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How Can Healthcare Bring Patients Back? A Preview of Our ATA Session, “Onward Together” in the COVID Era

Today kicks off the first all-virtual conference of the ATA, the American Telemedicine Association. ATA’s CEO Ann Mond Johnson and team turned on a dime over the past few months, migrating the already-planned live conference scheduled in early May to this week, all online. I’ll be midwifing a panel this afternoon at 440 pm Eastern time, initially focused on how health care can garner patient loyalty. That theme was given to us in the fourth quarter of 2019, when initial planning for ATA 2020 had begun. What a difference a few months make. Not only has ATA pivoted to an

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Juneteenth 2020: Inequality and Injustice in Health Care in America

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death,” Martin Luther King, Jr., asserted at the second meeting of the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Chicago on March 25, 1966. This quote has been shortened over the five+ decades since Dr. King told this truth, to the short-hand, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Professor Charlene Galarneau recently enlightened me on Dr. King’s original statement in her seminal essay, “Getting King’s Words Right.” Among

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An Airline, A Hospital and A Disinfectant Brand Walk Into A(n Airport) Bar–the New Health/Care Collaboration in the Age of COVID

You’ve heard the one about three characters walking into a bar. A new collaboration between United Airlines, Cleveland Clinic and Clorox reminded me of that scenario, and that in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, collaboration can bolster our health. In the era of COVID-19, people — consumers. patients managing chronic conditions, and caregivers (whether for younger or older loved ones) — are concerned about contracting the virus. In U.S. states where governors mandated shelter-at-home for much of the first half of 2020, millions of people have become conditioned to physically distance, wear face coverings, and #StayHome. In particular, workers

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In the Pandemic, We’re All About Food

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed people down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs toward our basic hunting-and-gathering survival mode: shopping for hygiene products for home and personal care, seeking out masks (both functional and fashionable), and building out our pandemic pantries with shelf-stable foods. In addition to the pure physiological need of food for survival, “Consumers have a greater focus on health and immunity. They also have a desire to exhibit more control,” Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity, said on the Professional Dairy Producers’ Dairy Signal webinar on consumer food trends during COVID-19. We’ve become a nation of

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Telehealth Is Just Healthcare Now – One Post-COVID Certainty, Three Reports

As we wrestle with just “what” health care will look like “after COVID,” there’s one certainty that we can embrace in our health planning and forecasting efforts: that’s the persistence of telehealth and virtual care into health care work- and life-flows, for clinicians and consumers alike and aligned. There’s been a flurry of research into this question since the hockey-stick growth of telemedicine visits were evident in March 2020, just days after the World Health Organization uttered the “P-word:” pandemic. Three recent reports (among many others!) bolster the business and clinical cases for telehealth in America in terms of: A

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What HealthyThinker Is Thinking About Health at CES 2020

Next week, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) will convene CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, where over 180,000 tech-minded people from around the world will convene to kick the tires on new TVs, games, smart home devices, 5G connections, 3-D printing, drones, and to be sure, digital health innovations. At #CES2020, exhibitors in the health/care ecosystem will go well beyond wearable devices for tracking steps and heart rate. I’ll be meeting with wearable tech innovators along with consumer electronics companies and retailers. I’ve also scheduled get-togethers with pharma and life science folks, health plan people, and execs from consumer health companies.

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The 2020 Social Determinants of Health: Connectivity, Art, Air and Love

Across the U.S., the health/care ecosystem warmly embraced social determinants of health as a concept in 2019. A few of the mainstreaming-of-SDoH signposts in 2019 were: Cigna studying and focusing in on loneliness as a health and wellness risk factor Humana’s Bold Goal initiative targeting Medicare Advantage enrollees CVS building out an SDOH platform, collaborating with Unite US for the effort UPMC launching a social impact program focusing on SDoH, among other projects investing in social factors that bolster public health. As I pointed out in my 2020 Health Populi trendcast, the private sector is taking on more public health

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“It’s the Deductible, Stupid” – Health Premiums Reach $20,576 in 2019 for a Family

        Here’s the latest arithmetic on American workers’ financial trade-off of wages for health care insurance coverage: in the ten years since 2009, family premiums have risen 54% and workers’ contribution to health care spending grew 71%. Wages? They rose 26%, and general price inflation by 20%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey on employer-sponsored benefits for 2019 released yesterday. Survey details for this 21st annual encyclopedia on employer-sponsored health care are published in Health Affairs October 2019 issue in a paper titled, Health Benefits in 2019: Premiums Inch Higher, Employers Respond to Federal Policy. Because this

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How Consumers Look At Social Determinants of Health for Cancer, Diabetes and Mental Health

Enlightened health/care industry and public policy stakeholders have begun to embrace and address social determinants of health. These are the inputs that bolster health beyond health care services: they include economic stability like job security and income level (and equity), education, and access to healthy food, food security, safe neighborhoods, social support, clean environments (water and air), and in my own update on SDoH factors, access to broadband connectivity. As physician leaders in the AMA, technology advocates from AMIA, and numerous health plans focus efforts on strengthening social determinants, what do people – consumers, patients, caregivers — think about these

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Scaling the Social Determinants of Health – McKinsey and Kaiser’s Bold Move

People who are in poor health or use more health care services are more likely to report multiple unmet social needs, such as food insecurity, unsafe neighborhoods, lack of good housing, social isolation, and poor transportation access, found through a survey conducted by McKinsey. The results are summarized in Addressing the Social Determinants of Health. The growing recognition of the influence of social determinants reached a tipping point last week with the news that Kaiser-Permanente would work with Unite US to scale services to people who need them. The mainstreaming of SDoH speaks to the awareness that health is made

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Best Buy Bets on AgingTech in the Expanding Retail Health Ecosystem

With the acquisition of GreatCall, a mature player in the aging-tech space, Best Buy is doubling down on consumer health technology@retail. This week at Best Buy. the electronics retailer,  it’s out with CDs and in with technology for aging at home. The company announced that it would buy GreatCall for $800 million. A snippet from the announcement from Best Buy’s press release is shown in the first diagram, noting that GreatCall’s membership is approaching 1 million subscribers who use mobile phones and connected devices, “providing peace of mind to their loved ones.” Beyond the obvious “falling and I can’t get

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Consumer Trust, Privacy and Healthcare – Considering #HIMSS18 in the Stark Light of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

What a difference a couple of weeks make…. On 1st March 2018, two over-arching issues remained with me leaving Las Vegas and #HIMSS18: the central, recognized role of cybersecurity threats in healthcare, and the growing use of consumer-facing technologies for self- and virtual care. Eighteen days later, we all learned about Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of 50 million Americans’ social network data posted on Facebook. We who work in healthcare must pose the questions: going forward, how trusting will patients, consumers and caregivers be sharing their personal health information (PHI)? Will people connect dots between their Facebook lives – and their

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Sounds Like A John Denver Song: Virginia and Colorado Towns Rank High As Healthy Communities

If it’s true that “your ZIP code is more important than your genetic code,” you’d look for a job in 22046, buy a house there, and plant your roots. You’d find yourself in Falls Church, Virginia, named number one in the Healthiest Communities rankings of 500 U.S. towns. You can see a list of all of the communities here. The project is a collaboration between the Aetna Foundation and U.S. News & World Report, with help from the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) and a team from the National Committee on Vital and Health

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Healthy Living in Digital Times at CES 2018

Connecting Life’s Dots, the organization Living in Digital Times partners with CES to deliver conference content during the show. At CES 2018, LIDT is connecting a lot of dots to help make health streamline into daily living. Robin Raskin, founder, kicked off LIDT’s press conference setting the context for how technology is changing lifestyles. Her Holy Grail is to help make tech fun for everybody, inclusive for everybody, and loved by everybody, she enthused. LIDT has been a presence at CES for many years, conceiving the contest the Last Gadget Standing, hosting  tech-fashion shows with robots, and supporting a young innovators

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A New Health Risk: Hacked Personal Medical Devices

We have entered an era of insecurity in healthcare in America. While major attention is being paid to healthcare insurance and service insecurity, food insecurity and financial insecurity, there’s another one to add to this list: medical device security. As more medical devices have moved into the digital internet-connected mode, the risk for malware, ransomware, and overall hack-ability grows. This increasing and challenging risk is covered in the report, Medical Device Security: An Industry Under Attack and Unprepared to Defend from Ponemon Institute. Ponemon Institute has been tracking information security across industries, including healthcare, for several years. In this survey, sponsored

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A New Risk Factor For Mental Health: Climate Change

We make our health across many dimensions: via nutrition, safe physical/built environments, financial wellness, education, and the environment among them. In this last category, the environment, new research finds that climate change has a significant impact on health. The report, Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, was sponsored by the American Psychological Association in conjunction with Climate for Health and ecoAmerica. “Climate change-induced severe weather and other natural disasters have the most immediate effects on mental health in the form of the trauma and shock due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to

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Looking Beyond Tech for Health at CES 2017 – the Social Determinants

I’m at CES 2017 in Las Vegas all this week looking for signs of health in new technology announcements. While it’s no surprise there are hundreds of new and new-and-improved digital health innovations on the exhibition floor, you can look beyond those aisles to other companies who are new entrants in health. Arguably, these companies can bolster peoples’ health at least as much as activity tracking and calorie counting. Here are five examples I wrote about in my Huffington Post column yesterday, The Social Determinants of Health Live At CES 2017: Safety – Liberty Mutual Nutrition – Terraillon Healthy Sex

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The Drug Epidemic-Testing and Data Arm the Battle

More than 40 Americans die every day from prescribed opiate overdoses, Dr. Tom Frieden of the CDC has recognized. The harms of pain-killing drugs have been substantial: Dr. Frieden observed, “the prevalence of opioid dependence may be as high as 26% among patients in primary care receiving opioids for chronic non-cancer-related pain.” There were more deaths due to drug overdoses in 2014 than in any previous year, 61% of which involved opioid pain relieving medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodine, and heroin which has grown in use over the past few years. The CDC has recommended that healthcare providers do

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Privacy and the Internet of Your Healthy Things – the FTC says less (data) is more

The FTC has weighed in on privacy and security and the Internet of Things (IoT) in a report published on 27th January 2015. When it comes to IoT and devices that connect to the internet, the FTC will focus on Enforcing privacy laws Educating consumers and business on privacy and security for connected devices Participate in multi-stakeholder groups such as the NTIA’s team considering guidelines for facial recognition, and Advocate with other agencies, at the state level, and with courts. The report summarizes input received in a FTC workshop conducted in November 2013 with IoT industry experts, and offers recommendations

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Women are natural disruptors for health

“Disruption” is a well-used word these days in business and, in the past few years, in the health care business. That’s because there’s a general consensus that the U.S. health care system is broken. “System” is a word that I shouldn’t use as my friend J.D. Kleinke smartly argued that it’s that lack of system-ness that makes using the phrase “health care system” an Oxymoron. The fragmented health care environment creates innumerable pain points when accessing, receiving, and paying for services. And it’s women who feel so much of that pain. In that context, I’m gratified and humbled to be one

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Stress Is US

“Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it,” Lily Tomlin once quipped. Perhaps in 2014, America is the land of stress because we’re all so in touch with reality. THINK: reality TV, social networks as the new confessional, news channeling 24×7, and a world of too much TMI. So no surprise, then, that one-half of the people in the U.S. have had a major stressful event or experience in the last year. And health tops the list of stressful events in This American Life in the forms of illness and disease (among 27% of people)

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In pursuit of healthiness – Lancet talks US public health

It’s Independence Day week in America, and our British friends at The Lancet, the UK’s grand peer reviewed medical journal, dedicate this week’s issue to the Health of Americans – exploring life, death (mortality), health costs, chronic disease, and the Pursuit of Healthiness. This project is a joint venture between The Lancet and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which took 18 months to foster, called The Health of Americans Series. Americans mostly die from chronic diseases, aka non-communicable diseases, which are largely amenable to lifestyle changes like eating right, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and moving around more. 1 in

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23andme & Me

23andme received word from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on November 22, 2013, that they must cease and desist selling the company’s Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS). FDA explained in their Warning Letter, “Most of the intended uses for PGS listed on your website, a list that has grown over time, are medical device uses under section 201(h) of the FD&C Act. Most of these uses have not been classified and thus require premarket approval or de novo classification, as FDA has explained to you on numerous occasions. “Some of the uses for which PGS is intended are

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Eric Topol creatively destroys medicine at #HIMSS13

Wearing his Walking Gallery jacket painted by (im)patient advocate, Regina Holliday, Dr. Eric Topol evangelized the benefits of digital medicine and consumer empowerment in health care, largely summarizing his epic (pun intended – wait for Hot Point, below) book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine. A founder of the West Wireless Health Institute (now known as West Health), Dr. Topol is a physician and researcher at Scripps and was recently named as editor at Medscape. A new piece of Topol Trivia for me is that GQ magazine called him a rock star of science. Dr. Topol is one of the more

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Americans are first in un-health: the US health disadvantage

In the U.S., we’ll be the #1 oil producer by 2020. We’re the largest national economy in the world (to be surpassed by China before 2030). And, we’re #1 in terms of the lowest taxes paid as a percentage of national GDP. That’s all heartening news for the time being. But we’re also #1 in what I’ll call “un-health:” in auto accident mortality for adolescents, obesity rates, infant mortality, prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, and among other public health metrics. A report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM) calls out what JAMA terms The US Health Disadvantage:

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New Year’s Resolutions for health, and the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show

When it comes to taking on personal responsibility, the #1 New Year’s Resolution is to engage in fitness and exercise, cited by 43% of U.S. adults, followed by healthy eating, noted by 37% of people. Other resolutions involving personal responsibility are Family (26%) Spirituality and faith (22%) Managing personal finances (22%. This survey was undertaken as part of Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project (RP), which is taglined: “Explore what it means to do the right thing.” Launched in 2008, Liberty Mutual’s RP has been diving into the many aspects of daily living for which we, each of us, could take responsibility…including

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Public health is valued by Americans, but health citizens balance personal responsibility with a Nanny State

While most Americans largely believe in motorcycle helmet laws, seatbelt-wearing mandates, and regulations to reduce sale in packaged foods, most are also concerned about the nation turning into the United States of Nanny. The Harris Interactive/Health Day poll of March 20, 2012, finds a health citizenry “pro” most public and safety regulations, from banning texting while driving to requiring the HPV vaccination (e.g., Gardasil). Specifically, as the chart shows, – 91% of U.S. adults are for banning texting while driving – 86% are for requiring vaccination of young children against mumps, measles, and other diseases – 86% also like to

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