the increasing costs consumers bear in the traditional health system. However, consumers are continuing to spend discretionary income on non-traditional health services such as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers and products, along with vitamins/minerals/supplements and weight loss regimes. With increasing health cost burdens on households, those householders have less money to allocate to other aspects of life. In particular, growing medical costs have translated into greater credit problems for American consumers, according to The hidden costs of


Functional foods play a role in consumer-driven health care

Americans spend nearly $30 billion on functional foods, according to Leveraging growth in the emerging functional foods industry, from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Functional foods are those that contain supplements beyond food that’s consumed for basic nutrition. They incorporate additional ingredients that target specific health benefits. PwC believes that the U.S. represents the largest functional foods market in the world, up to one-half of global sales. 20 companies account for 70% of the U.S. market. Many of these names are very familiar, such as PepsiCo (with Gatorade and Quaker), Coca-Cola (Vitamin Water and Odwalla), General Mills (Cheerios and Yoplait), Kellogg (Kashi and


Americans’ spending on complementary and alternative medicine is up, but most of the increase is "do-it-yourself" care

U.S. adults spent $33.9 billion on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in 2007. The largest expenditure on CAM was on self-care costs of $22.0 billion, the largest component of which was $14.8 billion spent on non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products. In addition, Americans spent $11.9 out-of-pocket (OOP) on practitioners such as chiropractic, osteopathic manipulation, naturopathy and chelation therapy; $4.1 billion on yoga (equal to 12% of the total), $2.9 billion on homeopathy, and $0.2 billion on relaxation techniques.   The National Health Statistics Reports series published Costs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Frequency of Visits to CAM Practitioners: United


The cost of cancer: can you spell "u-n-d-e-r–i-n-s-u-r-a-n-c-e?"

Published a few months before her death, It’s Always Something is the autobiography from the great Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer 20 years ago at the age of 42.    In the case of cancer, that “something” is all-too-often the case of under-insurance to cover treatment. High out-of-pocket costs for treatment, coupled with insurance premium payments, can force cancer patients to incur big debt or, ultimately, forgo treatment. Spending to Survive is a comprehensive and detailed report from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the American Cancer Society (ACS). The report’s subtitle, “cancer patients confront holes in the health


Mourning the death of Elephant, the alternative pharmacy

Elephant Pharm, the six-year-old alternative pharmacy chain based in northern California, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers two days ago. The vision of Elephant was to provide customers  with both traditional medicines along with homeopathic treatments. The store’s footprint of 12,000 feet held space for both product and services. Practitioners were available in the store with whom consumers could consult on a range of issues, from Ayurvedic herbs to treat headaches to yoga. Note that a similar company, Pharmaca, shares Elephant’s commitment to integrative medicines, but is based on a much smaller design of about 5,000 square feet. Pharmaca has 23


Of fish oil and back pain – complementary medicine utilization shifts since 2002

The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by Americans has held steady since 2002; however, the types of therapies adopted have changed over five years. The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States, from the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, follows up the agency’s 2002 report. This round, NCCAM offers more details on the use of CAM in kids, as well as CAM use by demographic factors including racial and ethnic groups.   CAM is “Complementary” when used with conventional medicine, and “Alternative” when used as a substitute. The most commonly used CAM


Health, the New Status Symbol

We’d rather be healthy than wealthy, according to a new survey from Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L), the PR firm that’s part of the global communications company, Publicis. MS&L polled Americans’ beliefs on health and self-esteem. Three-quarters (72%) of Americans say that being physically healthy is a symbol of personal success. 91% of Americans said they’d rather be described ads “healthy” than “wealthy.” 71% said they’d rather be seen as someone who “looks really healthy” vs. someone who’s nicely “put together or well-dressed.” These will be glad tidings for MS&L’s client base. MS&L serves a global health clientele which includes