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The Higher Cost of Cookouts – Happy, Healthy Independence Day 2022

On this July 4th holiday, Americans aren’t feeling quite so financially independent on Independence Day 2022. The cost of a cookout for your family and friend group of 10 rose over $10 this year, 17% higher than in 2021, based on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual assessment of BBQing Economics on the Fourth of July.             This estimate is based on a market-basket menu that includes cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. Key factors driving up the cost of an All-American cookout include supply chain disruptions (a hangover

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The Care Crisis – Robots Won’t Save Us

Among the many lessons we should and must take emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding and addressing the caregiver shortage-cum-crisis will be crucial to building back a stronger national economy and financially viable households across the U.S. And if you thought robots, AI and the platforming of health care would solve the shortage of caregivers, forget it.               Get smarter on the caregiver crisis by reading a new report, To Fix the Labor Shortage, Solve the Care Crisis, from BCG. You’ll learn that 9 of 10 new care-sector jobs will be in-person for

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The Evolution of a Patient Ambassador – Learning from Stacy Hurt

“I am a health care executive who happens to be a patient, caregiver, and advocate,” Stacy Hurt explained to me in a Zoom chat we shared on 31 May. I asked her to meet with me to discuss her professional news update: being appointed Parexel’s first Patient Ambassador.                       My Zoom invitation to Stacy was a very convenient excuse for me to catch up with a friend in the field: we have known each other since Stacy started to grow her health-social media presence on Twitter. And that involvement in

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Social Determinants of Health Risks Challenge the Promise of Hospital-to-Home

In the wake of the pandemic and growing consumer preferences, the hospital-to-home movement is gaining traction among health systems. Amidst bullish forecasts for the promise of hospital-to-home discharges, the ability for many patients to make this migration would be a difficult bridge to cross.           On the promising front, recent studies reviewed through a meta-analysis published in JAMA found that hospital-to-home programs can be clinically and cost-effective for inpatients discharged from hospital. Earlier this year, McKinsey addressed how “Care at Home” ecosystems can reshape the way health systems — and people — envision patient care. This

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Making The Joy Choice for Our Health and Well-Being – a conversation with Michelle Segar

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once,” Paulo Coelho wrote in his novel, The Winner Stands Alone. Coelho is talking about the all-too-human condition of facing situations that are unplanned which test our patience, resilience, and grit. Our best-laid plans go awry – especially those for healthy behaviors, like exercising and eating well.             Enter Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH, MS, NIH-funded researcher at the University of Michigan, sustainable-behavior-change expert, and health coach. Michelle is our go-to sage for helping us

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Go Local and Go Beyond Medical Care: What Hospitals, Health Plans, and Pharma Can Do to Rebuild Trust

Without trust, people do not engage with health care providers, health plans, or life science companies….nor do many people accept “science fact.” I explore the sad state of Trust and Health Care. published in the Medecision Liberate Health blog, with a positive and constructive call-to-action for health care industry stakeholders to consider in re-building this basic driver of well-being. That is, trust as a determinant of health. Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer came out in January 2022, coinciding as it annually does with the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Every year, WEF convenes the world’s biggest thinkers to wrestle with the

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#HelloHumankindness and Happy New Year….

When Dignity Health, the Catholic health care system, launched the “Hello humankindness” PR campaign in June 2013, well, they had me at “Hello.” When the project went live, Dignity Health’s President/CEO Lloyd Dean provided the rationale for the program, saying: “What’s missing in the public discourse about health care is the fact that while medicine has the power to cure, it’s humanity that holds the power to heal.” Dean pointed to two drivers shaping U.S. culture and the nation’s health care industry: The institutionalization of health care, and, The decline of civility in society. That was 2013. #HelloHumankindness sought to

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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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Thinking Mothers’ Health at Mother’s Day 2021…and the Marshall Plan for Moms

To all the Moms I’ve loved and lost and those I still blessed to have in my life…. I’m thinking about our collective and individual health this 2021 Mother’s Day weekend. There are three themes that whirl in the current Moms’ Health Mix: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mothers’ health and life Mom-economics and the She-Cession — the financial roots of health inequity, and The larger context that is the persistence of women’s health disparities. First, the impact of the coronavirus and the economy have been intertwined, hitting women hard in terms of physical health, work, mental health

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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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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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“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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Food Trends and Hunger in the Pandemic – the Importance of Food Security in Health and Economic Security

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed all kinds of aspects of our daily lives, not the least of which were our food habits — how we shopped for food, how we bought food, how we cooked and baked from scratch, and how our tastes and nutritional choices changed with our #StayHome and #WorkFromHome lifestyles. People who could keep their jobs and work from home connected by broadband learned how to build up pandemic pantries, shop online, and stay well-fed. But for people in the U.S. who lost employment, had hours cut, or were compelled to stay home to teach kids

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The Pandemic Has Been a Shock to Our System – Learning from Known

The coronavirus pandemic has been a shock to people across all aspects of everyday living, for older and younger people, for work and school, for entertainment and travel — all impacting our hearts, minds, and wallets. “As the bedrock of daily life was shaken, uncertainty predictably emerged as the prevailing emotion of our time but this universal problem was eliciting a highly differentiated reaction in different people,” Kern Schireson, CEO of Known, observed. His company has conducted a large quantitative and qualitative research program culminating in a first report, The Human Condition 2020: A Shock To The System. Known’s team of

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Women’s Health Policy Advice for the Next Occupant of the White House: Deal With Mental Health, the Pandemic, and Health Care Costs

2020 marked the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. In this auspicious year for women’s voting rights, as COVID-19 emerged in the U.S. in February, women’s labor force participation rate was 58%. Ironic timing indeed: the coronavirus pandemic has been especially harmful to working women’s lives, the Brookings Institution asserted last week in their report in 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series. A new study from Tia, the women’s health services platform, looks deeply into COVID-19’s negative impacts on working-age women and how they would advise the next occupant of

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Telehealth Use Among Older Americans: Growing Interest, Remaining Concerns

In the Fear of Going Out Era spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients were loath to go to the doctor’s office for medical care, and even less keen on entering a hospital clinic’s doors. This drove health consumers to virtual care platforms in the first months of the public health crisis — including lots of older people who had never used telemedicine or even a mobile health app. In the August 2020 National Poll on Heathy Aging, the University of Michigan research team found a 26% increase in telehealth visits from 2019 to 2020, March to June 2020 year-over-year.

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The She-Cession – a Financially Toxic Side-Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Along with the life-threatening impact of the coronavirus on physical health, and the accompanying mental health distress activated by self-distancing comes a third unintended consequence with the pandemic: a hard hit on women’s personal economies. The recession of the pandemic is considered by many economists as a “She-Cession,” a downturn in the economy that’s negatively impacting women more acutely than men. This is markedly different than the Great Recession of 2008, the last major financial crisis: that financial decline was coined a “ManCession,” taking a more significant toll out of more typically men’s jobs like construction and manufacturing where fewer

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Big Hearts, High Tech – How Caregiving Has Changed in the U.S.

We are all caregivers now. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched and continues to re-shape our daily lives. One reality that the coronavirus era has revealed is that caregiving is a daily life-flow for everyone around the world. In the U.S., this has particularly acute impacts — physical, emotional, and financial. The 2020 AARP report on caregiving was published this month, and the survey research into caregivers uncovered fresh insights about caregivers’ demographics, financial stressors, and intensity of tasks both in volume and time. In addition, more caregivers are looking for and turning to technology to help them hack effort, time

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The Grocery Store as Social, Health — and Sickness — Destination

On Monday, 6th April 2020, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has determined that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are essential workers in our age of the coronavirus pandemic. The PM has posted an Easter egg coloring project on her Facebook page to support children (and people like me who like to color) in the #StayHome era. In the U.S., the day before on Sunday 7th April, Dr. Deborah Birx advised Americans that, “The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the

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Living in Digital Healthcare Times – Kicking off #DigitalHealthCES & #CES2020

Today is Day 1 of two Media Days at #CES2020 in Las Vegas, kicking off this manic week of the Consumer Electronics Show at the Mandalay Bay convention center. For several years, I’ve convened with journalists and industry analysts from around the world for these two days before the “official” opening of CES to hear the latest news from some of the largest tech-focused companies on Earth. Announcements come from across industry sector — from automotive and transportation, telecoms, consumer goods, entertainment, social media, travel, and retail…with platform technologies playing a role including but not limited to AI, AR/VR/XR (the

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How a Razor Bolsters Health, Wellness and Love for Caregiving

The market for caregiving is growing and the business community has, finally, begun to pay attention. The Washington Post referred to this market as a “gold rush” to design smart shoes, custom razors and technology for the “over-65 crowd.” Caregiving in the U.S., the seminal report from AARP, estimated that 43,5 million adults in the U.S. had provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the past year, about one in five people being caregivers. Over half of caregivers are women, and are about 49 years of age on average. Caregivers spent over 24 hours a week providing care go

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Phone Calls, Social Plans, and Entertainment As Prescriptions for Older Peoples’ Loneliness

Loneliness is a killer, a health risk factor that’s been equated to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There’s a Loneliness Epidemic in America, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA’s infographic here tells us that there’s a 45% greater risk of mortality among older people who feel lonely. Given that millions of seniors in the U.S. feel lonely on a regular basis, that translates into a huge risk of death for so many older people who feel disconnected from others. “As a force in shaping our health, medical

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Celebrating “Labor Day” Welcoming Natalist to Our Health Ecosystem

There are many definitions of the word, “labor.” Oxford Dictionary provides context for the definition as follows: To work, as in especially hard physical work To make great effort (as in, “laboring from dawn to dusk”) To have difficulty in doing something despite working hard. For this third point, Oxford offers these synonyms: “strive, struggle, endeavor, try hard, do one’s best, do all one can, go all out, fight, push, be at pains, put oneself out.” And finally, one fourth contextual point: “A labor of love.” That is indeed the perfect framing this Labor Day week for my welcome to

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Americans Could Foster a Health Consumer Movement, Families USA Envisions

Employers, health care providers, unions, leaders and — first and foremost, consumers — must come together to build a more accessible, affordable health care system in America, proposes a call-to-action fostered by a Families USA coalition called Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone. The diverse partners in this Alliance include the American Academy of Family Physicians, AFSCME (the largest public service employees’ union in the U.S.), the American Benefits Council (which represents employers), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), First Focus (a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization), and the Pacific Business Group on Health

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Medical Costs Are Consuming Americans’ Financial Health

Spending on medical care costs crowded out other household spending for millions of Americans in 2018, based on The U.S. Healthcare Cost Crisis, a survey from West Health and Gallup. Gallup polled 3,537 U.S. adults 18 and over in January and February 2019. One in three Americans overall are concerned they won’t be able to pay for health care services or prescription drugs: that includes 35% of people who are insured, and 63% of those who do not have insurance.   Americans borrowed $88 billion in 2018 to pay for health care spending, West Health and Gallup estimated. 27 million Americans

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Care Gets Personal at Philips for Parents and Babies

Our homes should nurture our health. In addition to nutrition and good food, positive relationships, clean air and water, and the basic needs that bolster whole health, technology is playing a growing role to help us manage health at home. At CES 2019, I spent time with Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader of Personal Health with Philips, to discuss the company’s evolving portfolio of products that help fulfill the mission to support people across their own continuum of health. Following CES, I wanted to further dive into one part of the portfolio very important to family health at home: the

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It’s Not All About Pink for Women’s Tech at CES 2019

This is not a watch. Well, not just a watch. It can track heart rate. And it’s not even pink. Well, rose gold, perhaps. One of the benefits about being a woman attending CES is that there are no lines in the loos. The men’s rooms, however, are, shall we say, over-subscribed due to the big disparity between the number of male attendees versus females. Clearly, women are under-represented in technology companies at all levels, as the ladies’ room observation and many other more statistical reports recognize. But I’ve good news to report on the product front about women-focused consumer

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Money First, Then Kids: The State of the American Family in 2018

Most American families with children at home are concerned about paying bills on a monthly basis. One in two people have had at least one personal “economic crisis” in the past year, we learn in the American Family Survey 2018, released last week from Deseret News and The Brookings Institution. The project surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults across the general population, fielded online by YouGov. This poll, conducted since 2005, looks at the state of U.S. families through several issue lenses: the state of marriage and family, parents and teenagers, sexual harassment (with 2018 birthing the #MeToo movement), social capital and

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