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Fastest-Growing Brands for 2021 Are About Digital Money, Social Connections and Boomers’ Best Lives

Two pharmaceutical companies bubble up among the 20 fastest-growing brands for 2021 in Morning Consult’s report on the Fastest-Growing Brands of 2021. But the surprise in this year’s top 20 brand rankings was that five of them addressed consumers’ financial flows: Coinbase, AfterPay. Cash App, Mastercard, Chime, and Bitcoin. One year ago when I covered this study, I found  that the fastest-growing brands of 2020 had everything to do with the pandemic. They dealt with home entertainment, digital connectivity, hygiene, and indeed, health (with Pfizer and AstraZeneca the two pharma brands top-of-mind for consumers). In this year’s update, exploring consumers’

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Best Buy Buys Current Health As Our Homes Morph Into Health Spaces

Best Buy continues to grow its health/care market footprint and service portfolio through remote health monitoring, first announced in the press release, Best Buy to acquire Current Health to help make home the center of health. The financial deal was disclosed yesterday at £300 million, about $400 million US dollars (FYI, Current Health is based in Scotland, thus value given in pounds sterling, with a particularly strong US $ exchange right now at 1.34). Remote monitoring has been part of Best Buy Health’s vision from the time the company explained its big audacious goals for the health ecosystem in 2018

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GoodRx Finds Optimistic Outlook for Telehealth Among Both Providers and Patients

Most health care providers who were using telehealth by August 2021 felt optimistic about virtual care in a study from GoodRx on The State of Telehealth. GoodRx collaborated with the ATA on the 624 U.S. provider survey, which was complemented by a poll conducted among 1,024 health consumers for the patient perspective in September 2021. Looking at the two columns at the right side of the first bar chart, clinicians who have been using telehealth were more likely to feel optimistic about doing so than providers who were not. The most prevalent platforms providers used for telehealth engagement were via Zoom,

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Does Inequality Matter in the U.S.? Health and the Great Gatsby Curve

Compared with the rest of the developed world, people living in the U.S. may be concerned about income inequality, but their demand for income redistribution is the lowest among peer citizens living in 31 other OECD countries. In their  latest report, Does Inequality Matter? the OECD examines how people perceive economic disparities and social mobility across the OECD 32 (the world’s developed countries from “A” Australia to “U,” the United Kingdom). Overall the OECD 32 average fraction of people who believe it is the government’s responsibility to reduce income differences among those who think disparities are too large is 80%

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Health Citizens Link Their Views on Democracy, the Economy and the Pandemic

The pandemic has put health care top-of-mind for health citizens the world over. As the public health crisis continues its up-and-downticks around the globe, people are connecting health care to their national economies and politics, based on a global survey from the Pew Research Center, Citizens in Advanced Economies Want Significant Changes to Their Political Systems. For this analysis, the Pew research team assessed the views of some 2,600 health citizens living in 17 developed countries in February 2021. The study report was published in late October 2021. Shown in the first bar chart, the majority of people in at least

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The Cost to Cover Health Insurance for a Family in America Is $22,221

Even with growing inflation in the U.S. and post-pandemic job growth in 2021, the cost of health insurance premiums rose faster than either the price of goods or wages. That family health plan premium reached $22,221, an increase of 22% since 2016, we learn in the annual report from Kaiser Family Foundation, 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. This report is our go-to encyclopedia of statistics on health insurance year-after-year, surveying companies’ annual health insurance strategies for coverage and tactics for managing spending and workers’ health outcomes. This 2021 update takes into account the impacts and influence of COVID-19 on workers’

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Effective Health Spending Is An Investment, Not a Cost: the Bottom-Line from OECD Health at a Glance 2021

“The pandemic has shown that effective health spending is an investment, not a cost to be contained: stronger, more resilient health systems protect both populations and economies,” the OECD states in the first paragraph of the organization’s perennially-updated report, Health at a Glance 2021. This version of the global report incorporates public health data from the “OECD35,” 35 nations from “A” to “U” (Australia to United States) quantifying excess deaths experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the obesity epidemic, mental and behavioral health burdens, and health care spending, among many other metrics. The first chart illustrates that calculation of excess deaths,

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Designing Digital Health for Public Health Preparedness and Equity: the Consumer Tech Association Doubles Down

A coalition of health care providers, health plans, technology innovators, NGOs, and medical societies has come together as the Public Health Tech Initiative (PHTI), endorsed by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) with the goal of advancing the use of trustworthy digital health to proactively meet the challenge of future public health emergencies….like pandemics. At the same time, CTA has published a paper on Advancing Health Equity Through Technology which complements and reinforces the PHTI announcement and objective. The paper that details the PHTI program, Using Heath Technology to Response to Public Health Emergencies, identifies the two focus areas: Digital health

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Health Consumers, Health Citizens, and Wearable Tech – My Chat with João Bocas

The most effective, engaging, and enchanting digital health innovations speak to patients beyond their role as health consumers and caregivers: digital health is at its best when it addresses peoples’ health citizenship. I had the great experience brainstorming the convergence of digital health, wearable tech, user-centered (UX) design, and health citizenship with João Bocas, @WearablesExpert, in a on his podcast. And if those topics weren’t enough, I wove in the role of LEGO for our well-being, “playing well,” and inspiring STEM- and science-thinking. João and I started our chat first defining health citizenship, which is a phrase I first learned from

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Still Struggling with Stress in America in 2021

“Americans remain in limbo between lives once lived and whatever the post-pandemic future holds,” the American Psychological Association observes in their latest read into Stress in America 2021, with this phase of the perennial study focused on Stress and Decision-Making During the Pandemic. The top-line: people face a daily web of risk assessment, up-ended routines, and endless news about the coronavirus locally and globally. While most people in the U.S. believe that “everything will work out” after the pandemic ends, the mental, emotional, and logistical daily distance between “now” and “then” brings uncertainty and indeed, prolonged stress. More Millennials, who

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Be Mindful About What Makes Health at HLTH

“More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 outbreak, the recent spread of the highly transmissible delta variant in the United States has extended severe financial and health problems in the lives of many households across the country — disproportionately impacting people of color and people with low income,” reports Household Experiences in America During the Delta Variant Outbreak, a new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. As the HLTH conference convenes over 6,000 digital health innovators live, in person, in Boston in the wake of the delta

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The Biggest Threat to Our Health Isn’t the Next Pandemic or Cancer…It’s Climate Change

Before the coronavirus emerged, the top causes of death in developed countries were heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and accidents. Then COVID-19 joined the top-10 list of killers in the U.S. and the issue of pandemic preparedness for the next “Disease X” became part of global public health planning. But the biggest health threat to human life is climate change, according to a new report from the World Health Organization titled The Health Argument for Climate Action. It’s WHO’s special report on climate change and health, dedicated to the memory of Ella Kissi-Debrah — a child who died succumbing to impacts

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Consider Mental Health Equity on World Mental Health Day

COVID-19 exacted a toll on health citizens’ mental health, worsening a public health challenge that was already acute before the pandemic. It’s World Mental Health Day, an event marked by global and local stakeholders across the mental health ecosystem. On the global front, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes the universal phenomenon and burden of mental health on the Earth’s people… Nearly 1 billion people have a mental disorder Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, impacting about 5% of the world’s population People with severe mental disorders like schizophrenia tend to die as much as 20 years earlier

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Health Privacy and Our Ambivalent Tech-Embrace – Lessons for Digital Health Innovators

A new look into Americans’ views on health privacy from Morning Consult provides a current snapshot on citizens’ concerned embrace of technology — worried pragmatism, let’s call it. This ambivalence will flavor how health citizens will adopt and adapt to the growing digitization of health care, and challenge the healthcare ecosystem’s assumption that patients and caregivers will universally, uniformly engage with medical tools and apps and technologies. More Boomers are concerned with health data app privacy than Gen Z consumers, as the chart illustrates. 46% of U.S. adults said that health monitoring apps were not an invasion of privacy; 32%

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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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Crossing the Pond by Plane in the Age of Corona – My View From the Hygienic Skies and on the Ground in Belgium

Years before we knew how to spell “coronavirus,” I gained Italian citizenship while retaining my U.S. citizenship. My family’s plan was to, soon thereafter, split time for work and life between the U.S. and the E.U. Then, COVID-19 emerged as a pandemic the world over, and the move to Brussels in January 2020 was quite short-lived. Now, the plan is in play and I’m writing this post from our home in Brussels, Belgium. Why Brussels? Among many smart reasons, the city is welcoming, our farm-to-table food style is doable, the walkability is brilliant, and the transportation options are accessible to

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Clinician Burnout in the Age of COVID

My latest essay for Medecision’s Liberation site digs into the sobering statistics on clinical burnout across the medical professions. From doctors to nurses, physician assistants and other licensed allied health human capital, our health care providers are in a world of hurt. This was initiated with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the public health crisis, Delta variant, and lack of universal precautions adopted by U.S. health citizens have exacerbated an already-challenging scenario for individual clinicians and the organizations with whom they work and collaborate. But there’s an even bigger picture, and that’s the risk clinician burnout in its

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A Negative Outlook for US Hospital Margins Through 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2021, U.S. hospital margins will still be lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaufman, Hall & Associates project in their latest read on hospital finances. Kaufman Hall has been monitoring hospitals’ financial health in the coronavirus era since March 2020, month-by-month. This new report looks into the Financial Effects of COVID-19: Hospital Outlook for the Remainder of 2021. This report was conducted on behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA), who succinctly summarized the forecast saying, “COVID-19 [is] expected to drive continued hospital losses throughout 2021.” That projection is further couched in the concern that

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Telehealth is Health: It’s Telehealth Awareness Week

In April 2020, telemedicine morphed into mainstream medical care as hospitals and physicians risk-managed exposure to infection by meeting with patients, virtually, when possible. By March 2020, telehealth channels were replacing visits to doctors and emergency departments as shown in the first chart from the CDC’s report on the early pandemic period. By the spring of 2021, telehealth use stabilized, but health systems had built the processes and policies to deliver on the promise of omni-channel health care — from the patient’s home and hands (via smartphones) into community sites closer-to-home, and returning to brick-and-mortar medical buildings. Welcome to Telehealth

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Necessity is the Mother(board) – How COVID-19 Inspires Local Communities to Build Broadband

“The simple fact is that the federal and state governments are doing almost nothing to help people who have a broadband service available that partially meets their needs but abuses them with regular price hikes, spotty reliability, and poor customer service. Local governments will continue to step in to build better networks because communities have very few other options.” That “necessity is the mother” motivation to build broadband comes from Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). [FYI, Mitchell’s Twitter handle is @communitynets]. Mitchell is quoted in the story, New data

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The Risk of Food and Nutrition Security in America – A Bipartisan Concern and Call-to-Action from the BPC

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in the U.S., a situation that was already challenging for millions of American families before the public health crisis emerged. While several Congressional and administrative actions were implemented in 2020 and the first half of 2021, the issue of food insecurity — defined as being unable to acquire enough food due to insufficient money or resources — remains a tragic aspect of daily living for many Americans — and especially for children who live in households where jobs have been lost and incomes reduced. Nutrition security has also been a health risk where people

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#LoveThyNeighbor – A Faith-Based Call for Vaccination

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) is urging Americans to “love thy neighbor” by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Sister Mary Haddad wrote in an editorial published in Modern Healthcare, published on September 3, 2021. Sister Mary is CEO and President of CHA. “Some may suggest that there are moral and religious concerns to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” Sister Mary observed. “We strongly affirm the position of the leaders of the Catholic Church: the vaccines are morally acceptable and getting vaccinated is “an act of love.” she asserted. CHA launched a portal on the act of love, featuring lots of science-based articles

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CVS (mental)Health – the growth of mental health @ retail

“CVS wants to be your therapist, too,” the Wall Street Journal reported on 31st August, discussing the plans of retail stores, Big Box and pharmacies, adding mental health services to their growing health/care portfolios. The coronavirus spawned an epidemic inside and beyond the pandemic throughout the U.S.: very clear and widespread mental and behavioral health impacts that have become a new and transparent normal in America. Enter CVS Health, joining retail health competitors such as Walgreens and Walmart, both of which have been growing services to help consumers access help to deal with anxiety, depression, and stress. The first chart

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Health Disparities in America: JAMA Talks Structural Racism in U.S. Health Care

“Racial and ethnic inequities in the US health care system have been unremitting since the beginning of the country. In the 19th and 20th centuries, segregated black hospitals were emblematic of separate but unequal health care,” begins the editorial introducing an entire issue of JAMA dedicated to racial and ethnic disparities and inequities in medicine and health care, published August 17, 2021. This is not your typical edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of American health care for so many people, including doctors. Since the second quarter of 2020,

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Nurses and Aides Are Beloved and Deserve Higher Pay; and a Spotlight on the Filipinx Frontline

A majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans agree that nurses are underpaid. Most Americans across political parties also believe that hospital executives are overpaid, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey analysis is aptly titled, Most Americans Agree That Nurses and Aides Are Underpaid, While Few Support Using Federal Dollars to Increase Pay for Doctors, . Insurance executives are also overpaid, according to 73% of Americans — an even higher percent of people than the 68% saying hospital execs make too much money. In addition to nurses being underpaid, 6 in 10

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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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Our Pandemic Lessons: Listening to Michael Dowling – a #HIMSS21 Wrap-Up

“We don’t un-learn,” Dr. Amy Abernethy asserted as she shared her pandemic perspectives on a panel with 2 other former U.S. health policy and regulatory leaders. The three spoke about navigating compliance (think: regulations and reimbursement) in an uncertain world. An uncertain world is our workplace in the health/care ecosystem, globally, in this moment. So to give us some comfort in our collective foxhole, my last post for this week of immersion in #HIMSS21 is based on the keynote speech of Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health. Dowling keynoted on the theme of “Leading for the Future,” sharing his lessons

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IoT and The Rise of the Machines in Healthcare

As connected devices proliferate within health care enterprises and across the health care ecosystem, cybersecurity risks abound. During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health care sector was profoundly affected by cyber-attacks on connected devices, we learn in the report, Rise of the Machines 2021: State of Connected Devices – IT, IoT, IoMT and OT from Ordr. For this annual report, Ordr analyzed security risks across over 500 deployments in healthcare, life sciences, retail, and manufacturing sectors for the 12 months June 2020 through June 2021. In health care, outdated operating systems present some of the greatest risks:

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Healthcare Via the Cloud, Across the Enterprise and in the Patient’s Home – a Sustainable View from Philips at HIMSS 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a reappraisal of value-based care, a shift to remote and virtual care, and acceleration of healthcare stakeholders’ investments in Artificial Intelligence-based solutions, Philips discovered in the 2021 Future Health Index, the company’s latest survey conducted among 2,800 health care leaders working in 14 countries. This week at the 2021 annual HIMSS conference, Philips is “making the case for moving to the cloud,” discussing the Philips HealthSuite, a cloud-based platform for connecting providers and patients, devices (and the data they generate), and care across the health care continuum. That’s a big promise and vision, so to kick

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Zoom Became a Household Name in the Pandemic. It’s Working to Do the Same in Healthcare – At #HIMSS21

The COVID-19 pandemic digitally transformed most people living in the U.S., re-shaping consumers to work from home when possible, go to school there, and buy all manners of goods and services via ecommerce. In March 2021, Zoom conducted research into the question, “how virtual do we want our future to be?” posing that to thousands of citizens living in 10 countries including the U.S. As the first chart from the study illustrates, most people in America expect hybrid lifestyles, from fitness and retail to entertainment and education. And 7 in 10 U.S. health citizens want their health care to be

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Empathy Is As Important as the Medical Treatment – the 2021 Accenture Health Experience As Backdrop to HIMSS 2021

The rise of digital health investment and growing role of technology in health care services only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, people took on their own versions of digital transformation at home, for work, for school, for cooking, shopping, and indeed, for health care. But with digital health adoption gains has come some ambivalence and mixed signals, Accenture has discovered in its 2021 Health and life Sciences Experiences Survey released this week during the HIMSS Annual Conference. As the report concludes, “people’s sentiments and behaviors” with respect to technology in health care “provide no clear answer.”

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Can the U.S. Improve Health System Performance with Digital Health Tools? Pondering A Big Question for #HIMSS21

Simply put, is the equation, “Spend more, get less” a sustainable business model? Of course not. But that’s the simple math on U.S. health care spending and what comes from it, according to Mirror, Mirror 2021: Reflecting Poorly, a perennial report from The Commonwealth Fund that compares health system performance across eleven developed countries. The first table details the metrics that the Fund compares across the eleven peer nations, which included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The metrics compared were access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity,

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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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Women’s Health Re-shaped by COVID-19

While women continue to outlive men in the U.S. in terms of life expectancy, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed continued healthcare access, physical and mental health disparities, and economic inequities for women in America. I addressed the changing state of post-pandemic women’s health in my latest contribution to the Medecision Liberation blog. This first graphic illustrates how women interacted with the U.S. health system during the pandemic in 2020. These data come from Kaiser Family Foundation’s women’s health survey conducted from the beginning of the pandemic starting March 1, 2020, and discovered that women in poorer or fair more likely went

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Regulation, Reimbursement, and Interoperability Block Health Systems’ Digital Transformation – The State of Healthcare in 2021 From HIMSS

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic motivated health care providers, payers, and patients to adopt digital tools and contact-less services, allowing people to deliver and receive medical care. Still, 18 months into the pandemic, now endemic and in its fourth wave of cases spiking around the world and in many parts of the U.S., some aspects of “digital transformation” seem not to have fully transformed American healthcare, we learn in HIMSS’s annual 2021 State of Healthcare Report. HIMSS collaborated with the organizations Trust  Accenture, The Chartix Group, and ZS on this year’s research. Nine in ten clinicians have recommended

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Digital Health Tools Are Finding Business Models – IQVIA’s 2021 Read on the Health of Digital Health

In the Age of COVID, over 90,000 new health apps were released, as the supply of digital therapeutics and wearables grew in 2020. Evidence supporting the use of digital health tools if growing, tracked in Digital Health Trends 2021: Innovation, Evidence, Regulation, and Adoption from IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. IQVIA has been closely following the growth, investment in, and clinical evidence for digital health since 2013, when I reviewed their first paper on “mHealth” here in Health Populi.  Then, IQVIA evaluated the universe of about 40,000 apps available in the iTunes store. In today’s report, the company quantifies

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CVS Finds Differences in Mental and Behavioral Health Among Men Vs. Women in the Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic shifts to a more endemic phase — becoming part of peoples’ everyday life for months to come — impacts on peoples’ mental health will persist, according to new research from CVS Health in the company’s annual Health Care Insights Study. CVS conducted the annual Health Care Insights Study among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2021. To complement the consumer study, an additional survey was undertaken among 400 health care providers including primary care physicians and specialists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RNs and pharmacists. CVS has been tracking the growing trend of health care consumerism in the

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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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The Many Factors That Make a Child’s Well-Being Build Our Adult Health – the Aspirational OECD Framework

The ultimate health and wellbeing of an adult depends on the factors that shape us when we are children. A new, deep report from the OECD, Measuring What Matters for Child Well-being and Policies, spells out the many domains of experience that, together, bolster our whole health as we grow from child to adult. The first chart presents the OECD’s framework for measuring child well-being, calling out the nature of being “aspirational.” This re-look at children’s health data is aspirational because it is laying out how to best measure child well-being to set the bar higher for doing so. It addresses

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Digital Inclusion As Upstream Health Investment

Without access to connectivity during the pandemic, too many people could not work for their living, attend school and learn, connect with loved ones, or get health care. The COVID-19 era has shined a bright light on what some of us have been saying since the advent of the Internet’s emergence in health care: that digital literacies and connectivity are “super social determinants of health” because they underpin other social determinants of health, discussed in Digital inclusion as a social determinant of health, published in Nature’s npj Digital Medicine. On the downside, lack of access to digital tools and literacies

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The Healthiest Communities in the U.S. After the Pandemic – U.S. News & Aetna Foundation’s Post-COVID Lists

Some of America’s least-healthy communities are also those that index greater for vaccine hesitancy and other risks for well-being, found in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Healthiest Communities Rankings. U.S. News collaborated with the Aetna Foundation, CVS Health’s philanthropic arm, in this fourth annual list of the top geographies for well-being in the U.S. Six of the top ten healthiest towns in America are located in the state of Colorado. But #1 belongs to Los Alamos County, New Mexico, which also ranked first in ___. Beyond Colorado and New Mexico, we find that Virginia fared well for health in

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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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The Healthcare and Macro-Economic Impacts of Living with Endemic COVID – Listening to Fitch

Getting totally rid of the coronavirus isn’t likely, so we humans must accept the fact that SARS-CoV-2 will be endemic. The economic and healthcare system impacts of this were explored in the Post-Covid Healthcare Landscape, delivered by Fitch Solutions’ Jamie Davies and Beau Noafshar, leaders in the Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, and Medical Devices groups. I welcomed the opportunity to learn from this team’s approach in weaving together the dynamic issues that help us to plan for the long-tail of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy and prospects for the health care industry and health citizens. The first graph illustrates the

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5.5 Million Years of Life Will Be Lost Due to COVID-19 in the U.S. in 2020

In 2020 in the U.S., 380,000 people are expected to die due to COVID-19. These people lost due to the coronavirus would, collectively, have lived another 5.5 million life-years would they not have succumbed to the virus. COVID-19 has cut lives short relative to their life expectancy, calculated in an analysis by the Pew Research Center based on CDC data from 2019 and 2020, coupled with additional statistics on life expectancy by age and gender. The bottom-line from the Pew Research Center’s analysis, simply stated, is that, “The pandemic…has killed many Americans who otherwise might have expected to live for

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The Stress of the Caregiver: The Most Over-Utilized, Unpaid Stakeholder in U.S. Healthcare

We’ve long know that “the patient” has been an under-utilized resource in the U.S. healthcare system since Dr. Charles Safran testified with that statement to Congress way back in 2004…an era where bipartisanship for health IT was a real thing. Today, with the insights of Alexandra Drane (Founder of ARCHANGELS) and Dr. Nirav Shah (of Stanford University), we know that caregivers are among the most over-utilized resources in the U.S. healthcare system — overused, over-stressed, under-paid, detailed n How Health Systems Can Care for Caregivers, published in the NEJM Catalyst July 2021 issue. In this study, Drane and Shah analyze

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The Digital Home: A Platform for Health, via Deloitte and the COVID-19 “Stress Test”

Wherever you live in the world touched by the coronavirus pandemic, you felt (and were) stress-tested. Both you were, and your home was as well. In this year’s 2021 annual report by Deloitte into Connectivity & Mobile Trends, their report details How the pandemic has stress-tested the crowded digital home. This analysis was done, as it is every year, by the Deloitte Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications. Deloitte’s Center commissioned an online survey among 2,009 U.S. consumers to gauge five generations of peoples’ perspectives on connected life in the context of COVID. The report covers the various life-flows of

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Aging Populations of Consumers and Physicians Underpin the Future Doctor Shortage

The U.S. will be short as many as 124,000 physicians in 2034, according to The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand Projections From 2019 to 2034 from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Published 11th June 2021, the report was prepared by IHS Markit Ltd. and updates AAMC’s six previous annual reports on physician workforce projections. In this year’s projections, AAMC considers the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician supply, new to this report. Another timely feature in the 2021 study is the Health Care Utilization Equity Scenario which provides a baseline looking at inequities in access

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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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What Do Democrats and Republicans Agree On? Allowing Negotiations to Lower Rx Prices

People living in the U.S. have weathered over fifteen months of life-shifts for work, school, prayer, fitness, and social lives. So you might think that the most important public priority for Congress might have something to do with COVID-19, vaccines, or health insurance coverage. But across all priorities, it turns out that prescription drug costs rank higher in Americans’ minds than any other issue in the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll for May 2021. Two-thirds of U.S. adults said that allowing the federal government and private insurance plans to negotiate for lower prices on Rx drugs was their top

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The Cost of Health Care for a Family of 4 in America Will Reach $28,256 in 2021

The good news for health care costs for a family of four in America is that they fell, for the first time in like, ever, in 2020. But like a déjà vu all over again, annual health care costs for a family of four enrolled in a PPO will climb to over $28,000 in 2021, based on the latest 2021 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). The first chart shows how health care costs declined in our Year of COVID, 2020, by over $1,000 for that hypothetical U.S. family. But costs rise with a statistical vengeance this year, by nearly $2,200 per family–about

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Wearables Are Good For Older People, Too — The Latest From Laurie Orlov

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a whole lot of digital transformation for people staying home. For digital natives, that wasn’t such an exogenous shock. For older people who are digital immigrants, they will remember their initial Zoom get-together’s with much-missed family, ordering groceries online in the first ecommerce purchase, and using telemedicine for the first time as a digital health front-door. Laurie Orlov,  tech industry veteran, writer, speaker and elder care advocate, is the founder of the encyclopedic Aging and Health Technology Watch website. She takes this propitious moment to assess The Future of Wearables and Older Adult in a new report.

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Trust in Healthcare is Under Stress in the US and Globally, Edelman Finds

You’re stressed, I’m stressed; most of us have felt stress in the COVID-19 era which began in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2020. Nearly eighteen months later, a 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer update finds that consumers’ trust in the health care industry is under stress, too — in the U.S. and around the world. The first chart from the Edelman health care update demonstrates that in most countries polled, health citizens’ trust in health care was buoyed in the first five months of 2020 (January through May): up 18 points in the U.S., 14 points in Canada 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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Nurses Hacking for Health and Compassionomics

The hearts and minds of nurses are fertile and inspirational sources and engines for health care innovation. This past weekend, and for the second time, I had the privilege and opportunity to be a panelist for the perennial hackathon meet-up of Nurse Hack 4 Health, sponsored by Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Sonsiel, and DevUp. This round, the hackathon attracted hundreds of nurses from at least 20 countries and 30 U.S. states. Even a few students attended, a growing trend as academia recognizes the shortage of workers trained to solve thorny problems of the world. In health care, right here, right

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Health and Getting Outside – What the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 Brands Mean for Health/Care

We want to go outside, drive our cars, shop for groceries, stay and get healthy. These are the key themes coming out of the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 on the most visible brands with high (and low) reputations among U.S. consumers. In the top-ranked “excellent” and “very good” brands numbered 1 through 50, we find five core health care brands that were most visible to U.S. consumers: Moderna ranked #3, Pfizer #7, CVS Health #24, Walgreens #46, and Kaiser Permanente #47. The only pure healthcare brand in the bottom 50 was Johnson & Johnson at #72, between Dollar General

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COVID-19 Accelerated Digital Health Investments…But It Helps to Be Bigger, Mature and Scaling

“Compare digital health to airlines, cruise lines, and other industries” and the sector looks quite privileged, opined Matthew Holt in a discussion on a study diving deeply into the State of Digital Health, conducted by Catalyst @ Health 2.0 and sponsored by WIPFLI.. The research was conducted among 335 respondents, which included 182 digital health companies polled between November 2020 and March 2021. Digital health companies represented 60% of the sample, the other 40% of which were consulting firms, subsidiaries of providers/payers/life science companies and tech corporations, and investors. As Matthew called out, the digital health sector has a relatively

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Getting Vaccinated Has Mental Health Benefits, Walgreens Finds

Most people in the U.S. who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot have a welcoming side-effect: peace of mind and mental health, according to a survey conducted by Walgreens in April 2021. Three in four people said that getting vaccinated positively impacted their mental health, feeling some kind of relief, thankfulness, or optimism, among other sentiments. Walgreens conducted the poll online among 1,500 U.S. adults over 18 years of age between April 19 and 21st, 2021. The activities people are most excited to do once vaccinated with full immunity are to see family and friends (among 60% of

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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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How Virtual Care is Morphing into “Just” Healthcare – my post in Medecision Liberation

The pandemic accelerated many Very Big Deals in digital health venture capital investment, mergers and acquisitions, and the re-emergence of SPACs in health care. A closer look at this activity points to a key trend that will persist post-pandemic: that telehealth and the broader theme of virtual care is re-shaping how health care is delivered. This graphic comes out of my current thinking about telehealth across the continuum of care. Before the pandemic, the dominant work-flow for telemedicine was for triage, primary care and pediatrics (think: your child registers a 105-degree fever on a Saturday night and the pediatrician’s office

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Consumers’ Health Concerns Grow in the Pandemic Across All Categories – And More Trust Virtual Care

While the “in-person” visit to a doctor or medical professional continues to rank first as consumers’ most-trusted information source, the virtual doc or clinician rose in trust during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Euromonitor’s latest read on Consumer Health: Changes in Consumer Behaviour during COVID-19 . The first four most-trusted sources for health information in 2021 remained the same short-list from 2020: doctors in-person, pharmacists, nutritionists and dieticians, and government or NGOs. But fifth place slipped from family and friends to the pharma industry, and sixth in line went to virtual doctors or medical professionals rising from 9th place in

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Spending on Medicines In and Post-COVID Say a Lot About Patients and Larger Healthcare Trends – an IQVIA Update

Spending on medicines, globally, will rebound this year and rise above pre-pandemic levels through 2025. Between 2021 and 2025, the annual growth global growth rate for prescription drugs spending is expected to range from 3% to 6%, a $1.6 trillion bill for the worlds’s total Rx medicines market. That relatively low single-digit growth rate is tempered by savings from biosimilars and the loss of brand exclusivity (that is, more generics coming to market). On the faster-growth side, we can expect two big therapeutic areas to drive spending upward: oncology and immunology, projected to expand by 9% to 12% each year

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Health Disparities and the Risks of Social Determinants for COVID-19 – 14 Months of Evidence

In April 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a report featuring evidence that in the month of March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was not an equal-opportunity killer. Within just a couple of months of COVID-19 emerging in America, it became clear that health disparities were evident in outcomes due to complications from the coronavirus. An update from that early look at differences in COVID-19 diagnoses and mortality rates was published in Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Current Evidence and Policy Approaches, In this report, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, part of

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Virtual Health Tech Enables the Continuum of Health from Hospital to Home

In the COVID-19 pandemic, as peoples’ daily lives shifted closer and closer to home, and for some weeks and months home-all-the-time, health care, too, moved beyond brick-and-mortar hospitals and doctors’ offices. The public health crisis accelerated “what’s next” for health care delivery, detailed in A New Era of Virtual Health, a report published by TripleTree. TripleTree is an investment bank that has advised health care transactions since 1997. As such, the team has been involved in digital health financing and innovation for 24 years, well before the kind of platforms, APIs, and cloud computing now enabling telehealth and care, everywhere. The

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Health, the Great Unifier (For Most)

As the COVID-19 expanded peoples’ consciousness about infectious disease and opportunities to keep a tricky virus at bay, consumers grew new muscles about public and individual wellness…now, “more invested in achieving it,” according to In Health We Trust, a survey report from Healthline Media. To gauge Americans changing perspectives on personal health, HealthLine conducted surveys among 1,533 U.S. consumers age 18 and over in February 2020 (just about the time the coronavirus pandemic was emerging in the U.S.) and 1,577 consumers in December 2020. One of the subtle shifts in health care consumerism concerns cost, which before the pandemic has

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How Footwear Became Our Favorite Apparel Item in the Pandemic

Our feet have become an important health focus during the pandemic, as the importance of exercise-as-medicine and mental health helper has looked to walking, running, and biking as good-for-us physical activities. The Mayo Clinic published an informative piece on Feet and the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Cleveland Clinic posted advice on exercising during the pandemic earlier this month with the strong recommendation of walking. So it makes sense that the apparel category whose brand equity grew most between 2020 and 2021 was footwear, announced in the Brand Finance Apparel 50. Each year, Brand Finance evaluates the value of “brands,” as

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A Year Into COVID19, Mental Health Impacts Heavier on Moms Than Dads in America

In the summer of 2020, four months into the pandemic, one-half of people living in the U.S. felt worry or stress related to the coronavirus that had a negative impact on their mental health. Over a year into the COVID-19 in America, nearly one-half of people still have negative mental health impacts due to the coronavirus, based on research from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published in their April 2021 update on the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Note the line in the bar chart from the study has flat-lined and settled at just about 50% of U.S.

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The Post-COVID 19 Health Consumer: Ready for DIY Health Care and More Open to Telehealth

The COVID-19 pandemic has re-shaped consumers for work, school, fitness, cooking, and certainly for health care. PwC’s Health Research Institute has combed through their consumer survey data and developed insights on health consumers, shared in a summary titled Consumer health behavior and the COVID-19 pandemic: What we’ve learned. Most U.S. consumers would be likely to have a clinician visit their homes for several kinds of medical care, including: “DIY care,” as PwC exemplifies as a home strep or flu test, or remote monitoring, likely among 85% of people A chronic care visit, likely for 78% of consumers A visit for

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The Pandemic’s Death Rate in the U.S.: High Per Capita Income, High Mortality

The United States has among the highest per capita incomes in the world. The U.S. also has sustained among the highest death rates per 100,000 people due to COVID-19, based on epidemiological data from the World Health Organization’s March 28, 2021, update. Higher incomes won’t prevent a person from death-by-coronavirus, but risks for the social determinants of health — exacerbated by income inequality — will and do. I have the good fortune of access to a study group paper shared by Paul Sheard, Research Fellow at the Mossaver-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. In reviewing

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Emerging with A Stronger Healthcare System Post-COVID: NAM’s Lessons Learned

The coronavirus pandemic exposed weaknesses in the U.S. health care system that existed before the public health crisis. What lessons can be learned from the COVID-19 stress-test to build American health care back better? The National Academy of Medicine is publishing nine reports addressing health stakeholder segments impacted and re-shaped by COVID-19 — for public health, quality and safety, health care payers, clinicians, research, patients-families-communities, health product manufacturers, digital health, and care systems. The report on health care systems and providers was released this week:  COVID-19 Impact Assessment: Lessons Learned and Compelling Needs was authored by experts on the front-line

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Trust-Busted: The Decline of Trust in Technology and What It Means for Health

Trust in the technology industry has crashed to an all-time low based on the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. As Richard Edelman, CEO, concisely asserted, “Tech loses its halo.” The first chart shows the one-year trend on trust across industries through U.S. consumers’ eyes. Most industries lost citizens’ trust between 2020 and 2021, most notably, Technology, dropping the greatest margin at 9 points Retail, falling 7 points, Entertainment. falling 5 points, and, Fashion and automotive declining by 4 points. Several sectors’ trust equity rose in the year, especially healthcare growing by 8 points and food and beverage rose slightly by 2

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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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Housing as Prescription for Health/Care – in Medecision Liberation

COVID-19 ushered in the era of our homes as safe havens for work, shopping, education, fitness-awaking, bread-baking, and health-making. In my latest essay written for Medecision, I weave together new and important data and evidence supporting the basic social determinant of health — shelter, housing, home — and some innovations supporting housing-as-medicine from CVS Health, UnitedHealth Group, AHIP, Brookings Institution, the Urban Land Institute, and other stakeholders learning how housing underpins our health — physical, mental, financial. Read about a wonderful development from Communidad Partners, working with the Veritas Impact Partners group, channeling telehealth to housing programs serving residents with

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The Rise of the Homebody Economy and Healthcare to the Home

As the coronavirus crisis stretched from weeks into months, now over one year since being defined as a pandemic, U.S. consumers have made significant investments into their homes for working, educating students, cooking, and working out. Welcome to the “rebalancing of the homebody economy,” in the words of McKinsey, out with new data on consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis. The continued penetration of vaccines-into-arms in the U.S. is fanning optimism in terms of household economics, personal spending — especially on experiences that get folks “out” of the house. Still, the Homebody Economy will persist even post-COVID, with a growing

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How Fruits and Veg Can Make Health and Lower Costs – Calling Chef José Andrés to the White House

Springtime is finally emerging on the east coast of the U.S. and my local CSA farm is on my mind. It’s timely, then, to re-visit a research paper on subsidizing fruits and vegetables from a March 2019 issue of PLOS as an introduction to a new initiative growing out of The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) on produce prescriptions. Timely, too, that Chef José Andrés has been called to President Biden’s White House to help address food security in America. First, let’s look at the research in PLOS: Cost-effectiveness of financial incentives for

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How Grocery and Retail Companies Are Delivering Health and Healthcare

The Wall Street Journal featured the grocery chain Kroger in an article yesterday titled, COVID-19 Vaccinations, Tests Give Boost to Kroger’s Health Ambitions. “With 2,250 pharmacies and 220 clinics largely in the Midwest and the southern U.S., Kroger is the fourth-largest pharmacy operator by script count,” the Journal noted, adding details about Walmart, CVS Health, and Walgreens all fast-expanding their respective health care footprints. As more consumers view their homes as personal and safe health havens, there is no shortage of suppliers in the food, retail, and mobility sectors working fast to meet that demand for convenient and accessible services.

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The Patient Safety Issue of Racial Disparities and the Opportunity for “Health Equity By Design”

In 2021, racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare are a top patient safety issue, according to ECRI’s annual list of major concerns facing healthcare consumers’ risks to adverse events that can harm them. ECRI has published their annual Top 10 list since 2018, when the list featured diagnostic errors, o behavioral health needs in acute care settings, and patient engagement and health literacy — all of which play into this year’s #1 issue, racial and ethnic disparities in health care. In fact, among the risks in this year’s Top Ten list, eight were accelerated and highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic

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The Continued Erosion of Trust in the Age of COVID

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans are still in “survival mode,” according to an update of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, Trust and the Coronavirus in the U.S. Updating the company’s annual Trust Barometer, Edelman conducted a new round of interviews in the U.S. among 2,500 people in early March. [For context, you can read my take on the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer published during the World Economic Forum in January 2021 here in Health Populi].  The first chart shows that two in three people in the U.S. are still in a pandemic mindset, worried about safety and

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Stress in America, One Year into the Pandemic – an APA Update on Parents, Healthcare Workers, and Black Americans

A Year into our collective coronavirus experience, Americans remain stressed, with physical health taking a back seat to our daily grinds based on the 2021 Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA has been updating us on U.S.-stress for several years, and more frequently since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of 2020. In their latest report, APA updates their previous profiles of Americans’ stress looking into different demographic groups and coping mechanisms. The topline, across all adults living in America, is that one-half have delayed or cancelled health care services. One-half has

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How Young People Are Using Digital Tools to Help Deal with Mental Health

After a year of living with and “in” the coronavirus pandemic, younger people in the U.S. have had to deal with over twelve months of quarantine and lockdown, going to school remotely from home, and distancing from friends. For most young people, the public health crisis has been more about that social distancing from friends, a collective sense of isolation, and mental and behavioral health impacts. These dynamics and these young health citizens’ coping mechanisms are captured in the report, Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health. Three organizations collaborated to conduct and

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The Ongoing Reality of COVID-19 – My Conversation with Dr. Michael Osterholm at SXSW

“So close and yet so far” feels like the right phrase to use a year after the World Health Organization used the “P-word,” “pandemic,” to describe the coronavirus’s impact on public health, globally. One year and over 550,000 COVID-related deaths in the U.S. later, we face a New Reality that Dr. Michael Osterholm and I are brainstorming today at the 2021 South-by-Southwest Festival. Usually held live and very up-close-and-personally crowded in Austin, Texas, this year we are all virtual — including the film, music, and interactive festivals alike. While I regret to not be in the same room as Dr.

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A BA Degree as Prescription for a Longer Life – Update on Deaths of Despair from Deaton and Case

“Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States,” according to an essay in PNAS, Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed by Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Case and Deaton have done extensive research on the phenomenon of Deaths of Despair, the growing epidemic of mortality among people due to accidents, drug overdoses, and suicide. Case and Deaton wrote the book on Deaths of Despair (detailed here in Health Populi),  Case and Deaton

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How to Restore Americans’ Confidence in U.S. Health Care: Deal With Access and Cost

With a vaccine supply proliferating in the U.S. and more health citizens getting their first jabs, there’s growing optimism in America looking to the next-normal by, perhaps, July 4th holiday weekend as President Biden reads the pandemic tea leaves. But that won’t mean Americans will be ready to return to pre-pandemic health care visits to hospital and doctor’s offices. Now that hygiene protocols are well-established in health care providers’ settings, at least two other major consumer barriers to seeking care must be addressed: cost and access. The latest (March 2021) Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll learned that at least one

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“Hope Springs Eternal” With the COVID Vaccine for Both Joe Biden and Most People in the U.S.

More Americans are happier in March 2021 than they’ve been for a year, based on consumer research from Civic Science polling U.S. adults in early March 2021. For the first time, a larger percent of Americans said they were better off financially since the start of the pandemic. This week, Civic Science shared their latest data on what they’re seeing beyond the coronavirus quarantine era to forecast trends that will shape a post-COVID America. Buoying peoples’ growing optimism was the expectation of the passage of the American Cares Act, which President Biden signed into effect yesterday. The HPA-CS Economic Sentiment Index

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Ten Forces Shaping Health Care in 2021: A View from CVS Health

Expanding omni-channel, data-driven, cost-effective health care in the community, tailoring that care, and attending to mental health paint the picture of health through the lens of CVS Health. The company published the Health Trends Report 2021 today, calling out ten forces shaping health care this year. Those themes are, The Year of the Pharmacist The Next Step Forward in Cardiac Care Cancer Needs a Better Roadmap The EHR Hits Its Stride The Mental Health Shadow of COVID-19 Tailor Care to the Older Patient More Agents that Predict Disease Paying for the New Medical Miracle Virtual Care Goes Mainstream, and Diabetes

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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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The Most Relevant Companies in Health Care – Learning from the W2O Group

Five years ago, in 2016, the W2O Group said that, “Relevance is reputation.” That year the firm began to study the relevance of, well, relevance for organizations especially operating in the health/care ecosystem. 2020 changed everything, the W2O team asserts, now issuing its latest look into the issue through the Relevance Quotient. Relevance is built on recognizing, meeting and exceeding stakeholder expectations of organizations. In the Relevance Quotient methodology, W2O Group defines key stakeholders as employees, patients (including the sick and the well, caregivers, consumers, et al), health care providers, advocacy groups, analysts and investors, policy makers, journalists and media outlets.

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The Digital Transformation of Patients – Update from Rock Health and Stanford

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated digital transformation of organizations, including health care providers. But another patient side-effect of COVID-19 has been the digital transformation of many patients, documented by data gathered by Rock Health and Stanford Center for Digital Health and analyzed in their latest report explaining how the public health crisis accelerated digital health “beyond its years,” noted in the title of the report. Rock Health and Stanford commissioned an online survey among 7,980 U.S. adults from early September to early October 2020 to gauge peoples’ interest in and utilization of digital health tools and telehealth. Rock Health has conducted a consumer digital

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2020 Was Our Year of COVID; 2021 Will Be Our Year of Vaccines and Excess Deaths in America

With a third vaccine approved by the FDA for licking COVID-19, brought to market by Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. can expect an uptick in vaccinations among fellow health citizens. That’s such welcome news and a positive outlook for a healthier 2021. But there’s another angle on 2021 for which health care providers and health citizens alike should prepare: that is the excess deaths that will happen due to patients postponing needed health care, diagnostic tests, and preventive services that stem from people avoiding care in doctor’s offices and hospitals. The chart here comes from IQVIA’s latest study into COVID-19’s

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The Top Prophet Brands for 2021 Have Lots of Health Baked In

Consumers favorite brands in 2021 are baked with health, from medical care through to the social determinants that make our wellness and mental health better, based on the 2021 Prophet Brand Relevance Index. The top ten brands in 2021 are Apple (the top brand for the sixth year in a row), Peloton, KitchenAid, Mayo Clinic, LEGO, Costco, Honda, Johns Hopkins Medicine, PlayStation, and Amazon. In this year’s study, Prophet remarked that, “Almost overnight, they’ve [consumers] reconsidered beloved names like Disney, making room for brands that serve them better…As they weather some bleak moments, consumers want brands that will commit to

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Hospitals Continue to Lose Money in Year 2 of the Pandemic

U.S. hospitals’ operating margins went negative in January 2021 after turning north for the first time in December 2020 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the February 2021 Hospital Flash Report from Kaufman Hall, commissioned by AHA, the American Hospitals Association. The first chart illustrates the importance of CARES Act funding to keep hospitals financially afloat during the public health crisis through most of last year. The start of 2021 was difficult for hospitals and health systems, Kaufman Hall explains, with falling outpatient revenues and increasing expenses resulting in that below-the-line blue bar for January 2021’s operating

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Retail Health Gains Consumer Kudos in the Pandemic

The more health consumers use health and wellness services at retail, the greater their satisfaction and brand-love, according to a new report from J.D. Power. J.D. Power found that peoples’ Net Promoter Scores were higher among those folks who used at least one health and wellness service at a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, shown in the first chart. That NPS-delta was 15 points between consumers who used no services (rating an NPS of 55) versus people using at least 2 services (awarding an NPS score of 70). Consumers using more health and wellness services also spent more money at the drug store, a

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The Remarkable Rise of Pharma’s Reputation in the Pandemic

The reputation of the pharmaceutical industry gained a “whopping” 30 points between January 2020 and February 2021, based on the latest Harris Poll in their research into industries’ reputations. The study was written up by Beth Snyder Bulik in FiercePharma. Beth writes that, “a whopping two-thirds of Americans now offer a thumbs-up on pharma” as the title of her article, calling out the 30-point gain from 32% in January 2020 to 62% in February 2021. Thanks to Rob Jekielek, Managing Director of the Harris Poll, for sharing this graph with me for us to understand the details comparing pharma’s to

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Americans Lost Future Life-Years in 2020: How Much Life Was Lost Depends on the Color of One’s Skin

Some people remark about 2020 being a “lost year” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That happens to be a true statement, sadly not in jest: in the U.S., life expectancy at birth fell by one full year over the first half of 2020 compared with 2019, to 77.8 years. In 2019, life expectancy at birth was 78.8  years, according to data shared by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Life expectancy at birth declined for both females and males, shown in the first chart. The differences between

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The Social Determinants of Prescription Drugs – A View From CoverMyMeds

The COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to define what were basic or essential needs to them; for most people, those items have been hygiene products, food, and connectivity to the Internet. There’s another good that’s essential to people who are patients: prescription drugs. A new report from CoverMyMeds details the current state of medication access weaving together key health care industry and consumer data. The reality even before the coronavirus crisis emerged in early 2020 was that U.S. patients were already making painful trade-offs, some of which are illustrated in the first chart from the report. These include self-rationing prescription drug

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Three in Four People Avoiding Health Care in the Pandemic Have Had Chronic Conditions

By the autumn of 2020, U.S. physicians grew concerned that patients who were avoiding visits to doctor’s offices were missing care for chronic conditions, discussed in in Delayed and Forgone Health Care for Nonelderly Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Urban Institute. More than three-fourths of people who delayed or forewent care had at least one chronic health condition. The pandemic may have led to excess deaths from diabetes, dementia, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, as well as record drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in May 2020. In their JAMA editorial on these data, Dr. Bauchner and

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Most Americans Want a Vaccine, Dissatisfied with the Rollout

Seven in 10 U.S. adults are willing to be vaccinated, and they’re not happy about the process in getting their jab, according to Gallup’s poll taken in the last week of January 2021. The proportion of Americans willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has steadily grown since October 2020, which fell to a mere 50% of folks keen to get the shot. That percentage has risen to 71% as of February 1 2021, as the first line chart shows the reversal in public embrace for vaccination against the coronavirus. Now that most people in the U.S. welcome the opportunity to

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