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Only in America: Medical Debt Is Most Peoples’ Problem, KHN and NPR Report

When high-deductible health plans became part of health insurance design in America, they were lauded as giving patients “more skin in the game” of health care payments. The theory behind consumer-directed care was that patients-as-consumers would shop around for care, morph into rational consumers of medical services just as they would do purchasing autos or washing machines, and shift the cost-curve of American health care ever downward. That skin-in-the-game has been a risk factor for .some patients to postpone care as well as take on medical debt — the strongest predictor of which is dealing with multiple chronic conditions. “The

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We Are Stuck On Band-Aids, Hygiene, and Self-Care: Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands 2022

We are stuck on Band-Aids and hooked on hygiene and self-care according to the Most Trusted Brands 2022 study from Morning Consult.             In 2022, the most trusted brands in the United States were Band-Aid Lysol Clorox UPS CVS Health (pharmacy) VISA Cheerios The Weather Channel Colgate, and Home Depot. These products and companies sustain trends I tracked in Years 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic when several of these were most-trusted, bolstering peoples’ lives living in, working from, and making health at home.             Four key trends underscore

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Jasper, Scaling a Human Touch for People Dealing with Cancer, Now With Walgreens

Each year, the first Sunday in June marks National Cancer Survivors Day. This year’s NCSD occurred two days ago on Sunday, 5th June. When you’re a cancer survivor, or happen to love one, every day is time to be grateful and celebrate that survival of someone who has come through a cancer journey. We all know (or are) people who have survived cancer. We know that the recipe for battling cancer goes beyond chemotherapy. We know of the resilience and grit required in the process: body, mind, and spirit. “Celebrate Life” is the mantra of NCSD, as this year’s campaign

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The Patient as Consumer and Payer – A Focus on Financial Stress and Wellbeing

Year 3 into the COVID-19 pandemic, health citizens are dealing with coronavirus variants in convergence with other challenges in daily life: price inflation, civil and social stress, anxiety and depression, global security concerns, and the safety of their families. Add on top of these significant stressors the need to deal with medical bills, which is another source of stress for millions of patients in America. I appreciated the opportunity to share my perspectives on “The Patient As the Payer: How the Pandemic, Inflation, and Anxiety are Reshaping Consumers” in a webinar hosted by CarePayment on 25 May 2022. In this

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Food, Cars, and Tech: Here’s How U.S. Consumers Rank Companies’ Reputations – the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll

We’re all about food and cars and our technology, looking at the 2022 Axios Harris Poll 2022 Reputation Rankings published this week.             I’ve curated the logos of the top 30 companies based on the Poll’s survey of 33,096 U.S. adults conducted in March and April 2022. The survey assessed peoples’ awareness of companies that either “excel or falter in society,” according to the study methodology. Here you see the top 30. The COVID-19 pandemic bolstered consumers’ awareness and call-to-action for peoples’ basic needs: food, working-from-home (thus, tech as a determinant of health and wellbeing),

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The Demand for Self-Care At-Home Will Grow Post-Pandemic – Insights from IRI

The coronavirus pandemic has re-shaped consumers across many life- and work-flows. When it comes to peoples’ relationship to consumer packaged goods (CPG), the public health crisis has indeed impacted consumers’ purchasing behaviors and definition of “value,” based on IRI’s latest analysis of CPG shifts in 2022 and 2023.           IRI has been tracking COVID-19’s impact on CPG and retail since the emergence of the coronavirus. In this Health Populi post, I’ll discuss the research group’s assessment of CPG shifts of consumer packaged goods through my lens on health/care, everywhere — especially, in this case, the home.

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McKinsey’s Six Shifts To Add Life to Years — and One More to Consider

People spend one-half of their lives in “less-than-good health,” we learn early in the paper, Adding years to life and life to years from the McKinsey Health Institute. In this data-rich essay, the McKinsey team at MHI sets out an agenda that could help us add 45 billion extra years of higher-quality life equal to an average of six years per person (depending on your country and population demographics). The first graphic from the report illustrates four dimensions of health and the factors underneath each of them that can bolster or diminish our well-being: personal behaviors (such as sleep and diet),

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Can a Food-As-Medicine App Extend Chronic Health Management at the Grocery Store?

Foogal, a recipe app designed to support patients’ healthy cooking and eating, launched on 24th March. In its initial version, Foogal addresses several specific diet paradigms: for patients demanding a wellness protocol, an autoimmune protocol, or wanting to address insulin resistance. Foogal got my attention via a tweet @FoogalApp on 25th March. The snippet featured a photo of a delectable Salad Lyonnaise, one of my favorite things to eat, which adds a soft-cooked egg and bacon lardons to the greens for an easy light (and delicious!) meal. Foogal was developed by Todd Knobel, who has worked in law, in plastics,

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What John Mackey of Whole Foods Said at the 2022 HIMSS Conference – and Why This is Important for the Whole Health Ecosystem

HIMSS convenes its annual conference this week in Orlando, kicking off with an Executive Summit that featured John Mackey, the CEO and Co-Founder of Whole Foods, in conversation with Cris Ross, CIO of the Mayo Clinic. Mackey said in support of his long-held belief that food is the”best solution” to address Americans’ health. As for health care? Not so much, at least as it’s delivered in the United States. ”Why don’t we have clinics that help people change their diets and lifestyles so that they can reverse the disease or prevent it?” Mackey asked, rhetorically. ”It’s astounding. There’s a huge entrepreneurial

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“Talk to me, Teladoc”

Voice technology has become a mainstream household Internet of Things thing for consumers, used to streamline and ease peoples’ daily tasks to hear about the weather, listen to favorite tunes, or seek information. At the same time, the pandemic fostered growing experience with and appreciation for virtual care platforms and on-ramps to health care when needed. Patients have come to accept telehealth in their health care workflows when they value virtual care’s virtues: convenience, access, availability among other features. A leading provider of virtual care is Teladoc, whose most recent explanation of corporate strategy is shown in the first graphic

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The Wellness Economy in 2022 Finds Health Consumers Moving from Feel-Good Luxury to Personal Survival Tactics

The Future of Wellness in 2022 is, “shifting from a ‘feel-good’ luxury to survivalism as people seek resilience,” based on the Global Wellness Institute’s forecast on this year’s look into self-care and consumer’s spending on health beyond medical care — looking beyond COVID-19. GWI published two research papers this week on The Future of Wellness and The Global Wellness Economy‘s country rankings as of February 2021. I welcomed the opportunity to spend time for a deep dive into the trends and findings with the GWI community yesterday exploring all of the data, listening through my health economics-consumer-technology lens. First, consider

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The Reluctance of Consumers to Share Personal Information – The Challenge of Data for Health “Blurring”

Health is the cornerstone to our core needs, thereby the cornerstone to trust.” This was one lens on the latest 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer published earlier this month. But trust is in short supply when it comes to consumers openness to share their personal information we learn through a new study published in JAMA, Consumer Willingness to Share Personal Digital Information for Health-Related Uses. For some historical context, the authors (all affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania [medical school or Wharton (business school)] start with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which served up privacy protections based on

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Nutella, Wine, and COVID Tests at the Convenience Store – A Weekend Observation From Brussels

Health/care is everywhere….even at the convenience store. Yesterday afternoon, as I was picking up a bottle of milk for this morning’s coffee, I rushed to the local Carrefour Express in my neighborhood in St. Gilles, Brussels, Belgium. Sidebar: Carrefour Express is not your prototypical U.S.-styled C-store — you can find some fine Prosciutto di San Daniele in the cold case, some tasty Camembert cheese, very good wine, and just-picked tomatoes there. Still, it’s a C-store in that the brick-and-mortar model is a smaller footprint than a full grocery store, and convenient in that it’s a block from my apartment. Imagine

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From Better for Me to Better for “We” — NielsenIQ’s New Consumer Hierarchy of Health

People around the world have made health a “proactive priority,” most important to live a longer, healthier life, to avoid preventable diseases, to protect against disease, and to look and feel healthier, according to NielsenIQ’s latest health and wellness report. As the triangle here illustrates, NielsenIQ has turned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs upside down, shifting protective and physical needs to the top rung and altruistic — the “me-to-we” ethos — at the base. Note the translations of these needs, on the ride, into the “care” flows — moving from urgent care down to self-care, preventive care, innovative care, and selfless

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Human-Powered Health: How Abbott Is Unlocking the “Possibility of You” at CES 2022

Yesterday, we heard all about autonomous cars and sustainable mobility from Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Autos, TVs, and telecomms are the usual fare of the big stage speeches at the annual big show of consumer electronics. Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of CTA, introduced today’s CES keynote speaker, Robert Ford, as the “first-ever keynote speaker from health care” at CES, calling out the fact that Abbott’s Freestyle Libre System garnered one of CES 2022’s Innovation Awards. Ford is the Chairman and CEO of Abbott, one of the largest global life sciences companies. Ford let us know up-front that

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3 in 4 Insured Americans Worried About Medical Bills — Especially Women

In the U.S., being covered by health insurance is one of the social determinants of health. Without a health plan, an uninsured person in America is far more likely to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs, and lack access to needed health care (and especially primary care). But even with health insurance coverage, most health-insured people are concerned about medical costs in America, found in a MITRE-Harris Poll on U.S. consumers’ health insurance perspectives published today. “Even those fortunate to have insurance struggle with bills that result from misunderstanding or underestimating costs of treatments and procedures,” Juliette Espinosa of

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Health Plan Consumer Experience Scores Reflect Peoples’ Digital Transformation – ACSI Speaks

In the U.S., peoples’ expectations of their health care experience is melding with their best retail experience — and that’s taken a turn toward their digital and ecommerce life-flows. The American Customer Satisfaction Index Insurance and Health Care Study 2020-2021 published today, recognizing consumers’ value for the quality of health insurance companies’ mobile apps and reliability of those apps. Those digital health expectations surpass peoples’ benchmarks for accessing primary care doctors and specialty care doctors and hospitals, based on ACSI’s survey conducted among 12,274 customers via email. The study was fielded between October 2020 and September 2021. Year on year,

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Why CES 2022 Will Be Keynoted by a Health Care Executive

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced that Robert Ford, CEO and President of Abbott, will give a keynote speech at CES 2022, the world’s largest annual convention of the technology industry. This news is a signal that health care and the larger tech-enabled ecosystem that supports health and well-being is embedded in peoples’ everyday lives. Digital health as a category has been a growing feature at CES for over a decade, starting with the early wearable tech era of Fitbit, Nike, Omron and UnderArmour, early exhibitors at CES representing the category. By 2020, the most recent “live, in person” CES,

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New Primary Care, Retail and Tech Entrants Motivating Hospitals to Grow Consumer Chops

Rising costs, generational shifts, digital transformation, and fast-growing investments in new health care models and technologies are forcing change in the legacy health care, noted in the State of Consumerism in Healthcare 2021: Regaining Momentum, from Kaufman, Hall & Associates. As the title of Kaufman Hall’s sixth annual report suggests, health care consumers are evolving — even if the traditional healthcare system hasn’t uniformly responded in lock step with more demanding patients. Kaufman Hall analyzed 100 health care organizations in this year’s consumerism survey to assess their readiness to embrace consumer-centric strategies, understand how the industry prioritizes these approaches, evaluate

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Why Is So Much “Patient Experience” Effort Focused on Financial Experience?

Financial Experience (let’s call it FX) is the next big thing in the world of patient experience and health care. Patients, as health consumers, have taken on more of the financial risk for health care payments. The growth of high-deductible health plans as well as people paying more out-of-pocket exposes patients’ wallets in ways that implore the health care industry to serve up a better retail experience for patients. But that just isn’t happening. One of the challenges has been price transparency, which is the central premise of this weekend’s New York Times research-rich article by reporters Sarah Kliff and

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Pondering Prescription Drugs: Pricing Rx and Going Direct-to-Consumer

There is one health care public policy issue that unites U.S. voters across political party: that is the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. With the price of medicines in politicians’ and health citizens’ cross-hairs, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have responded in many ways to the Rx pricing critiques from consumers (via, for example, Consumer Reports/Consumers Union and AARP), hospitals (through the American Hospital Association), and insurance companies (from AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans). The latest poll from the University of Chicago/Harris Public Policy and the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research quantifies the issue cross-party, finding that 74%

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Americans Grew Digital Health-Data Muscles in the Pandemic – New Insights from the Pew Charitable Trusts

“Most Americans clearly recognize the potential benefits that improved health IT can offer, and they want this transformation of the health care system to continue,” the Pew Charitable Trusts research concludes in Most Americans Want to Share and Access More Digital Health Data. The Pew team surveyed 1,213 adults ages 18 and over in June and July 2020, interviewing in English and Spanish. As digital health industry stakeholders will be convening at the 2021 annual HIMSS conference in Las Vegas and digitally, this report is well-timed to give us a level-set on just “where” U.S. health citizens are with respect to

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Health Insurance in Aisle 3: Why a Grocery Chain is Working on Medicare

“You can trust us to help you find the right Medicare coverage for you and your lifestyle,” the tagline reads. What kind of organization would be behind this campaign: a healthcare navigator company, an insurance company, or a social services agency? In fact, it’s a grocery store called Hy-Vee, which launched the “Medicare Aisle” to help consumers living in the eight states in which the chain’s 240+ stores operate to sort through the daunting labyrinth of Medicare choices. “Hy-Vee is a trusted leader in the health and wellness space, and as a retail and specialty pharmacy provider, we are deeply

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Doctors’ Offices Morph into Bill Collectors As Patients Face Growing Out-Of-Pocket Costs

In the U.S., patients have assumed the role of health care payors with growing co-payments, coinsurance amounts, and deductibles pushing peoples’ out-of-pocket costs up. This has raised the importance of price transparency, which is based on the hypothesis that if patients had access to personally-relevant price/cost information from doctors and hospitals for medical services, and pharmacies and PBMs for prescription drugs, the patient would behave as a consumer and shop around. That hypothesis has not been well proven-out: even though more health care “sellers” on the supply side have begun to post price information for services, patients still haven’t donned

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Healthy Living Trends Inspired by COVID-19: Retailers, Food, and Consumers’ Growing Self-Care Muscles

“Self-care” took on new meaning and personal work-flows for people living in and through the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Acosta, the retail market research pro’s, updated our understanding consumers evolving as COVID-19 Has Elevated the Health and Wellness Trends of the Recent Years, results of a survey conducted among in May 2021. In the U.S., consumers’ take on self-care has most to do with healthy eating and nutrition (for 1 in 2 people), getting regular medical checkups (for 42%), taking exercise, relaxing, using vitamins and supplements, and getting good sleep. Healthy relationships are an integral part of self-care for

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Dollar General, the Latest Retail Health Destination?

“What if…healthcare happened where we live, work, play, pray and shop, delivering the highest levels of retail experience?” I asked and answered in my book HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. The chapter called “The new retail health” began with that “what if,” and much of the book responded with the explanation of patients evolving toward health consumers and, ultimately, health citizens empowered and owning their health and care. This week, Dollar General announced the hiring of its first Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Albert Wu. With that announcement, America’s largest dollar-store chain makes clear its ambitions to join a

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Reimagining Life After the Pandemic – Seeking Health, Safety, Sustainability, and Trust

COVID-19 reshaped people around the world, one-half of whom are re-defining their personal purpose and life-goals. This sense of purpose extends to peoples’ willingness to buy or patronize companies who do not meet their needs for health, safety, sustainability and trust. For example, two in three of these people would switch travel brands if they felt health and safety weren’t up to par, discovered in Life Reimagined – Mapping the motivations that matter for today’s consumers, from Accenture’s Voices of Change series. In May 2021, Accenture polled over 25,000 consumers globally, in 22 countries, and found that one-half of people

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Color Me Healthy – Pantone’s Forecast on Post-Pandemic Well-Being and Design

Post-pandemic, the consumer’s priority purchases are grocery, nesting, and health, according to David Shah, a leading thinker about social and design trends. David presented the latest Pantone forecast on color and society in NewTopia – A Balance of Color Opposites – Color for a Post-COVID World this week. I had the opportunity to attend the session, and want to share the health and wellness-related insights David shared in his fast-paced view on the role of color in bolstering wellbeing and community looking out to 2022/23. For context, Pantone plays a role in your life you might not realize. In health

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Post-Pandemic, U.S. Healthcare is Entering a “Provide More Care For Less” Era – Pondering PwC’s 2022 Forecast

In the COVID-19 pandemic, health care spending in the U.S. increased by a relatively low 6.0% in 2020. This year, medical cost trend will rise by 7.0%, expected to decline a bit in 2022 according to the annual study from PwC Health Research Institute, Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2022. What’s “behind these numbers” are factors that will increase medical spending (the “inflators” in PwC speak) and the “deflators” that lower costs. Looking around the future corner, the inflators are expected to be: A COVID-19 “hangover,” leading to increased health care services utilization Preparations for the next pandemic, and

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Americans’ Views on Food Have Been Re-Shaped by the Pandemic: Think Security, Immunity, and Sustainability

As vaccinations jabbed into peoples’ arms in the U.S. continue to immunize health citizens from contracting the coronavirus, millions of folks are looking forward to getting back inside restaurants to enjoy meals out, as well as un-masking when grocery shopping. But people in the U.S. love their food both outside and inside the home: about one-half of people in the U.S. are continuing to cook at home more, according to the 2021 Food & Health Survey published today by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). This sixteenth annual report is a go-to for those of us in the health/care ecosystem who

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Health Care Costs for a Couple in Retirement in the U.S. Reach $300,000

To pay for health care expenses, the average nest-egg required for a couple retiring in the U.S. in 2021 will be $300,000 according to the 20th annual Fidelity Investments Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate. I’ve tracked this survey for over a decade here on Health Populi, and updated the annual chart shown here to reflect a $40,000 increase in retiree costs since 2016. While the rate of increase year-on-year since then has slowed, the $300,000 price-tag for retiree health care costs is a huge number few Americans have saved for. That $300K splits up unequally for an opposite-gender couple (in

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The Cost of Healthcare Can Drive Medical Rationing and Crowd Out Other Household Spending

One in five people in the U.S. cannot afford to pay for quality health care — an especially acute challenge for Black and Hispanic Americans, according to a West Health-Gallup poll conducted in March 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. “The cost of healthcare and its potential ramifications continues to serve as a burdensome part of day-to-day life for millions of Americans,” the study summary observed. Furthermore, “These realities can spill over into other health issues, such as delays in diagnoses of new cancer and associated treatments that are due to forgoing needed care,” the researchers expected. The first table

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Value-Based Health Care Needs All Stakeholders at the Table – Especially the Patient

2021 is the 20th anniversary of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID). On March 10th, V-BID held its annual Summit, celebrating the Center’s 20 years of innovation and scholarship. The Center is led by Dr. Mark Fendrick, and has an active and innovative advisory board. [Note: I may be biased as a University of Michigan graduate of both the School of Public Health and Rackham School of Graduate Studies in Economics].   Some of the most important areas of the Center’s impact include initiatives addressing low-value care, waste in U.S. health care, patient assistance programs, Medicare

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The Economics of the Pandemic Put Costs at the Top of Americans’ Health Reform Priorities

A major side-effect of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 was its impact on the national U.S. economy, jobs, and peoples’ household finances — in particular, medical spending. In 2021, patients-as-health-consumers seek lower health care and prescription drug costs coupled with higher quality care, discovered by the patient advocacy coalition, Consumers for Quality Care. This broad-spanning patient coalition includes the AIMED Alliance, Autism Speaks, the Black AIDS Institute, Black Women’s Health Initiative, Center Forward, Consumer Action. Fair Foundation, First Focus, Global Liver Institute, Hydrocephalus Association, LULAC, MANA (a Latina advocacy organization), Myositis Association, National Consumers League, National Health IT Collaborative, National Hispanic

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Ensuring That Humanity Retains Control of Connected Things: A Message from Microsoft at CES 2021

Artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to play a role in health care for predictive analytics, personalization, and public health. On 26th January, I’ll moderate a tweetchat at 1 pm Eastern time, brainstorming the current and future state of and opportunities for AI in health care. I’ll be co-chatting with Microsoft’s AI leader, Tom Lawry (@TCLawry on Twitter). In advance of that discussion, I wanted to feature remarks shared by Brad Smith, Microsoft President, that I recently heard at CES 2021, the annual (this year, virtual) meeting convening the largest community of consumer electronics stakeholders globally Smith wove a crucial, impactful

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Our Homes Are Health Delivery Platforms – The New Home Health/Care at CES 2021

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 18 January 2021 in Aging, Aging and Technology, Baby health, Big data and health, Bio/life sciences, Bioethics, Boomers, Broadband, Business and health, Connected health, Consumer electronics, Consumer experience, Consumer-directed health, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Data analytics and health, Demographics and health, Dental care, Design and health, Diagnostics, Digital health, Digital therapeutics, Electronic medical records, Exercise, Fitness, Food and health, GDPR, Grocery stores, Guns and health, Health and Beauty, Health at home, Health care marketing, Health citizenship, Health Consumers, Health costs, Health disparities, Health Economics, Health ecosystem, Health engagement, Health equity, Health marketing, Health media, Health Plans, Health policy, Health politics, Health privacy, Health regulation, Healthcare access, Healthcare DIY, Heart disease, Heart health, HIPAA, Home care, Hospitals, Housing and health, Internet and Health, Internet of things, Medical device, Medical innovation, Nutrition, Obesity, Oral care, Patient engagement, Patient experience, Pharmacy, Physicians, Popular culture and health, Prevention and wellness, Primary care, Privacy and security, Public health, Remote health monitoring, Retail health, Robots and health, Safety net and health, SDoH, Self-care, Sensors and health, Sleep, Smartwatches, Social determinants of health, Social responsibility, Sustainability, Telehealth, Telemedicine, Transparency, Trust, Virtual health, Wearable tech, Wearables, Wellbeing

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted and re-shaped the annual CES across so many respects — the meeting of thousands making up the global consumer tech community “met” virtually, both keynote and education sessions were pre-recorded, and the lovely serendipity of learning and meeting new concepts and contacts wasn’t so straightforward. But for those of us working with and innovating solutions for health and health care, #CES2021 was baked with health goodness, in and beyond “digital health” categories. In my consumer-facing health care work, I’ve adopted the mantra that our homes are our health hubs. Reflecting on my many conversations during CES

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

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

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Preparing for a Long-COVID Lifestyle in 2021 – A Health-At-Home Focus for CES 2021

In the U.S., the latest read on supply-and-demand for COVID-19 vaccines illustrates a gap between what had been promised for the first phase of vaccine rollout versus the reality of supply chain challenges, cold storage, and 50-state and local fragmentation at the last mile for U.S. health citizens. An op-ed published in yesterday’s Washington Post by Dr. Robert Wachter of UCSF and Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University found these two wise physicians feeling “punched in the face” with the state of coronavirus vaccination in America. As a result, they soberly, pragmatically recommended administering just the first jab of vaccine

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

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

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Consumers Demand Digital Transformation Across Their Health Care Experiences

From appointment scheduling to checking in, payment and clinical encounter follow-up, patients now expect digital experiences across the health care continuum….and really great ones, like they get from Amazon and other platforms that earn high net promoter scores. That is the big message from the 2020 Healthcare Consumer Experience Study published by Cedar, based on the input of 1,502 U.S. adults who paid a medical bill between October 2019 and October 2020. The timing of this study coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. through at least seven months of American patients’ experiences in 2020. Two-thirds

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U.S. Health Consumers’ Growing Financial Pressures, From COVID to Cancer

Before the coronavirus pandemic, patients had been transforming into health care payors, bearing high deductibles, greater out of pocket costs, and financial risk shifting to them for medical spending. In the wake of COVID-19, we see health consumers-as-payors impacted by the pandemic, as well as for existing diagnoses and chronic care management. There is weakening in U.S. consumers’ overall household finances, the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) asserted (published 25 November 2020). In John Leer’s look into the BEA report in Morning Consult, he wrote, “Decreases in income, the expiration of unemployment benefits and increased

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How Nurx Is Empowering Women’s Health and Self-Care in the Pandemic Era

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, women have experienced more than the direct physical, clinical impact of COVID-19: beyond “lives,” women’s livelihoods, financial health and emotional well-being have been hard-hit. This is true on both a global basis as well as in the United States. In that context, last week I engaged in a fascinating conversation with Varsha Rao, CEO of Nurx, to discuss the current state of women and health/care in America, and some thoughts about the future. If you’ve had the TV on sometime since March 2020, one of many millions of people in the U.S. spending

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The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Made Patients Less Patient – Insights from Accenture

When it comes to patients, health care providers have been hit hard in two ways in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hit #1 has been the direct negative impact of the coronavirus on health care volumes and patients not utilizing hospitals and doctors’ services, avoiding physical encounters in health care sites Hit #2 has been the negative impact of patient experience for those health consumers who sought health care services during the pandemic — and had a negative response to the encounter. Accenture explored this phenomenon in their latest report, Elevating the Patient Experience to Fuel Growth. In the

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COVID-19 Has Accelerated Consumers’ Interest in Healthy Home Tech

One in two U.S. adults say their concerns about personal health and wellness increased in the past year: in particular, stress and anxiety, and sleep and eating habits. Despite spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, few people believe they live in a “healthy home.” The vast majority of consumers are concerned about some aspect of their home’s health, like air or water quality, according to Healthy Home Technologies , a report published in October 2020 by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), convener of the annual CES. For the research, CES interviewed 1,500 U.S. adults in late

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

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

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For Health Consumers, Trust, Privacy, & Good Experience Must Be Baked Into Digital Health Care

“Digital transformation” was the mantra for all industries before we heard about the COVID-19 virus. Since the emergence of the pandemic, the coronavirus has accelerated the adoption of digital platforms, AI, and ecommerce. That is at least as true for the health care sector as it has been for other industry segments. So, will the fast-adoption of virtual care and other forms of digitization in health care last? Accenture probes this question in a report published today asking, How Can Leaders Make Recent Digital Health Gains Last? In Accenture’s words, “COVID-19 forced a surge” in virtual health care following a

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We Are All About Hygiene, Groceries, and Personal Care in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pass me the Clorox…tip the UPS driver…love thy grocer. These are our daily life-flows in the Age of COVID-19. Our basic needs are reflected in the new 2020 Axios-Harris Poll, released today. For the past several years, I’ve covered the Harris Poll of companies’ reputation rankings here in Health Populi. Last year, Wegmans, the grocer, ranked #1; Amazon, #2. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. consumers’ basic needs are emerging as health and hygiene, food, and technology, based on the new Axios-Harris Poll on the top 100 companies. This year’s study was conducted in four waves, with the

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From Dr. Fauci to Peloton, Healthcare and Wellness Baked Into Ad Age’s Top 20 Brands for 2020

Advertising Age announced their list of the top 20 brands in 2020 this week. Ad Age’s lens on these was heavily tinted by consumers’ lives coping with the coronavirus pandemic: “The coronavirus has brought new attention to typically boring, decades-old consumer staples, while hastening the rise of digital newcomers that were only just beginning to gain traction pre-pandemic,” Ad Age explains in the introduction to the list of the selected brands. As the editors of the MadMen-and-Women’s most influential industry publication, they explain, “Ad Age chronicles 20 brands that are having a moment.” This moment to them as well as

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Economic Anxieties Rise, Medical and Vacation Plans Delayed: the COVID-19 Consumer in June 2020

Some 6 in 10 people in the U.S. have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Those most negatively affected by the pandemic tend to be younger, Gen Z age group and African-American, 63% of whom felt financial pressure directly due from the virus and the national economic lockdown. By late May 2020, 34% of black Americans had lost their jobs compared with 21% in late April, compared with 18% of white consumers, reported in The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Financial Impact on U.S. Consumers, survey research from TransUnion. This post describes data from TransUnion’s Wave 9 report, which polled 2,086 U.S. adults 18

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The Hair Economy in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Control, Wellness, and Self-Care

The barbershop and beauty salon are important community touch points for health, wellness, and social connection in so many peoples’ lives. In my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen, I feature the black barbershop to introduce a chapter on “The New Retail Health.” In the COVID-19 pandemic, how we’re dealing with hair is a metaphor for personal control, for political statements, for mental health, and for overall well-being. Check out Geoff Coates’ (known as Sadochicken, from Vancouver) take on “how quarantine hairdos are lookin’,” here. Can you see yourself? I can (it’s the “Corona Bangs” style for me,

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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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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 Coronavirus Is Re-Shaping Consumer Behavior, From the Amusement Park to the Voting Booth

The coronavirus has shaken U.S. consumer confidence, both in terms of financial markets and personal health risks. COVID-19 is re-shaping peoples’ behavior and daily choices, from using public transit to choosing where to shop, based on Morning Consult’s National Tracking Poll #200276 conducted February 28-March 1, 2020. Morning Consult surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults, finding that 3 in 4 Americans were concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. The first chart from the survey shows various consumer activities by peoples’ likelihood of choosing to do them. Clearly, our daily life-flows outside of our homes have been impacted by our perceived risks of the coronavirus:

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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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Consumers Seek Benefits From Food, a Personal Social Determinant of Health

As consumers in the U.S. wrestle with accessing and paying for medical benefits, there’s another sort of health benefit people increasingly understand, embrace, and consume: food-as-medicine. More people are taking on the role of health consumers as they spend more out-of-pocket on medical care and insurance, and seeking food to bolster their health is part of this behavior change. One in four Americans seek health benefits from food, those who don’t still seek the opportunity to use food for weight loss goals, heart health and energy boosting, according to the 2019 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information

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The Heart of Health at CES 2020 – Evidence & Innovation Bridge Consumers and Doctors

The digital health presence at CES 2020 is the fastest-growing segment of consumer technologies at the Show this year, increasing by 25% over 2019. Heart-focused technologies are a big part of that growth story. In fact, in our search for devices and tools underpinned with clinical proof, evidence is growing for consumer-facing technology for heart-health, demonstrated by this year’s CES. Wrist-worn devices, digital therapeutics, patient engagement platforms, pharma and health plans converged at this year’s CES, with the professional association “blessing” of the American College of Cardiology who granted a continuing medical education credit for physicians attending a one-day “disruptive

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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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In 2020, PwC Expects Consumers to Grow DIY Healthcare Muscles As Medical Prices Increase

The new year will see a “looming tsunami” of high prices in healthcare, regulation trumping health reform, more business deals reshaping the health/care industry landscape, and patients growing do-it-yourself care muscles, according to Top health industry issues of 2020: Will digital start to show an ROI from the PwC Health Research Institute. I’ve looked forward to reviewing this annual report for the past few years, and always learn something new from PwC’s team of researchers who reach out to experts spanning the industry. In this 14th year of the publication, PwC polled executives from payers, providers, and pharma/life science organizations. Internally,

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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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Being Transparent About Healthcare Transparency – My Post on the Medecision Blog

With new rules emanating from the White House this month focusing on health care price transparency, health care costs are in the spotlight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A hospital transparency mandate will go into effect in January 2021 as a final rule, and a second rule with a focus on health plans and friendly explanations-of-benefits will receive comments in the Federal Register until January 14, 2020. As patients continue to grow muscles as payors and health consumers, transparency is one key to enabling people to “shop” for those health care and medical products and services that

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Hospitals Suffer Decline in Consumer Satisfaction

While customer satisfaction with health insurance plans slightly increased between 2018 and 2019, patient satisfaction with hospitals fell in all three settings where care is delivered — inpatient, outpatient, and the emergency room, according to the 2018-2019 ACSI Finance, Insurance and Health Care Report. ACSI polls about 300,000 U.S. consumers each year to gauge satisfaction with over 400 companies in 46 industries. For historic trends, you can check out my coverage of the 2014 version of this study here in Health Populi. The 2019 ACSI report bundles finance/banks, insurance (property/casualty, life and health) and hospitals together in one document. Health

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Americans’ Top Sources of Stress are Money, Money, Money and Family

ABBA sang the song “Money Money Money” back in 1976. The lyrics feel, sadly, spot-on when thinking about health care costs, job-lock and Americans’ home economics in 2019. “Work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay Ain’t it sad And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me That’s too bad… Money, money, money must be funny In the rich man’s world.” That year, ’76, wasn’t just the U.S. bicentennial — it was a year when the U.S. allocated 8.6% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product for health care.

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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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The Hospital CFO in the Anxiety Economy – My Talk at Cerner’s Now/Next Conference

As patients have taken on more financial responsibility for first-dollar costs in high-deductible health plans and medical bills, hospitals and health care providers face growing fiscal pressures for late payments and bad debt. Those financial pressures are on both sides of the health care payment transaction, stressing patients-as-payors and health care financial managers alike. I’m speaking to health industry stakeholders on patients-as-payors at Cerner’s Now/Next conference today about the patient-as-payor, a person primed for engagement. That’s as in “Amazon-Primed,” which patients in their consumer lives now use as their retail experience benchmark. But consumers-as-patients don’t feel like health care today

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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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Why Humana Joined CTA – The Pivot from “Health Insurance” to Behaving as a Health-Tech Start-Up

“Every company is a tech company,” Christopher Mimms asserted in the Wall Street Journal in December 2018. Connectivity, artificial intelligence, and automation are now competencies every company must master, Mimms explains. This ethos underpins Humana’s decision to join CTA, the Consumer Technology Association which hosts CES every January in Las Vegas. If you read this blog, you know one of the fastest-growing “aisles” at the annual conference is digital health. Humana joined up with CTA’s Health and Fitness Technology Division this month. Last year, Humana hired Heather Cox in the new post of Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer, reporting directly

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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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100 Million People in America Lack Broadband — an On-Ramp to Health and Safety

One in three Americans does not have a broadband connection, according to a new report from the NPD Group. This means that about 100 million people in the U.S. can’t benefit from telehealth and other digital health connections that can bolster self-care, home care, and lower cost care. Most of these folks in the broadband-digital divide live in rural America/ “The so-called digital divide, between those that can or cannot make the best use of the Internet, can be clearly felt in rural markets where the lack of broadband impacts everything from entertainment to the educational system,” Eddie Hold, President

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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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IKEA Garners the Top Health & Wellness Award at Cannes Lions 2019 – the Expanding Health/Care Ecosystem

“Health is now everyone’s business,” Shaheed Peera, Executive Creative Director of Publicis LifeBrands, said this week at the 2019 Cannes Lions awards. Shaheed also led the Health & Wellness jury at Cannes Lions 2019, the mission of which is to, in the words of the award’s portal, “celebrate creativity for personal wellbeing.” The Grand Prix Lions award for Health & Wellness went to IKEA for the company’s ThisAbles campaign. ThisAbles is a project pioneered by IKEA’s team in Israel, looking to improve everyday living for people with special needs through  well-designed IKEA products. IKEA collaborated with non-profit organizations to develop

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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’ Belt-Tightening Could Impact Health/Care – Insights from Deloitte’s Retail Team

Over the ten years between 2007 and 2017, U.S. consumer spending for education, food and health care substantially grew, crowding out spending for other categories like transportation and housing. Furthermore, income disparity between wealthy Americans and people earning lower-incomes dramatically widened: between 2007-2017, income for high-income earners grew 1,305 percent more than lower-incomes. These two statistics set the kitchen table for spending in and beyond 2019, particularly for younger people living in America, considered in  Deloitte’s report, The consumer is changing, but perhaps not how you think. The authors are part of Deloitte Consulting’s Retail team. The retail spending data

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Patients’ Expectations for Health Beyond Care: Think Food, Exercise, Emotions, Sleep and Finance

People want to make health with their health care providers, and they want more than care from them: most patients are looking for support with healthy eating, exercise, emotional support, sleep, stress management, social relationships, and financial health. And in case physicians, nurses and pharmacists aren’t sufficiently business with that punch-list for health, two in three U.S. patients would also like to receive help in finding a higher purpose. This is the health consumer’s mass call-out for holistic health, Welltok discovered in a survey conducted among over 1,600 U.S. adults in March 2019. The results are detailed in the assertively 

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Prescription Drug Costs In America Through the Patient Lens, via IQVIA, GoodRx and a New $2 Million Therapy

Americans consumed 17.6 prescriptions per person in 2018, two in three of which treated chronic conditions. Welcome to Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S. , the annual review of prescription drug supply, demand and Rx pricing dynamics from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. In a call with analysts this week in which I participated, the Institute’s Executive Director Murray Aitken discussed the report which looks back at 2018 and forward to 2023 with scenarios about what the U.S. prescription drug market might look like five years from now. The report is organized into four sections: medical use

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Listen Up, Healthcare: Hear The Patient’s Voice!

Consider the voice of a patient before the advent of the Internet in the digital 1.0 world, and then the proliferation of social networks in v 2.0. One patient could talk with another over their proverbial neighborhood fence, a concerned parent at the PTA meeting with others dealing with a children’s health issue, or a recovering alcoholic testifying in person at an AA session. Today, the voice of the patient is magnified one-to-many, omnichannel and multi-platform — via video, blogs, podcasts, social networks, listservs….and, yes, still in live forums like AA meetings, church basements, Y-spaces, and the Frazzled Cafe meet-ups

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Health/Care Everywhere – Re-Imagining Healthcare at ATA 2019

“ATA” is the new three-letter acronym for the American Telemedicine Association, meeting today through Tuesday at the Convention Center in New Orleans.  Ann Mond Johnson assumed the helm of CEO of ATA in 2018, and she’s issued a call-to-action across the health/care ecosystem for a delivery system upgrade. Her interview here in HealthLeaders speaks to her vision, recognizing, “It’s just stunning that there’s such a lag between what is possible in telehealth and what is actually happening.” I’m so keen on telehealth, I’m personally participating in three sessions at #ATA19. On Monday 15th April (US Tax Day, which is relevant

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Patients, Health Consumers, People, Citizens: Who Are We In America?

“Patients as Consumers” is the theme of the Health Affairs issue for March 2019. Research published in this trustworthy health policy publication covers a wide range of perspectives, including the promise of patients’ engagement with data to drive health outcomes, citizen science and participatory research where patients crowdsource cures, the results of financial incentives in value-based plans to drive health care “shopping” and decision making, and ultimately, whether the concept of patients-as-consumers is useful or even appropriate. Health care consumerism is a central focus in my work, and so it’s no surprise that I’ve consumed every bit of this publication. [In

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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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What #CES2019 5 Tech Trends to Watch Mean for Health/Care

As #CES2019 kicks off in Las Vegas with today’s first Media Day, the Consumer Technology Association presented its forecast on the 5 Technology Trends to Watch in 2019 — and they all play into health, wellness, and medical care. The five trends are: Artificial Intelligence on the Rise Envisioning the Smart Home of the Future Digital Health Tech Empowers Patients Esports and Sports Technology, and Smart Cities Promote Resilience. Here are how these five mega-trends can bolster our health and healthcare products and services over the next decade. AI is indeed on-the-rise in healthcare: as I have begun planning my agenda for

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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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Be Thankful by Engaging With Grace and Talking About Your End-of-Life Wishes With Loved Ones

“Thanksgiving.” Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word, first, as “the act of giving thanks.” Second, it’s “a prayer of expressing gratitude.” And, third, the word means a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness. We each have our own stories about how a loved one’s life has ended. If we’re lucky, that beloved person had a good death: in sleep, perhaps, or simply of old age with no hospital events or trauma. Then there are the Rest-of-Us who share family stories and experience of long and painful endings, in institutional settings often coupled with costly, so-called “heroic” but unwanted, futile care. When

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“Seeing Is Not Believing:” Consumers Concerned About the Accuracy of Online Health Information

“Seeing is not believing” when it comes to people seeing health information on social networks. Four in five people seeking healthcare information online in social media are concerned about the accuracy of that information served up. Therefore, most consumers a very satisfied with the healthcare information they receive from nurses, eye doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurse practitioners, doctors, and dietitians. But social media influencers. patient organizations, online patient forums, and pharmaceutical companies? Not so much. Only one-half of U.S. consumers believe that health-related information on the internet is as reliable as information from medical professionals. Welcome to The Great American Search for

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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

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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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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 MedModular Fits Into the New Lower-Cost, High-Quality, Consumer-Enchanted Healthcare World

In American health economics, there’s a demand side and a supply side. On the demand side, we’ve done a poor job trying to nudge patients and consumers toward rational economic decision making, lacking transparency, information symmetry, and basic health literacy. On the supply side, we’ve engaged in a medical arms race allocating capital resources to shinier and shinier new things, often without cost-benefit rationale or clinical evidence. On that supply side, though, I met up with an innovation that can help to bend the capital cost curve of how we envision and build new hospitals and clinics. This week, I

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As Workers’ Healthcare Costs Increase, Employers Look to Telehealth and Wearable Tech to Manage Cost & Health Risks

Family premiums for health insurance received at the workplace grew 5% in 2018: to $19,616, according to the 2018 KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). These two trends combine for a 212% increase in workers’ deductibles in the past decade. This is about eight times the growth of workers’ wages in the U.S. in the same period. Thus, the main takeaway from the study, KFF President and CEO Drew Altman noted, is that rising health care costs absolutely remain a burden for employers — but a bigger problem for workers in America. Given that

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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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Consumers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know About Healthcare Costs

The saving rate in the U.S. ranks among the lowest in the world, in a country that rates among the richest nations. So imagine how well Americans save for healthcare? “Consumers are not disciplined about saving in general,” with saving for healthcare lagging behind other types of savings, Alegeus observes in the 2018 Alegeus Consumer Health & Financial Fluency Report. Alegeus surveyed 1,400 U.S. healthcare consumers in September 2017 to gauge peoples’ views on healthcare finances, insurance, and levels of fluency. As patients continue to take on more financial responsibility for healthcare spending in the U.S., they are struggling with finances and

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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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Consumers Changing the Channel on Where They Shop for Health

Consumers who have long purchased over-the-counter medicines, anti-dandruff shampoo, whitening toothpaste, and cosmetics-with-benefits at food, drug and mass merchant retailers are switching to other places to shop for health, new data from AT Kearney and GMDC have found. The two organizations have collaborated to launch a new  benchmarking study into health-beauty-wellness (HBW) sales, launched this weekend at the GMDC HBW Conference in Orlando. Overall, 2017 to 2018 year-on-year, HBW sales were flat-to-no growth, notwithstanding the consumer and influencer buzz around the categories.       This study uncovered some very important trends underneath the macro numbers that tell a story

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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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Health Il-Literacy Costs

The complexity of the U.S. healthcare system erodes Americans’ health literacy, Accenture asserts in their report, The Hidden Cost of Healthcare System Complexity.                             And that complexity costs, Accenture calculated, to the tune of nearly $5 billion in administrative cost burden to payors. Accenture developed a healthcare system literacy index to quantify the relationship between peoples’ understanding of how health insurance works and what a lack of understanding can cost the system. The index looks at consumer comprehension of health insurance terms like premium, deductible, copayment, coinsurance, out-of-pocket

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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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Most Americans Over 50 Not Buying Groceries Online….Yet

Only 17% of Americans over 50 years of age shopped for groceries online by mid-2018. But older people in the U.S. have underlying demands and needs that could nudge them to do online grocery shopping, unearthed in a survey from AARP Foundation and IFIC, the International Food Industry Council Foundation. Typically, older Americans who shop online tend to be college-educated, work full-time, and earn higher incomes. Older people with mobility issues also shop more online than folks without such challenges. But even among those older people who shop online for food, they do so less frequently than younger people do.

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How Taking Care of Your Health Boosts Savings Accounts

It will cost about $275,000 for a couple retiring in the U.S. this year to cover their healthcare costs for the rest of their life in retirement, Fidelity estimated. But Americans are notoriously pretty undisciplined about saving money, compared with peers living in other developed countries. How to address this challenge? Show people what improving their personal health can do to boost their 401(k) plans. This tactic is discussed in Health & Retirement Savings: Leveraging Healthcare Costs to Drive 401(k) Contributions & Improve Health, from HealthyCapital, a joint venture of Mercy health systems and HealthView Services.   The chart illustrates three

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