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Retail Health Ends 2018 With Big Plans for 2019

As the CVS + Aetna merger crosses its last regulatory hurdle at the close of 2018, we enter 2019 facing a fast-growing and -morphing retail health landscape. I brainstormed retail health yesterday with Patrick Freuler, CEO of Audicus (developer of hearing aids sold direct-to-consumer over-the-counter) and Shai Gozani, CEO of NeuroMetrix, maker of the Quell device for pain management. The three of us will be on a panel addressing retail health disruption at CES 2019 on 9th January 2019 at the Digital Health Summit. I explained to Shai what I’m going to say in my talk about retail health at

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Data Privacy and Healthcare Access: Top Issues Shaping Consumers’ Societal ROI

Organizations that address consumers’ data privacy and access to healthcare create greater social brand equity, inspiring people to say nice things about the companies, recommend them as good employers, and be welcomed as businesses operating in peoples’ community. In The Societal ROI Index: A Measure for The Times We Find Ourselves In, Finn Partners and The Harris Poll measure U.S. companies’ reputations for social good, the project’s press release explains. “Our new data shows that the public has a definite opinion about what issues they feel companies should address and the social impact bar has been set high,” according to Amy Terpeluk,

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The Growing State of Diabetes in America on World Diabetes Day 2018

Diabetes is a family issue, and its prevalence is growing in America. November 14, 2018, is World Diabetes Day, and the International Diabetes Federation reminds us that this condition impacts the whole household — not just the person diagnosed with diabetes. Why the family? Because diabetes is one disease that is largely preventable: through eating right, being physically active, and making healthy choices every day. The family is the primary ecosystem for daily living, and this environment can foster an individual’s healthy choices…or not. The IDF reminds us that family members can and should be aware of the signs and

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Consumers Want Help With Health: Can Healthcare Providers Supply That Demand?

Among people who have health insurance, managing the costs of their medical care doesn’t rank as a top frustration. Instead, attending to health and wellbeing, staying true to an exercise regime, maintaining good nutrition, and managing stress top U.S. consumers’ frustrations — above managing the costs of care not covered by insurance. And maintaining good mental health and staying on-track with health goals come close to managing uncovered costs, Oliver Wyman’s 2018 consumer survey learned. These and other important health consumer insights are revealed in the firm’s latest report, Waiting for Consumers – The Oliver Wyman 2018 Consumer Survey of US

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How Food and Data Can Support Consumers and Healthy Living: Listening at Groceryshop

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants, Michael Pollan advised us on the cover of his breakthrough book on nutrition in America, In Defense of Food.  In Las Vegas, it’s not too easy to live and eat  according to Pollan’s Food Rules. We’re at a fork in the road when it comes to food, retail grocery shopping, and health, which is an intersection I’m increasingly working in these days. The Groceryshop conference is further informing my understanding of the landscape of the technology that’s enabling the consumer’s ability to curate, purchase, and receive the food they want to satisfy hunger and

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Food and Cooking for Health: a UK Perspective from Hammersmith & Fulham

Food deserts aren’t just a U.S. phenomenon. They’re found all around the world. This week as I explore social determinants of health and technology solutions in several parts of Europe, I’ve learned more about food access challenges in the UK. These are discussed in a report published this month by the Social Market Foundation asking, What are the barriers to eating healthily in the UK?  The research was supported by Kellogg’s, the food manufacturer. The first table comes from the report, and the topline shows that about 4 in 10 Britons shopped at a cheaper food store in response to high

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Koen Kas, the Gardener of Health Tech Delights

The future of healthcare is not about being sick, Prof. Dr. Koen Kas believes. Having spent many years in life sciences in both research and as an entrepreneur, Koen now knows that getting and staying healthy isn’t about just developing medicines and med-tech: optimally, health requires a tincture of delight, Koen advises in his breakthrough, innovative book, Your Guide to Delight. Healthcare must go beyond traditional user-centered design, Koen’s experience has shown, and aspire toward design-to-delight. The concept of “delight” in healthcare, such as we experience in hospitality, grocery stores, and entertainment, is elusive. I’ve observed this, too, in my

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

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

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CVS + Aetna: Inflection Point in US Healthcare, Merger Approved Update

    CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna was approved this week by U.S. Federal regulators after months of scrutinizing the antitrust-size-market control implications of the deal. I wrote this post on the deal as an inflection point in American healthcare on 3rd December 2017 when CVS and Aetna announced their marriage intentions. This post updates my initial thoughts on the deal, given the morphing US healthcare market on both the traditional health services front and fast-evolving retail health environment. The nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain signed a deal to combine with one of the top three health insurance companies. The deal

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How Digital Health Can Stimulate Economic Development

It’s National Health IT Week in the US, so I’m kicking off the week with this post focused on how digital health can bolster economic development. As the only health economist in the family of the 2018 HIMSS Social Media Ambassadors, this is a voice through which I can uniquely speak. In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), less formally known as the Stimulus Bill. This was the legislation best known for addressing and helping to bring the U.S. out of the Great Recession. A lesser-known component of ARRA was Title

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Slow Food, Slow Medicine: What Italy Can Teach America About Health

Obesity, diabesity, food deserts and food swamps co-exist across America, factors that cost the U.S. economy over $327 billion a year just in the costs of diagnosed diabetes. In addition, America’s overweight and obesity epidemic results in lost worker productivity, mental health and sleep challenges, and lower quality of life for millions of Americans. Food — healthy, accessible, fairly-priced — is a key social determinant of individual health, wellness, and a public’s ability to pursue happiness. There’s a lot the U.S. can learn from the food culture, policy and economy of Italy when it comes to health. This week, I have the

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Consumers Changing the Channel on Where They Shop for Health

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

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Retail Tomorrow, Today: A Smart Grocery Cart and Digital Samples For Paleo-Eating Moms

In our Amazon-Primed world, the future of retail is not ten years from now; it’s “tomorrow.” So GMDC, the association of retailers and brands who supply them, has formed a program called Retail Tomorrow to turbocharge the supply side with consumers who are already demanding convenience, immediate (or “soon”) gratification, and health where she/he “is.” That’s personalization, and that’s where retail health can and is making a difference in Everyday Peoples’ lives. In our DIY culture, we’re pumping our own petrol, making our own airline and hospitality reservations (from Expedia to Airbnb), trading stocks online, and cooking at home enabled by

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Self-Care is Healthcare for Everyday People

Patients are the new healthcare payors, and as such, taking on the role of health consumers. In fact, health and wellness consumers have existed since a person purchased the first toothpaste, aspirin, heating pad, and moisturizing cream at retail. Or consulted with their neighborhood herbalista, homeopathic practitioner, therapeutic masseuse, or skin aesthetician. Today, the health and wellness consumer can DIY all of these things at home through a huge array of products available in pharmacies, supermarkets, Big Box stores, cosmetic superstores, convenience and dollar stores, and other retail channels – increasingly, online (THINK, of course, of Amazon — more on

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Pharmacies Continue to Earn Consumer-Love

Among industries that consumers frequent, one continues to delight people more than most: pharmacies. J.D. Power’s 2018 ratings on U.S. pharmacies finds that consumers do indeed still love their pharmacies after ten years of rating customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order channels. “U.S. consumers love their pharmacies,” J.D. Power asserts in its first study finding. In terms of total points across all pharmacies, Wegmans pharmacy was the overall top-ranked Rx retail channel with a total ranking of 906 out of 1,000 points. J.D. Power evaluated four categories of pharmacy: Brick-and-mortar chain drug stores, ranking Good Neighbor Pharmacy number one.

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Multimorbidity In the US – Obesity As A Key Driver of Health Spending

In the U.S., the growing prevalence of multi-morbidity is contributing to increased mortality and healthcare cost growth in America. Underlying this clinical and economic phenomenon is obesity, which primary care doctors are challenged to deal with as a chronic condition along with typically co-occurring comorbidities of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. The line chart come from a new study into Multimorbidity Trends in United States Adults, 1988-2014, published in the July-August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The authors, affiliated with the West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine, call out that obesity (the pink-red line)

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Most Americans Over 50 Not Buying Groceries Online….Yet

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

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Heart Disease in America: Zip Code Determines Cardiovascular Disease-Destiny

If you live in one of nine U.S. states, your chances of having heart disease are greater than living in the 41 others. This geography-as-destiny for heart conditions is examined in The Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases Among US States, 1990-2016 published in JAMA Cardiology. Researchers analyzed data on cardiovascular disease mortality, nonfatal health outcomes, and risk factors by age, sex, and year from 1990 to 2016 for the U.S. population. The outcome used to measure health by state was cardiovascular disease disability-adjusted life-years, or DALYs (FYI, “DALYs” are a commonly used metric in health economics research).   Pennsylvania While overall cardiovascular

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The Social Determinants of Food for Health, Farms, and the Economy

America’s agricultural roots go deep, from the native Patuxet tribe that shared maize with Mayflower settling Pilgrims in southern New England, to biodynamic and organic winemakers in Sonoma County, California, operating today. In 2016, 21.4 million full- and part-time jobs were related to agriculture and food sectors, about 11% of total U.S. employment. Farming is an integral part of a nation’s food system, so the Union of Concerned Scientists developed the 50-State Food System Scorecard to gauge the state of farming and food in the U.S. on several dimensions: diet and health outcomes, farming as an industry and economic engine,

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Patients have ambitious health goals, and look to doctors for help

Consumers have health goals across many dimensions, topped with eating well, getting fit, reducing stress, sleeping better, feeling mentally well, and improving personal finances. That’s an ambitious health-and-wellness list, identified in the Health Ambitions Study, the first such research Aetna has published. Six in ten people are looking to food and nutrition for health, whether as “medicine” to deal with chronic conditions, for weight loss or general wellness, which is a frequent theme here on Health Populi. Consumers embrace their food habits as a key self-care determinant of health. Fitness, cited by most consumers, is also a can-do, self-powered activity

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Consumers Grow to View Food as the Prescription

Taking a page out of Hippocrates, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” consumers are increasingly shopping for groceries with an appetite for health, found in research published this week by the International Food Information Center cleverly titled, An Appetite for Health. The top line: over two-thirds of older adults are managing more than one chronic condition and looking to nutrition to help manage disease. Most consumers have that “appetite for health” across a wide range of conditions, with two rising to the top as “extremely important:” heart health and brain function. Other top-ranked issues are emotional/mental

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Consumers Shop Food for Health, But Cost Is a Barrier to Healthy Eating

One-third of Americans are following a specific eating pattern, including intermittent fasting, paleo gluten-free, low-carb, Mediterranean diet, and Whole 30, among dozens of other food-styles in vogue in 2018. It’s mainstream now that Americans are shopping food for health, with eyes focused on heart health, weight, energy, diabetes, and brain health, according to the 2018 Food & Health Survey from IFIC, the International Food Industry Council Foundation. But underneath these healthy eating intentions are concerns about the cost of nutritious foods, IFIC reports. And this aspect of home health economics can sub-optimize peoples’ health. Consider the first graph on consumers’

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Think Like a LEGO Builder in Healthcare – Considering PwC’s New Health Economy Vision

Expect “new combinations” of industry actors and technologies to reorganize and re-imagine healthcare, with an eye on both price and investments in customer experience (CX), PwC envisions in their latest report on The New Health Economy in the Age of Disruption. In this vision, healthcare will be a more flexible marketplace underpinned by data, platforms, and workers. Yes, it’s challenging to get from here-to-there, but PwC explains just how this can happen. Four archetypes, models, of healthcare deals have begun to emerge in the marketplace, illustrated by the Big Deals and announcements reshaping the industry in the past couple of years:

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Food as Medicine – Philips’ Take On An Apple A Day from the Rijksmuseum

What if you went to visit a Vermeer still life with fruit, vegetables, and flowers, and the only image you saw in the famous painting was the flower and an urn? What if you heard the sounds of a juicing machine whirring as you reflected on a Rembrandt? That’s exactly what happened to museum-goers visiting Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. These art patrons witnessed a museum guard literally pulling an apple out of a painting, to leave a barren portrait of an urn and little else. Roll over, Anthony Oberman, the artist of “Still Life with Fruit in a Terracotta Dish,” one of

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Healthcare Companies’ Reputations Go North While All Other Industries’ Reps Fall; and, A Lesson from Campbell’s Soup

Healthcare has a reputation halo in the eyes of U.S. consumers, who ranked the sector as the only industry whose reputations rose between 2017 and 2018. But consumers separate the pharma industry from healthcare: prescription drug manufacturers’ reputation took the second-largest fall, just behind the airline industry. Pharma and airlines were the lowest-ranked industries, along with telecomms and energy. The Reputation Institute has published its annual 2018 US RepTrak Industry Rankings, finding that all industries but healthcare took negative hits on reputation from 2017 to 2018. The study asks consumers to rate the most reputable companies in their daily lives.

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Food as Medicine Update: Danone Goes B-Corp, Once Upon a Farm Garners Garner, and Livongo Buys Retrofit

As the nation battles an obesity epidemic that adds $$ costs to U.S. national health spending, there are many opportunities to address this impactful social determinant of health to reduce health spending per person and to drive public and individual health. In this post, I examine a few very current events in the food-as-medicine marketspace. Big Food as an industry gets a bad rap, as Big Tobacco and Big Oil have had. In the case of Big Food, the public health critique points to processed foods, those of high sugar content (especially when cleverly marketed to children), and sustainability. But

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How Walmart Could Bolster Healthcare in the Community

Walmart has been a health/care destination for many years. The company that defined Big Box stores in their infancy grew in healthcare, health and wellness over the past two decades, pioneering the $4 generic prescription back in 2006. Today, that low-cost generic Rx is ubiquitous in the retail pharmacy. A decade later, can Walmart re-imagine primary care the way the company did low-cost medicines? Walmart is enhancing about 500 of 3500 stores, and health will be part of the interior redecorating. Walmart has had ambitious plans in healthcare since those $4 Rx’s were introduced. Here’s a New York Times article from

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Livongo and Cambia Allying to Address Chronic Disease Burden and Scale Solutions to Consumers

Chronic diseases are what kill most people in the world. In the U.S., the chronic disease burden takes a massive toll on both public health and mortality, accounting for 7 in 10 deaths in America each year. That personal health toll comes at a high price and proportion of national health expenditures. A new alliance between Livongo and Cambia Health seeks to address that challenge, beginning with diabetes and scaling to other chronic conditions. Livongo has proven out the Livongo for Diabetes program, which has demonstrated positive outcomes in terms of patient satisfaction and cost-savings. The plan with Cambia is

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What Would Healthcare Feel Like If It Acted Like Supermarkets – the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings

U.S. consumers rank supermarkets, fast food chains, retailers, and banks as their top performing industries for experience according to the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings. Peoples’ experience with health plans rank at the bottom of the roster, on par with rental cars and TV/Internet service providers. If there is any good news for health plans in this year’s Temkin Experience Ratings compared to the 2017 results, it’s at the margin of “very poor” performance: last year, health plans has the worst performance of any industry (with the bar to the furthest point on the left as “low scoring”). This year, it

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Please Stop Hating on Amazon, Mr. President. It’s Americans’ Favorite Brand.

The most beloved company in America is Amazon, according to the 2018 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Rankings which were published on 22nd March 2018. This was the third year in a row that Amazon garnered the top position in this corporate reputation poll, which gauges consumers’ views on workplace environment, social responsibility, emotional appeal, financial performance, vision and leadership, and products and services. Mr. President, why pick on Americans’ favorite brand? The brand defines the 2018 consumer’s benchmark for a best-retail experience, which is what people increasingly expect across the various interactions they have throughout a day. [As a sidebar,

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