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Employees Continue To Pick Up More Health Insurance Costs, Even As Their Growth Slows

The average cost of an employer=sponsored health plan for a family reached $18,764 in 2017. While this premium grew overall by a historically relative low of 3.4%, employees covered under that plan faced an increase of 8.3% over what their plan share cost them in 2016, according to the 2017 Employer Health Benefit Survey published today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. [Here’s a link to the 2016 KFF report, which provided the baseline for this 8.3% calculation]. Average family premiums at the workplace rose 19% since 2012, a slowdown from the two previous five-year periods — 30% between 2007 and 2012, and

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Patients Are Looking to Finance Healthcare Over Time

Most U.S. patients want healthcare providers to offer cost information before a procedure, and whether doctors offer financial options to help them extend payments over time. This is an automotive or home appliance procedure we’re talking about. It’s healthcare services, and American patients are now the third largest payors to providers in the nation. Thus, the title of a new report summarizing a consumer survey from HealthFirst notes, “It’s Never Too Soon to Communicate Pricing and Payment Options. The study found that two-thirds of U.S. consumers would like healthcare providers to discuss financing options; however, only 18 percent of providers have

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The Family That Eats Dinner Together Gets Healthy Together

When a family eats together, they eat more nutritiously, A family that shares 3 or more meals together each week has a 24% greater consumption of nutritious food. Yet only one-half of families in the U.S. with kids under 18 eat dinner together every night of the week, a Gallup poll found. It’s National Family Meals Month. Eating together as a family is a social determinant of health, and the Food Marketing Institute dedicates the month of September to promote the old school concept of the “family meal.” Nutrition habits are built from early childhood. More kids are showing interest

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Celebrating 10 Years of Health Populi, 10 Healthcare Milestones and Learnings

Happy anniversary to me…well, to the Health Populi blog! It’s ten years this week since I launched this site, to share my (then) 20 years of experience advising health care stakeholders in the U.S. and Europe at the convergence of health, economics, technology, and people. To celebrate the decade’s worth of 1,791 posts here on Health Populi (all written by me in my independent voice), I’ll offer ten health/care milestones that represent key themes covered from early September 2007 through to today… 1. Healthcare is one-fifth of the national U.S. economy, and the top worrisome line item in the American

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Cost and Personalization Are Key For Health Consumers Who Shop for Health Plans

        Between 2012 and 2017, the number of US consumers who shopped online for health insurance grew by three times, from 14% to 42%, according to a survey from Connecture. Cost first, then “keeping my doctor,” are the two top considerations when shopping for health insurance. 71% of consumers would consider switching their doctor(s) to save on plan costs. Beyond clinician cost, health plans shoppers are also concerned with prescription drug costs in supporting their decisions. 80% of consumers would be willing to talk with their doctors about prescription drug alternatives, looking for a balance between convenience

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Price-Shopping for Healthcare Still A Heavy Lift for Consumers

Most U.S. consumers support the idea of price-shopping for healthcare, but don’t practice it. While patients “should” shop for health care and perceive differences in costs across providers, few seek information about their personal out-of-pocket costs before getting treatment. Few Americans shop around for health care, even when insured under a high-deductible health plan, conclude Ateev Mehrotra and colleagues in their research paper, Americans Support Price Shopping For Health Care, But Few Actually Seek Out Price Information. The article is published in Health Affairs‘ August 2017 issue. The bar chart shows some of the survey results, with the top-line finding

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Patients Want Doctors To Know How Much Their Drugs Cost

  Patients want their doctors to know what their personal costs for medicines are; 42% of patients also believe their doctor is aware of how much they spend on prescription drugs. However, 61% of these people have not talked with doctors about drug prices. Nor do most doctors have access to this kind of information at the individual patient level. One important tactic to addressing overall healthcare costs, and managing the prescription drug line item in those costs, is discussed in Doctors and Pharmacists: An Underused Resource to Manage Drug Costs for Older Adults, a report on a survey sponsored

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The Art of Emojis in Constipation-Conversation

“Constipation is hard. Talking about it is even harder,” reads a card I received from the senior director of marketing at Synergy Pharmaceuticals. Emojis-meet-direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical promotion in a new campaign from the drug company, which is embarking on a disease education campaign to bring greater awareness to the condition of chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This condition impacts 14% of the global population. The messengers for this effort are a cast of emojis who populate a continuum from constipation-to-diarrhea and every poop step in-between. Meet The Poop Troop: Stressed-Out Stooly Clogged Chris Left-Out Lumpy Plugged-Up Paulie Miss La Poop Mr. Smooth Sausage Sally

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Patients Switch Doctors Based on Service, Not Just Care or Costs – Think “Text”

There’s more evidence of shopping behavior among patients: there’s new data showing that patients-as-consumers switch healthcare providers not due to quality of care or costs, but because of lack of service. I discovered one key verb and feature patient-consumers expect from doctors: it’s the ability to text, for appointment reminders, alerts, treatments, and communicating with the practice. SolutionReach, in the business of patient engagement, conducted a survey among 500 consumers asking about primary care providers, communication experience and satisfaction levels. The company presented the research results in a webinar on 29 June 2017. The research was also written up in

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Consumer Experience Is An Integral Part of the Healthcare Experience

Patient satisfaction should be baked into healthcare provider service goals, according to Prioritizing the Patient Experience from West Corporation, the communications company. West is in the business of improving communications systems, and has a vested interest in expanding comms in health. This research polled patients and providers to assess how each healthcare stakeholder perceives various patient satisfaction issues, which when done well are grounded in sound communications strategy and technologies. Patient satisfaction is directly linked to the bottom lines of healthcare organizations, West contends, due to two key drivers: Evolving payment models are increasingly tying patient satisfaction to reimbursements; and,

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Pharmacy and Outpatient Costs Will Take A Larger Portion of Health Spending in 2018

Health care costs will trend upward by 6.5% in 2018 according to the forecast, Medical Cost Trends: Behind the Numbers 2018, from PwC’s Health Research Institute. The expected increase of 6.5% is a half-percentage point up from the 2017 rate of 6.0%, which is 8% higher than last year’s rate matching that of 2014. PwC’s Health Research Institute has tracked medical cost trends since 2007, as the line chart illustrates, when trend was nearly double at nearly 12%. The research consider medical prices, health care services and goods utilization, and a PwC employer benefit cost index for the U.S. The key

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Helping People On A Path to Better Health with CVS @Retail

“Helping people on their path to better health” is the mission-mantra of CVS Health. Re-branded from its previous identity as CVS/pharmacy, the organization convened a Health Innovation Summit with its vendor partners whose products fill the front-of-store shelves to empower, inspire and support consumers to manage health and wellness for themselves and their families. I was grateful for the opportunity to provide the first talk for the day, setting the context for the evolving retail health/care landscape with the consumer at the center. The consumer is, at any point in a 24-hour day: a person wearing many hats (a worker,

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Healthcare Cost Concerns Trump All Others Across the Generations

Patients, evolving into health consumers, seek a better healthcare experience. While most people are pretty satisfied with their medical care, cost and confusion reign. This is the topline finding of a study from Oliver Wyman appropriately titled, Complexity and Opportunity, a survey of U.S. health consumers’ worries and wants. Oliver Wyman collaborated on the research with the FORTUNE Knowledge Group. Consumers’ biggest healthcare concerns deal with costs: rising insurance premiums; greater out-of-pocket costs for care not covered by insurance; and, the growing costs of prescription drugs together rank as the top 3 healthcare concerns in this study. After costs, consumers cite government

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U.S. Consumers Expect, But Don’t See, Innovation From the Health & Wellness Industry

U.S. consumers consider Consumer Electronics to be the most innovative industry they know. But people believe that Health & Wellness should be the most innovative sector in the economy. Welcome to the 2017 Klick Health Consumer Survey, which focuses on health innovation in the context of peoples’ hopes for technology to improve health and healthcare. 1 in 2 people say that technology has had a positive impact on their health and wellness, skewing slightly more toward younger people (although 45% of people 55 years of age and older agree that tech positively contributes to health. 41% of consumers say they’ve

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From Hospitality to Health-pitality to Sportspitality

“Stay well, even on the road,” welcomes the chain of EVEN Hotels. That message from a hospitality company is part of the growth of the retail health landscape, driven by consumers’ desire to live well and make healthy decisions every day – even during business trips. The message is that, “Wellness is more than a word. It’s your way of life. But when it’s time to travel, it all falls apart,” Who among us road warriors for work doesn’t get that message? This is a real trend that engaged health consumers have begun to demand. A friend of mine traveled this week

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Amazon’s Health Care Building Blocks

In the past few weeks, two announcements from Amazon point to a strategy, whether intended or my dot-connecting, that the ecommerce leader has the health of its customers in its sights. In late May, CNBC first published the news that Amazon was seeking out a candidate to be a general manager for a pharmacy business. Here’s the video telling the story. Getting into the retail pharmacy channel is in itself a huge message to this health industry segment, which is very competitive between chain pharmacies (led by CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid), grocery pharmacies (the largest of which are Kroger and

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As High Deductible Health Plans Grow, So Does Health Consumers’ Cost-Consciousness

A person enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan is more likely to be cost-conscious than someone with traditional health insurance. Cost-consciousness behaviors including checking whether a plan covers care, asking for generic drugs versus a brand name pharmaceutical, and using online cost-tracking tools provided by health plans, according to the report, Consumer Engagement in Health Care: Findings from the 2016 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey from EBRI, the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A high deductible is correlated with more engaged health plan members, EBRI believes based on the data. One example: more than one-half of people enrolled

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The Consumer Trust Deficit In Health Engagement

While trust in major institutions is eroding the world over, peoples’ trust in healthcare is on the rise, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. Still, compared to other industry sectors, healthcare is still barely positive — and just one spot ahead of financial services. When it comes to trust, “the healthcare industry is making slow but steady progress,” notes Kym White who leads Edelman’s healthcare practices. Consumers’ trust in the five healthcare segments of pharmaceutical/drug companies, consumer health/over the counter, biotech/life sciences, insurance and hospitals/clinics is improving over 2016. In the U.S., for pharma and biotech, trust is reversing a

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Building Digital Trust Is Now Part of Serving Up Healthcare

The most trusted stewards for protecting consumers’ health data are “my providers:” “my” physician (88%), “my” pharmacy (85%), and “my” hospital” (84%). according to the Accenture 2017 Consumer Survey on Healthcare Cybersecurity and Digital Trust. Who’s least-trusted? Government (56%) and tech companies (57%). Note, though, that most Americans (over 50%) trust these health data holders — it’s just that fewer people trust them than healthcare providers, who are top health information protectors in health consumers’ trust rosters. Accenture commissioned Nielsen to conduct this survey in November 2016 in seven countries. The results discussed here in Health Populi focus on the

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So Far, Food and Nutrition Aren’t Baked Into President Trump’s Health Policies

The FDA is delaying the public posting of calorie counts, a policy that President Obama’s administration had pioneered for public health and wellness. Menu labeling has applied to grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, movie theaters and sports stadiums that sell prepared food. “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the menu labeling requirements would be ‘unwise and unhelpful’ as currently written, and added that the FDA is looking for ways to make the rules ‘more flexible and less burdensome.'” Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama took on the issue of healthy food and fitness for America’s children. Except for keeping her White

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Home Is the New and Future Medical Home for Dialysis

The economics of kidney disease in America is a hefty burden: about 26 million people in the U.S. have some aspect of chronic kidney disease and are at-risk of kidney failure. The number of people diagnosed with kidney disease doubled during each of the last two decades, according to the American Society of Nephrology. The annual cost of treating end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is over $32 billion, consuming 28% of Medicare expenditures…and increasing. Now consider the personal costs of dialysis in America: about $500 for a single hemodialysis treatment in a center, roughly $72,000 a year for one patient. There

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Medicines in America: The Half-Trillion Dollar Line Item

Prescription drug spending in the U.S. grew nearly 6% in 2016, reaching $450 billion, according to the QuintilesIMS Institute report, Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S., published today. U.S. drug spending is forecasted to grow by 30% over the next 5 years to 2021, amounting to $610 billion. In 2016, per capita (per person) spending on medicines for U.S. health citizens averaged $895. Specialty drugs made up $384 of that total, equal to 43% of personal drug spending, shown in the first chart. Spending on specialty drugs continues to increase as a proportion of total drug spending: traditional medicines’ share

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

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

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Financial Stress As A Health Risk Factor Impacts More Americans

A family in Orange County, California, paid a brother’s 1982 hospital bill by selling 50 pieces of their newly-deceased mother’s jewelry. “It’s what she wanted,” the surviving son told a reporter from The Orange County Register. The cache of jewelry fetched enough to pay the $10,000 bill. Patients in the U.S. cobble together various strategies to pay for healthcare, as the first chart drawn from a Kaiser Family Foundation report on medical debt attests. As health care consumers, people cut back on household spending like vacations and household goods. Two-thirds of insured patients use up all or most of their savings

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Consumer Healthcare Reviews on Yelp Help

Just as consumers use TripAdvisor, Zagat, OpenTable, and their Facebook pages to review restaurants, hotels, automobiles, and financial services companies, many patients – now health consumers in earnest – have taken to reviewing healthcare services in social networks. Finding reliable, understandable information about healthcare quality and prices is very challenging for most consumers. Are healthcare reviews on social networks statistically valid? An analysis of consumer ratings for New York State hospitals on Yelp, the social network, were positively correlated to objective scores of hospital quality, according to the research published in Yelp for Health: Using the Wisdom of Crowds to

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Telehealth and Virtual Healthcare Are Mainstreaming

As the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association convenes this week in Orlando, there’s a lot of telehealth news to curate. The topline of it all: virtual healthcare is mainstreaming, with more providers, payors, and patients aligning in support of virtual health care delivery. Three-quarters of providers have some form of basic telemedicine or telehealth in place. One-third of healthcare providers use some flavor of virtual care technology in their workflow, according to research from KPMG and HIMSS Analytics summarized in the first graphic. KPMG sees virtual care options — remote patient monitoring, enhanced portals, and web interactions for patient-provider

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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

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Slow Food As Medicine: Eating In Italian

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Finding Health in Consumer Goods

People want to live healthier lives, and consumer good companies are responding to these demands to keep and gain market share and profit margins. Consumer product firms reformulated over 180,000 consumer products in 2016 for in response to consumers’ health and wellness wishes, based on data collected by Deloitte for The Consumer Goods Forum project (CGF) and published in The CGF Health & Wellness Progress Report. The CGF is an industry network of some 400 consumer goods, retail, and service companies supporting the global adoption of standards and practices. This Report focused on the CGF members’ progress toward health and wellness

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Health Insurance Plans Rank Lowest In Consumer Experience

Consumers love their supermarkets, fast food shops, retailers, delivery services, and banks. These industries rank highest in the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings, my go-to source for understanding consumer service Nirvana. Health insurance companies and internet service providers (ISPs) are at the bottom of the Temkin Ratings, as shown in the first chart. Note that health plans range from a score approaching 70 to under 50, illustrating the very wide range of consumer experience from okay-to-good, too very poor. The top-ranked health plan was Kaiser Permanente, with a rating of 67%; Health Net was ranked the worst of the health plans

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Pharma Industry Reputation Declines Second Year In A Row

U.S. consumers love technology, retail, and consumer products; automotive company reputations are improving, even with Volkswagen’s emission scandal potentially tarnishing the industry segment. The only corporate sector whose reputation fell in 2016 was the pharmaceutical industry’s, according to the Harris Poll’s 2017 Reputation Quotient report. The line chart illustrates the decline of pharma’s reputation, which puts it on par with its consumer perceptions in 2010 — just before Medicare Part D was legislated and implemented, which improved pharma’s image among American health citizens (especially older patients who tend to be more frequent consumers of prescription drugs). Pharma’s reputation quotient is back

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The Fall of the TrumpCare is Retail Health’s Gain in 2017

The non-vote for and withdrawal of The American Health Care Act on March 24, 2017, was a win for the retail health market, at least in the short-run. Before the vote, there had been some pronouncements that the passage of the AHCA would have been a boon to retail health. Here’s one story stating that, “A boom in medical tourism to Mexico predicted if Obamacare ends.” Another article asserts, “Why the American Health Care Act Works for Retailers,” a public policy statement from the National Retail Federation (NRF). But NRF, please don’t fret. Retail health is consumer-driven and will persist beyond the

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Medical Bill Toxicity: 53% of Americans Say A Big Bill Is As Bad As A Serious Diagnosis

3 in 4 Americans’ health care costs have risen in the past few years. Two-thirds of Americans want to lower their costs, but don’t know how to do that. A survey from Amino released this week, conducted by Ipsos, has found that one in five people could not afford to pay an unexpected medical bill without taking on debt, and another 18% of Americans could only afford up to $100 if presented with an unexpected medical bill. This medical debt side effect more likely impacts women versus men, the less affluent, the unmarried, and those with no college degree. While

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Most Medicare Patients Haven’t Accessed Their EHR Information (Yet)

The HITECH Act, part of the Stimulus Bill (officially, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ARRA) invested $35 billion of U.S. taxpayer funds to incentivize health care providers (doctors and hospitals) to acquire and use electronic health record systems (EHRs). Most providers have taken advantage of these financial incentives, so that EHRs are now part of mainstream medical practice and workflow among providers. For patients, and particularly those enrolled in the government programs of Medicare and Medicaid, personal access to their personal data in EHRs has been largely elusive. While nearly 9 in 10 doctors and hospitals have offered these

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You Are The Expert of Your Own Health: adidas and The Future of Fit

The future of wellness combines: Connected (you) Social IRL (in-real-life) Banishing bad (de-tabooing what’s traditionally seen as “bad”) Humanizing data, and The end of experts. These insights come from adidas, whose team developed a forecast of the future of fit, announced at the 2017 South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin this weekend. I had the honor of participating in this forecast and shepherding the SXSW panel on The End of Experts: Crowdsourcing Your Wellness at the adidas meet-up held over the weekend. The future of fit and wellness is Connected, because we are growing to understand that balancing many elements in our daily

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Patients Grow Comfortable With Digital Health Tools, CDW Finds

It’s generally thought that healthy people are more health-engaged than people diagnosed with medical issues. But that’s old health school thinking: most health consumers managing chronic conditions say they’ve become more engaged with healthcare over the past two years, according to CDW’s 2017 Patient Engagement Perspectives Study. In 2017, 70% of patients told CDW they’d become more engaged with healthcare, up from 57% in 2016. That’s a 20% growth in the proportion of patients engaging in healthare in just one year. Growing signs of patient engagement are in people driven to access online patient portals for their personal healthcare records: People

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What’s the Future Of Fit? Join adidas At #SXSW17

The truest form of health reform and consumer-directed health care isn’t in a high-deductible health plan or a health savings account, and it doesn’t come out of Washington DC or your employer’s health benefits office. It comes from you in the form of self-care and DIY healthcare. In this case, think “inspired by sport, powered by you.” I’ll be participating on a panel at this weekend’s South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, along with three wellness innovators: Nick Buettner of the Blue Zones project, Mary Liz McCurdy of Google, and John Wilbanks from Sage Bionetworks. Together, our quartet will brainstorm the

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The Healthcare Reform Issue Americans Agree On: Lowering Rx Costs

Yesterday, the Tweeter-in-Chief President Donald Trump tweeted, “I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!” Those 140 characters sent pharma stocks tumbling, as illustrated by the chart for Mylan shares dated 7 March 2017. This is one issue that Americans across the political spectrum agree on with the POTUS. The latest Zogby poll into this issue, conducted for Prescription Justice, found 3 in 4 Americans agree that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder,” as President Trump said in a TIME magazine interview

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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

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Will Republican Healthcare Policy “Make America Sick Again?” Two New Polls Show Growing Support for ACA

Results of two polls published in the past week, from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Pew Research Center, demonstrate growing support for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Future Directions for the ACA and Medicaid was published 24 February 2017. The first line chart illustrates the results, with the blue line for consumers’ “favorable view” on the ACA crossing several points above the “unfavorable” orange line for the first time since the law was signed in 2010. The margins in February 2017 were 48% favorable, 42% unfavorable. While the majority of Republicans continue to be solidly

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Images of Health, Vitality and Life at #HIMSS17

The plane has left the Orlando airport, and I’m looking back at the past week at the 2017 annual meeting of HIMSS, the annual health IT conference that has been my pleasure and (foot) pain to attend for the past two+ decades (for real). Walking the exhibition floor, I encountered some new flavors of imaging that went way beyond bits and bytes, data and technology. These images spoke to me of health, vitality, and life. I’m sharing them with you here, with no intention of selling you company products or services but simply sharing some images that speak to these

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How Amazon Has Primed Healthcare Consumers – My Update with Frances Dare, Accenture

“I want what I want, when and how I want it.” If you think that sounds like a spoiled child, that’s not who I’m quoting. It’s you, if you are a mainstream consumer in the U.S., increasingly getting “primed” by Amazon which is setting a new bar for retail experience in terms of immediacy, customer service, and breadth of offerings. I talked about this phenomenon in my Health Populi post, How Amazon Has Primed Healthcare Consumers. The blog discussed my take on Accenture’s latest study into healthcare consumers based on the report’s press release. I appreciated the opportunity to sit

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Healthcare and the Autonomous Car: Setting the Stage for HIMSS17

The autonomous car is a metaphor for healthcare: that’s how my first interview kicking off the  HIMSS marathon began. The annual 2017 HIMSS conference isn’t your father’s or mother’s HIMSS of ten years ago, or even the HIMSS of 2010 — the year that financial incentives for EHR adoption began to stream from the HITECH Act of 2009, motivating thousands of healthcare providers to acquire and meaningfully use digital health records systems. Then, the HIMSS conference floor was abuzz with EHR frenzy. This week, over 43,000 people working at the intersection of healthcare and technology have converged in Orlando, Florida, for

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How Amazon Has Primed Healthcare Consumers

We are all Amazon Prime primed as consumers now. So it should not surprise healthcare providers, plans and suppliers that consumers expect just-in-time convenience for their healthcare, Accenture has found. Mind the gap: 8 in 10 U.S. patients would welcome some aspect of virtual healthcare, but only 1 in 5 providers is meeting that need. The consumer demand for virtual care is palpable for: Tracking biometrics, among 77% of consumers (say, for measuring blood pressure or blood glucose for people managing diabetes) Following up appointments, for 76% of people after seeing a doctor or being discharged from hospital Receiving reminders

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My $100 Flu Shot: How Much Paper Waste Costs U.S. Healthcare

An abbreviated version of this post appeared in the Huffington Post on 9 February 2017. This version includes the Health Populi Hot Points after the original essay, discussing the consumer’s context of retail experience in healthcare and implications for the industry under Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price — a proponent of consumer-directed healthcare and, especially, health savings accounts. We’ll be brainstorming the implications of the 2016 CAQH Index during a Tweetchat on Thursday, February 16, at 2 pm ET, using the hashtag #CAQHchat. America ranks dead-last in healthcare efficiency compared with our peer countries, the Commonwealth Fund

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Health Care Worries Top Terrorism, By Far, In Americans’ Minds

Health care is the top concern of American families, according to a Monmouth University Poll conducted in the week prior to Donald Trump’s Presidential inauguration. Among U.S. consumers’ top ten worries, eight in ten directly point to financial concerns — with health care costs at the top of the worry-list for 25% of people. Health care financial worries led the second place concern, job security and unemployment, by a large margin (11 percentage points) In third place was “everyday bills,” the top concern for 12% of U.S. adults. Immigration was the top worry for only 3% of U.S. adults; terrorism and

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Patients Anxiously Prep to Be Healthcare Consumers, Alegeus Finds

Healthcare consumers are in a “state of denial,” according to research conducted for Alegeus, the consumer health benefits company. Overall, 3 in 4 consumers feel fear when it comes to their healthcare finances: most people worry about being hit with unexpected healthcare costs they can’t afford, and nearly half fear they won’t be able to afford their family’s healthcare needs. The wordle illustrates consumers’ mixed feelings about healthcare: while people feel frustrated, overwhelmed, powerless, confused and skeptical about healthcare in America, there are some emerging adjectives hinting at growing consumer health muscle-building: optimistic, hopeful, supported, engaged, accountable. Still, denial and

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Americans Far More Likely to Self-Ration Prescription Drugs Due To Cost

Americans are more than five times more likely to skip medication doses or not fill prescriptions due to cost than peers in the United Kingdom or Switzerland. U.S. patients are twice as likely as Canadians to avoid medicines due to cost. And, compared with health citizens in France, U.S. consumers are ten-times more likely to be non-adherent to prescription medications due to cost. It’s very clear that more consumers tend to avoid filling and taking prescription drugs, due to cost barriers, when faced with higher direct charges for medicines. This evidence is presented in the research article, Cost-related non-adherence to prescribed

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Doctors See Benefits in Patient Engagement Via Health IT

A special report on patient engagement and digital technology was published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Based on a survey of doctors and healthcare executives, the research found that clinicians and managers welcome the opportunity to use digital tech — when it makes financial sense. That conclusion inspired the title of the article, Patient Engagement Survey: Technology Tools Gain Support – But Cost Is a Hurdle. NEJM polled 595 members of the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council, which included healthcare executives and clinicians who deliver healthcare. Here is NEJM’s scenario on patient-engaging health IT, a Holy Grail of sorts:

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Medical Debt Is A Risk Factor For Consumers’ Financial Wellness

The top reason US consumers hear from a debt collector is due to medical bills, for 6 in 10 people in Americans contacted regarding a collection. This month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published its report on Consumer Experiences with Debt Collection. Medical bill collections are the most common debt for which consumers are contacted by collectors, followed by phone bills, utility bills, and tax bills. The prevalence of past-due medical debt is unique compared with these other types because healthcare cost problems impact consumers at low, middle, and high incomes alike. Specifically: 62% of consumers earning $20,000 to

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Health Care For All — Only Better, US Consumers Tell Consumer Reports

Availability of quality healthcare, followed by affordable care, are the top two issues concerning U.S. consumers surveyed just prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th U.S. President. Welcome to Consumer Reports profile of Consumer Voices, As Trump Takes Office, What’s Top of Consumers’ Minds? “Healthcare for All, Only Better,” Consumer Reports summarizes as the top-line finding of the research. 64% of people are confident of having access to good healthcare, but 55% aren’t sure they can afford healthcare insurance to be able to access those services. Costs are too high, and choices in local markets can be spotty or non-existent.

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The Health Disparity of Information Access

Among many health disparities which mar healthcare quality in the United States, there’s another one to add to the list: health and healthcare information access. Access to health care is underpinned in large part on a health consumer’s access to information about available health care services, their location, price, and if the patient is very fortunate to glean, quality. As people take on more responsibility for managing their health care utilization and financing in America, their access to information that is easy-to-find, clear, comprehensive and current is critical to personal and public health outcomes. But consumers are dissatisfied with the

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Pharma’s Branding Problem – Profits Over Patients

Nine in 10 U.S. consumers think pharma and biotech put profits above patient interests, according to the latest Harris Poll studying reputation equity across organizations serving health care. Notice the relatively low position of the green bars in the first chart (with the exception of the impression for “strong financial performance); these are the pharma/biotech consumer impressions. The health industry stakeholders consumers believe would more likely place them above making money are health care providers, like doctors and nurses, hospitals, and pharmacists. Health insurance companies fare somewhat better than pharma and biotech in this Poll, although rank low on social

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More Consumers Use Retail Health Clinics for Healthcare Management, Harris Finds

1 in 5 U.S. adults used a retail clinic in 2016. Increasingly, health consumers seek care from retail clinics for more complex healthcare services beyond flu shots and pre-school exams, according to the Harris Poll’s survey, One in Five Adults Turn to Retail Health Clinics for Treatment, Prevention, and More, published January 5, 2017. Additional points the poll revealed are worth attention for public health policy purposes: Twice as many people who identify as LGBT turn to retail clinics than others (35% vs. 18%) Older people frequent retail clinics for flu vaccines more than younger people do More younger men

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How Consumers’ Health Economics Will Drive Personal Health-Tech Spending – My Lens on Digital Health at CES 2017

Consumers spend one in five dollars of their household budgets on healthcare in America. This fiscal reality is motivating more U.S. health citizens to seek information and control for their and loved ones’ health care. Personal health technologies will play a growing part in peoples’ self-care outside of the healthcare system and, increasingly, as part of their care prescribed by clinicians and (to some extent, for the short-term) paid-for by payors – namely, employers and government sponsors of health plans. This week is the Disneyland event for the personal tech aficionados known as CES (once called the Consumer Electronics Show).

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Consumers Want a Retail Experience in Healthcare

Why can’t the healthcare consumer experience be as easy as online banking? asks Tom Skelton, the CEO of Surescripts. That’s the expectation of most U.S. healthcare consumers, based on Surescripts latest survey results, summarized in the 2016 Connected Care and the Patient Experience report. The key findings are that U.S. consumers, Want their medical information delivered electronically, easily accessible and shareable; Are dissatisfied with the time and effort they spend on dealing with their medical information and waiting times in health care offices, both doctors and pharmacies; and, Prefer and expect innovative ways to get care and prescriptions. People are getting

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One-Half of Privately-Insured Americans Are Dissatisfied With Healthcare Costs

A plurality of Americans, 4 in 10, are dissatisfied with the healthcare costs they face. The level of dissatisfaction varies by a consumer’s type of health insurance, while overall, 42% of people are dissatisfied with costs… 48% of privately insured people are dissatisfied with thei healthcare costs 29% of people on Medicare or Medicaid are dissatisfied 62% of uninsured people are dissatisfied. Gallup has polled Americans on this question since 2014 every November. Dissatisfaction with healthcare costs is up from 38% from the period 2011-2013. As the line chart illustrates, the current levels of cost-dissatisfaction are similar to those felt

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Health Is Personal at the Connected Health Summit

“Because health is personal” is the tagline at the 2016 Connected Health Conference being held at the Gaylord Resort in National Harbor in metro Washington, DC. “Personal,” “Connected,” and “Health” are the three words that comprise the adjectives in the Personal Connected Health Alliance, the host of this conference. PCHA was formed through the merger of HIMSS, the health IT association, and Continua, the organization advocating for health technology “interoperability” — the ability for digital and communications technologies to communicate with each other, to remove friction from health data exchange. This week, PCHA announced that it will bring the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance into

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Fitness Wearables Are Popular on Black Friday 2016

Thanksgiving is about gratitude, family and food, hopefully in abundance. In millions of American households, Thanksgiving has also come to mean holiday shopping in the form of deep discounts starting as early as 3 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Holiday shopping has become something of a competitive sport for value-motivated consumers, and fitness tracking devices will be a big seller for gift-giving. Think of this phenomenon as gifting connected and digital health for the holidays, and part of the morphing retail health landscape beyond the pharmacy and into Big Box, consumer electronics, and discount stores. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) published

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Talk #EndOfLife at the End of the Thanksgiving Meal: Engage With Grace

“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 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 have the stories of long and painful endings, in institutional settings and costly, futile care. When you’re already in the situation of making tough health

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See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me – What The Who’s Tommy Can Teach Healthcare

“See me, feel me, touch me, heal me,” is the lyrical refrain from The Who’s Tommy. These eight words summarize what Deloitte has learned from the firm’s latest look into healthcare consumers, published in the report, Health plans: What matters most to the health care consumer. U.S. consumers’ demands for health care are for: Personalization from doctors, hospitals, and other care providers — the most important priority; Economically rational coverage and care choices; Convenience-drive access and care experience; and, Digitally connected care. Personalization is Job 1: “Consumers want to be heard, understood, and given clear directions through a personalized health care

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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

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Digital Health Continues to Grow at CES 2017

I attended CES Unveiled in New York this week, which is a preview of what will be featured at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2017. CES, previously known as the Consumer Electronics Show, is celebrating a 50 year anniversary, having been born in Manhattan in 1967 when transistor radios, stereos, and black-and-white TVs were all the rage. Today, CES is the world’s largest innovation event, and the longest-lived. 10 of the original 1967 exhibitors still show at CES, including 3M, Philips, Sharp, SONY, Toshiba, and Westinghouse, among others. Meet George Jetson, who might have been an attendee at

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Self-Care Is the Best Healthcare Reform

The greater a person’s level of health engagement, the better their health outcome will be. Evidence is growing on the return-on-investment for peoples’ health activation and how healthy they are. That ROI is both in survival (mortality) and quality of life (morbidity), as well as hard-dollar savings — personally bending-the-healthcare-cost-curve. But people are more likely to engage in “health” than “healthcare.” We’d rather ingest food-as-medicine than a prescription drug, use walking in a lovely park for exercise, and laugh while we’re learning about how to manage our health insurance benefits. Thus, Campbell’s Soup Company and Hormel are expanding healthy offerings,

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Hospitals Need to Cross the Health Consumer Chasm

Most U.S. hospitals have not put consumerism into action, a new report from KaufmanHall and Caden’s Consulting asserts from the second paragraph. Patient experience is the highest priority, but has the biggest capability gap for hospitals, the report calls out. KaufmanHall surveyed 1,000 hospital and health system executives in 100 organizations to gauge their perspectives on health consumers and the hospital’s business. KaufmanHall points out several barriers for hospitals working to be consumer-centered: Internal/institutional resistance to change Lack of urgency Competing priorities Skepticism Lack of clarity (vis-a-vis strategic plan) Lack of data and analytics. The key areas identified for consumer centricity

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Consumers Feel More Respect from Personal Care and Grocery Brands Than Pharma or Insurance

People feel like get-no-respect Rodney Dangerfield when they deal with health insurance, government agencies, or pharma companies. Consumers feel much more love from personal care and beauty companies, grocery and fitness, according to a brand equity study by a team from C Space, published in Harvard Businss Review. As consumer-directed health care (high deductibles, first-dollar payments out-of-pocket) continues to grow, bridging consumer trust and values will be a critical factor for building consumer market share in the expanding retail health landscape. Nine of the top 10 companies C Space identified with the greatest “customer quotient” are adjacent in some way to health:

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Looking for Amazon in Healthcare

  Consumers have grown accustomed to Amazon, and increasingly to the just-in-time convenience of Amazon Prime. Today, workers who sign onto employee benefit portals are looking for Amazon-style convenience, access, and streamlined experiences, found in the Aflac Workforces Report 2016. Aflac polled 1,900 U.S. adults employed full or part time in June and July 2016 to gauge consumers’ views on benefit selections through the workplace. Consumers have an overall angst and ennui about health benefits sign-ups: 72% of employees say reading about benefits is long, complicated, or stressful 48% of people would rather do something unpleasant like talking to their ex or

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How Value and Consumerism Will Reshape the $5 Trillion Healthcare Market

Existing healthcare industry players – the stakeholders of hospitals, physicians, pharma/life sciences, medical device manufacturers, and health plans – are operating in a whirlwind of change. While there are many uncertainties in this period of transition, there’s one operational certainty: learn to do more with less payment. That’s due to the growing pursuit of payors paying for value, not on the basis of volume or what’s “done” to a patient in care delivery. At the same time, another force re-shaping healthcare is interest and focus on wellness and health management. Combined with the growing health economic value proposition, wellness and

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Let’s Go Healthcare Shopping!

Healthcare is going direct-to-consumer for a lot more than over-the-counter medicines and retail clinic visits to deal with little Johnny’s sore throat on a Sunday afternoon. Entrepreneurs recognize the growing opportunity to support patients, now consumers, in going shopping for health care products and services. Those health consumers are in search of specific offerings, in accessible locations and channels, and — perhaps top-of-mind — at value-based prices as defined by the consumer herself. (Remember: value-based healthcare means valuing what matters to patients, as a recent JAMA article attested). At this week’s tenth annual Health 2.0 Conference, I’m in the zeitgeist

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The Reshaping Medical Tourism Market: More US Patients Seek Lower-Priced Care Overseas

More U.S. patients are faced with spending more out-of-pocket for health care services, to meet high-deductible health plans and rationally spend their health savings account investments. As rational economic men and women, some are seeking care outside of the United States where many find transparently priced, high-value, lower-cost healthcare. Check out the table from the Medical Tourism Association, and you can empathize with cash-paying patients looking for, say, gastric bypass surgery or a heart valve replacement. My latest column in the Huffington Post discussed this trend, which points first to the Cleveland Clinic — a top-tier American healthcare brand that’s

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Most Digital Health Consumers Say They Benefit from Connected Health

Managing stress, weight, mental health, sleep, and heart function are among the top-most desired reasons already-connected health consumers are interested in further connecting their health, according to The 2016 HealthMine Digital Health Report. The most popular tools people use to digitally manage their health deal with fitness and exercise (among 50% of connected health consumers), food and nutrition (for 46%), and weight loss (for 39%). 3 in 4 people who use digital health tools say they have improved their health by connecting to these tools. 57% of digital health users also say going health-digital has lowered their healthcare costs. The survey

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Employer Health Insurance Costs $18,142 in 2016, in KFF Study

Consumers face increasing health insurance deductibles in 2016, faster-growing than earnings and well above general price inflation, featured in the Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, 2016. This report, updated annually, is the go-to source on the availability of, cost for, and trends in U.S. employer-based health plans. The average annual health insurance premium in 2016 reached $18,142, the survey found, about $600 more than in 2015. Over the past ten years since 2006, workers’ contributions to health insurance premiums increased 78%; employers’ contributions grew 58% over the decade.   To help stem costs, employers are adopting new services to

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The State of Mobile Apps in 2016 and Healthcare Implications

Some of the fastest-growing mobile phone apps help people manage life-tasks every day, like getting real-time directions when driving, finding dates, getting rides, and tracking health, according to The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report from comScore. The chart from the comScore Mobile Metrix survey illustrates some popular apps well-used by people on smartphones, with one of the fastest growth rates found for the Fitbit app — 1,524% growth over two years, from June 2014 to June 2016. In comparison, the Uber app visits increased 828% in the period, half as fast, and the Tinder app, 220%. Some key topline results of

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7 Signs of the Retail Health Revolution

There are many signposts in the marketplace pointing the way toward the new retail health/care for consumers. They include: Food and exercise as the new medicine Loneliness as the new smoking as a health risk Prevention as the new sustainability Home as the new long-term care locus Balancing humanity and technology, the analog and the digital, and Retail as a center of the new healthcare ecosystem. Read more about the 7 Signs of the Retail Health Revolution,  published by Drug Store News. This graphic-rich publication was based on a speech I gave at a recent retail health summit convened with healthcare’s

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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.

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Knowing And Acting On How Patients Think Will Improve Health and Healthcare

“In the developed world, patient disengagement has become the new killer disease — not the lack of diagnostic devices, trained physicians or efficacious treatment options,” argues Andrea LaFountain, PhD, in her book, How Patients Think. Disbanding prescription drugs in advance of doctors’ instructions, postponing lab and diagnostic tests, and avoiding daily blood glucose testing when managing diabetes are just some examples of “how patients think” about health care and the many tasks involved in caring for oneself and the health of loved ones. But better understanding how patients think — technically speaking, the cognitive neuropsychology underneath the thinking — can

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PhRMA vs. Employers: Healthcare Costs In the Eye of the Beholder

In the past week, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the advocacy organization for the branded prescription drug industry, published Medicines: Costs in Context,” the group’s lens on the value of prescription drugs in the larger healthcare economy. Their view: that prescription drug costs comprise a relatively low share of health care spending in America, and a high-value one at that. PhRMA contends that 10% of the health care dollar was allocated to prescription drugs in 2015, the same proportion as in 1960. “Even with new treatments for hepatitis C, high cholesterol and cancer, spending on retail prescription

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Most US Doctors Say They Ration Patients’ Healthcare

Rationing has long been seen as a common practice in national, single-payer health systems like the UK’s National Health Service and Canada’s national health insurance program (known as “Medicare”).  However, over half of U.S. physicians say they ration care to patients. In a peer-reviewed column in the Journal of General Internal Medicine published in July 2016, Dr. Robert Sheeler and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, University of Iowa, and University of Michigan, found that 53% of physicians surveyed personally “refrained” in the past six months from using specific clinical services that would have provided the “best patient care” due to cost.

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The Future of Retail Health in 2027

As consumers gain more financial skin in the game of paying for health care, we look for more retail-like experiences that reflect the Burger King approach to consuming: having it our way. For health are, that means access, convenience, transparency and fair costs, respect for our time, and a clear value proposition for services rendered. That doesn’t happen so much in the legacy health care system — in hospitals and doctors’ offices. It has already begun to happen in retail health settings and, especially, in the changing nature of pharmacies. Retail Health 2027, a special supplement to Drug Store News

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The Connected Fitness Consumer

Personal fitness equipment is getting connected in the growing Internet of Things ecosystem (IoT), and fitness enthusiasts are getting more digitally connected well beyond their wristband tracking device. A survey conducted by ECRM and HellaWella, a healthy living portal, looked into fitness consumers’ digital habits and found a health-engaged cohort that’s online in the Web 1.0 world — sharing workout tips in social media communities but not so much product information. Product information is still learned Old School-wise, via product websites, traditional magazines, from peers and word-of-mouth (offline), and trying new gear out at the gym in real time. This

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US Health Care Prices Would Be Sticker-Shocking For Europeans

The average hospital cost per day in the U.S. is $5,220. In Switzerland it’s $4,781, and in Spain that inpatient day looks like a bargain at $424. An MRI in the U.S. runs, on average, $1,119. In the UK, that MRI is $788, and in Australia, $215, illustrated in the first chart. Drug prices are strikingly greater in the U.S. versus other developed nations, as shown in the first chart for Xarelto. If you live in the U.S. and have a television tuned in during the six o’clock news, chances are you’ve seen an ad for this drug featuring Arnold

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Retail Clinics Continue to Shape Local Healthcare Markets

Retail clinics are a growing source of primary care for more U.S. health consumers, discussed in a review of retail clinics published by Drug Store News in July 2016. There will be more than 2,800 retail clinics by 2018, according to Accenture’s tea leaves. Two key drivers will bolster retail clinics’ relevance and quality in local health delivery systems: Retail clinics’ ability to forge relationships with legacy health care providers (physicians, hospitals); and, Clinics’ adoption and effective use of information technology that enables data sharing (e.g., to the healthcare provider’s electronic health records system) and data liquidity (that is, securely moving

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In Healthcare, Pharmacists and Doctors Most Trusted. Insurance Execs and Congress? Not.

When consumers consider the many stakeholder organizations in healthcare, a majority trust pharmacists first, then doctors and dentists. Hospital and health insurance execs, and members of Congress? Hardly, according to a survey from Meyocks, a marketing consultancy. Meyocks conducted the survey via email among 1,170 US adults, 18 years of age and older. This survey correspondends well with the most recent Gallup Poll on most ethical professions, conducted in December 2015. In that study, pharmacists, nurses and doctors come out on top, with advertisers (“Mad Men”), car salespeople, and members of Congress at the bottom, as shown in the second

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Salesforce on the State of the Connected Patient: Willing But Not There Yet

About two-thirds of health consumers would be open to virtual health care options for non-urgent situations, according to the 2016 Connected Patient Report from Salesforce Research. Salesforce conducted the survey with the Harris Poll online among 2,025 U.S. adults in June 2016. 1,736 of these health consumers had health insurance and a primary care physician. Among the many findings in the report, Salesforce found that: In terms of communications and relationship… The vast majority of consumers with primary care physicians are very satisfied with them (91% of people with PCPs) However, one-third of people with a PCP believe their physicians would

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Color Me Well – Coloring Books As Rx for Wellness

Coloring books are best sellers in bookstores, craft merchandisers, newspaper stands, and on Amazon. Now, they’re joining the health and wellness world. The market growth of coloring books has been recognized in national media like the Washington Post, who called the phenomenon, “a bright spot in the financial results of publishers and retailers alike.” Nielsen Bookscan estimated that 12 million were sold in 2015, up from 1 million in 2014. Publishers Weekly covered the craze in November 2015. A Forbes column said, “The adult coloring craze continues and there is no end in sight.” Some of the mental health benefits

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The State of Health Benefits in 2016: Reallocating the Components

Virtually all employers who offer health coverage to workers extend health benefits to all full-time employees. 94% offer health care coverage to opposite-sex spouses, and 83% to same-sex spouses. One-half off health benefits to both opposite-sex and same-sex domestic partners (unmarried). Dental insurance, prescription drug coverage, vision insurance, mail order prescription programs, and mental health coverage are also offered by a vast majority (85% and over) of employers. Welcome to the detailed profile of workplace benefits for the year, published in 2016 Employee Benefits, Looking Back at 20 Years of Employee Benefits Offerings in the U.S., from the Society for Human

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Will the Big Box Store Be Your Health Provider?

“Gas ‘N’ Health Care” is one of my most-used cartoons these days as I talk with health/care ecosystem stakeholders about the growing and central role of consumers in health care. You may be surprised to learn that the brilliant cartoonist Michael Maslin created this image back in 1994. That’s 22 years ago. When I first started using this image in my meetings with health care folks, they’d all giggle and think, ‘isn’t that funny?’ Legacy health care players — hospitals, doctors, Pharma, and medical device companies — aren’t laughing at this anymore. At a Costco a 20 minutes’ drive from

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Love, Mercy and Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare – call it telemedicine, remote monitoring, or the umbrella term, telehealth – is coming of age. And it’s a form of healthcare that a growing percentage of consumers in the U.S. want. I’m in Branson, Missouri, today, meeting with the State’s Hospital Association to talk about consumers in the growing DIY health/care economy. So “telehealth,” broadly defined, is part of my message. This week Xerox announced its survey results focused on consumers’ interests in telehealth. “Xerox helps healthcare providers serve patients anytime, anywhere,” the press release starts. Convenience, cost-savings, and the ability to consult physicians quickly and get e-refills are

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Healthcare Costs for a Family of Four Will Be $25,826 in 2016

If you had exactly $25,826 in your pocket today, would you rather buy a new Chrysler 200 sedan, send a son or daughter to a year of college at Wake Forest University, or pay for your family’s health care in an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization? Welcome to the annual 2016 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), one of the most important health economic studies I’ve relied on for many years. This year’s underlying question is, “Who cooked up this expensive recipe?” posed in the report’s title. The key statistics in this year’s MMI are that: Healthcare costs for a typical family of four

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Most Americans Favor A Federally-Funded Health System

6 in 10 people in the US would like to replace the Affordable Care Act with a national health insurance program for all Americans, according to a Gallup Poll conducted on the phone in May 2016 among 1,549 U.S. adults. By political party, RE: Launch a Federal/national health insurance plan (“healthcare a la Bernie Sanders”): Among Democrats, 73% favor the Federal/national health insurance plan, and only 22% oppose it; 41% of Republicans favor it and 55% oppose it. RE: Repeal the ACA (“healthcare a la Donald Trump”): Among Democrats, 25% say scrap the ACA, and 80% of Republicans say to do

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One in Two People Use Wearable Tech in 2016

Nearly 1 in 2 people own at least one wearable device, up from 21% in 2014; one-third of people own more than one such device that tracks some aspect of everyday life, according to PwC’s latest research on the topic, The Wearable Life 2.0 – Connected living in a wearable world, from PwC. Wearable technology in this report is defined as accessories and clothing incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies, such as fitness trackers, smart glasses (e.g., Google Glass), smartwatches, and smart clothing. Specifically, 45% of people own a fitness band, such as a Fitbit, the most popular device in this

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GoHealthEvents, An Online Source For Consumer Retail Health Opportunities

“Health comes to your local store,” explains the recently-launched portal, GoHealthEvents. This site is a one-stop shop for health consumers who are seeking health screenings and consults in local retail channels like big box stores, club stores, drug stores, and grocery stores. Events covered include cholesterol, diabetes, heart health, nutrition, osteoporosis, senior health, vaccinations and immunizations. By simply submitting a zip code, a health consumer seeking these kinds of services can identify where and when a local retailer will provide it. I searched on my own zip code in suburban Philadelphia, and found the following opportunities taking place in the

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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

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Wearable Activity Tracking Device Purchasing Expected to Grow 11% in 2016

At the start of 2016, the current installed base of wearable activity tracking devices was just over 33 million in the U.S. This consumer market penetration is expected to grow by 11% in 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) forecast published in the 18th Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study. Wearable tech comprises a very small piece of the larger consumer technology market, led by TVs, smartphones, headphones (wired), DVD players, and notebook/laptop/netbook computers, the four largest rectangles in the graphic. However, there is growth momentum for emerging consumer tech segments such as portable wireless speakers,

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

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

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Patient Engagement – Secret In The Healthcare Sauce

Patient engagement is the new imperative in health care, writes Editor-in-chief Alan Weil in his introduction to the April 2016 issue of Health Affairs. It is appropriate and right that Judith Hibbard of the University of Oregon served as the theme adviser for the issue: she’s the innovator of the Patient Activation Measure and has frequently published her research in Health Affairs. Her own bottom-line: that the higher the patient activation, the less health care costs the health plan. (See a recent post on her research here on Health Populi). This issue of Health Affairs is a comprehensive primer on the

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Healthcare Vs New Entrants: A $1.5 T Problem

There’s an annual $1.5 trillion in revenues for the legacy healthcare system at stake by 2025, at risk of transferring to new entrants keen to please consumers, streamline physician practices, and provide new-new health insurance plans. A team from PwC has characterized this challenge in their strategy+business article, The Coming $1.5 Trillion Shift in Healthcare. Based on their survey of healthcare industry stakeholders and analyzing their economic model, the PwC team developed three scenarios about the 2025 healthcare market in the U.S. These are supply-driven, demand-driven, and equilibrium. The exhibit details each of these possible futures across various industry stakeholder

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Cost Comes Before “My Doctor” In Picking Health Insurance

Consumers are extremely price-sensitive when it comes to shopping for health insurance. The cost of health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays, prescription drug coverage and out-of-pocket expenses rank higher in the minds of health insurance shoppers than the list of doctors and hospitals included in a health plan for health consumers in 2015. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) surveyed 1,500 workers in the U.S. ages 21-64 for their views on workers’ satisfaction with health care in America. The results of this study are compiled in EBRI’s March 2016 issue of Notes, Views on Employment-based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2015 Health

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Honoring the Doctor-Patient Relationship

  March 30 this week was National Doctors Day, which was proclaimed a national celebration by President George Bush in 1991. But as I’ve written through this week here on Health Populi, doctors may enjoy prestige on the outside, but they’re hurting on the inside — both economically in medical/business practices, and emotionally in their personal career-lives. Patients tend to like, even love, their personal physicians based on years of consumer polls on the topic (usually themed, “love my own doctor, hate the health care system”). But physicians and their patients aren’t on the same page, literally, when it comes

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People Want Healthcare Sherpas

8 in 10 Americans would like one trusted person to help them figure out their health care, according to the Accolade Consumer Healthcare Experience Index Poll, conducted by The Harris Poll. The study gauged how Americans feel about their healthcare, especially focusing on employer-sponsored health insurance. One-third of people (32%) aren’t comfortable with navigating medical benefits and the healthcare system; a roughly percentage of people aren’t comfortable with their personal knowledge to make financial investments, either (35%). Buying a car, a home, technology and electronics? Consumers are much more comfortable shopping for these things. Consumers say that the most onerous

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