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Will Technology Cure Americans’ Health Care System Ills? Considering Google and Ascension Health’s Data Deal

“Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans,” the Wall Street Journal reported in today’s paper and on the WSJ.com website. The story started with the scenario that, “Search giant is amassing health records from Ascension facilities in 21 states; patients not yet informed.” Here’s Ascension’s press release on the collaboration, described in the title as “healthcare transformation.” Note: this release was written after the Wall Street Journal published this story. And, according to the WSJ reporting, “Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data

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A Tale of Two Americas as Told by the 2019 OECD Report on Health

It was the best of times, It was the worst of times, It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, … starts Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities.  That’s what came to my mind when reading the latest global health report from the OECD, Health at a Glance 2019, which compares the United States to other nations’ health care outcomes, risk factors, access metrics, and spending. Some trends are consistent across the wealthiest countries of the world, many sobering, such as: Life expectancy rates fell in 19 of the

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Thinking About Health Care One Year From the 2020 Presidential Election

Today is 4th November 2019, exactly one year to the day that Americans can express their political will and cast their vote for President of the United States. Health care will be a key issue driving people to their local polling places, so it’s an opportune moment to take the temperature on U.S. voters’ perspectives on healthcare reform. This post looks at three current polls to gauge how Americans are feeling about health care reform 365 days before the 2020 election, and one day before tomorrow’s 2019 municipal and state elections. Today’s Financial Times features a poll that found two-thirds

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While Costs Are A Top Concern Among Most U.S. Patients, So Are Challenges of Poverty, Food, and Housing

Rising health care costs continue to concern most Americans, with one in two people believing they’re one sickness away from getting into financial trouble, according to the 2019 Survey of America’s Patients conducted for The Physicians Foundation. In addition to paying for “my” medical bills, most people in the U.S. also say that income inequality and inadequate social services significantly contribute to high medical spending for every health citizen in the nation. The Physicians Foundation conducts this study into Americans’ views on the U.S. health care system every other year. This year’s poll was conducted in September 2019 and included input

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Learning from Dr. Eric Topol, Live from Medecision Liberation 2019

“Bold thinking is great. Bold doing is better,” Dr. Eric Topol introduced his talk yesterday at Medecision’s Liberation 2019 conference. I have the opportunity, for which I’m so grateful, of not only attending this meeting but playing a role as a speaker, a sometimes stage “emcee,” and a keynote speaker. And as an attendee, I learn so much from other speakers, fellow attendees, and Medecision staff all sharing perspectives during breakouts and networking breaks. In mode of attendee (and self-confessed collegial-groupie of Dr. Topol’s), I took in his remarks taking notes as fast as I could thanks to Mom teaching

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Wasted: $1 of Every $4 Spent on Health Care In America

A study in JAMA published this week analyzed research reports that have measured waste in the U.S. health care system, calculating that 25% of medical spending in America is wasted. If spending is gauged at $3.8 trillion, waste amounts to nearly $1 trillion. If spending is 18% of the American gross domestic product (GDP), then some 4.5% of the U.S. economy is wasted spending by the health care system and its stakeholders. In “Waste in the US Health Care System,” a team from Humana and the Univrsity of Pittsburgh recalibrated the previous finding of 30% of wasted spending to the 25%,

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Thinking About Isaiah, User-Centered Design, and Healthcare – Heard at Health 2.0

Turning 13, “we’re an unruly teenager on our hands now,” Matthew Holt invoked the start of the annual Health 2.0 Conference, convening this week in Santa Clara for its 13th year in existence. Started with Co-Founder Indu Subaiya, Health 2.0 was conceived as a “movement,” Matthew explained. “When (we were) younger, we broke some things.” Indu continued on that riff, “we’re breaking barriers now (that) we are older, and it’s time to raise the bar.” In the yin-and-yang riffing style that is the brand of this duo, Matthew continued in that vein of “breaking things,” invoking a metaphor of storming

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Most U.S. Voters Support Building on the ACA, Not Medicare For All, As Fewer Americans Have Insurance Coverage

The vast majority of Americans favor lowering the cost of prescriptions, keeping the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to cover pre-existing conditions, lower overall medical costs, and protect people from surprise medical bills, according to the KFF Health Tracking Poll – September 2019: Health Care Policy In Congress And On The Campaign Trail. The big headline in this poll following last night’s third Democratic Presidential debate is that 55% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independent voters prefer a candidate that will build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) versus a President that would replace the ACA with a Medicare For All plan (M4A).

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Walmart’s Growing Footprint in Healthcare and Public Health, from Guns to Mental Health and Gardens

Over the past couple of weeks, Walmart is demonstrating its growing commitment to and leadership in healthcare and public health. The company’s announcement this week of pulling products that can be used in military-style weapons from its Outdoor Sports/Shooting department is a major move for public health that is something of a watershed that will impact well beyond the company’s inventory and stock price. This announcement will continue a trend among some thoughtful business leaders, like CEO Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods, banning gun sales from the retailer’s 125 stores in March 2019, who have begun to listen to

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From Health Consumers to Health Citizens – a U.S. Patient Rights Moonshot?

Issue No. 4 of StartUp Health Magazine is dedicated to 8 Health Moonshot Principles. StartUp Health sees these moonshots taken together as, “a blueprint for achieving the impossible.” There’s an aspect of U.S. health care that currently feels impossible to achieve, and that’s consensus on what would constitute a sound approach to covering all Americans for health care as a civil right and whether the nation can “afford” doing so. On pages 22-23 of the digital magazine, you’ll find my essay, “From Health Consumers to Health Citizens.” This write-up summarizes the plotline of my book titled HealthConsuming, which features that

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Health Care Bills’ Financial Toxicity – Remembering the Jones’ of Whatcom County, WA

“In an extreme example of angst over expensive medical bills, an elderly Washington couple who lived near the U.S.-Canadian border died in a murder-suicide this week after leaving notes that detailed concerns about paying for medical care,” USA Today reported on August 10, 2019. Five years ago, financial toxicity as a side-effect was noted by two Sloan Kettering Medical Center in a landmark report on 60 Minutes in October 2014. Epidemiologist Peter Bach and oncologist Leonard Saltz told CBS’s Lesley Stahl, “A cancer diagnosis is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy…We need to take into account the financial

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Talking “HealthConsuming” on the MM&M Podcast

Marc Iskowitz, Executive Editor of MM&M, warmly welcomed me to the Haymarket Media soundproof studio in New York City yesterday. We’d been trying to schedule meeting up to do a live podcast since February, and we finally got our mutual acts together on 6th August 2019. Here’s a link to the 30-minute conversation, where Marc combed through the over 500 endnotes from HealthConsuming‘s appendix to explore the patient as the new health care payor, the Amazon prime-ing of people, and prospects for social determinants of health to bolster medicines “beyond the pill.” https://www.pscp.tv/MMMnews/1eaJbvgovBYJX Thanks for listening — and if you

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What the Pew Report on Trust and Distrust in America Means for Health/Care, El Paso and Dayton — Pogo Rears His Head Again

Two in three Americans believe their trust in each other has been shrinking. And most people connect the dots between that low level of trust and America’s ability to solve problems. It’s been well-documented that Americans’ trust in institutions, and especially government and media, has eroded over the past decade. I’ve tracked that social trend here in Health Populi each year since covering the Edelman Trust Barometer, which has traced the downward sloping curve on trust globally and certainly in the U.S. The precipitous decline in trust in America among fellow Americans is described in Pew Research Gr0up’s report, Trust

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Love ACA Provisions, Not the ACA – KFF Poll Reveals American Voters’ Views on Health Care Reform

Today is the bridge day between The Battle of the Democratic Primary Candidates Debate #2 Part 1 and tonight, Part 2. So it’s a good time to take stock of U.S. voters’ views on health care, through the lens of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll for July 2019 published yesterday. Health care is the top issue Democrats want to hear about in the debates, well ahead of climate change, women’s issues, immigration and gun policy. Let’s start with an overall context statistic from this poll: that is that 86% of insured U.S. adults like their health insurance plan

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The Monetary, Clinical and Ethical Value of Patient Data – A View from the UK and NHS

There are about 55 million patient records held by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). Their monetary value to private sector companies would be £5 billion and nearly that much in patient benefits. Add in value for patient outcomes, and the total approaches £10 billion. In today’s UK:US currency exchange rate, 10 billion British pound sterling is worth roughly $12 billion. Realising the Value of Healthcare Data from EY explores how patient data can, in the words of the report, “unlock significant operational savings, enhanced patient outcomes, and wider economic benefits” for the NHS and patients through using artificial

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Americans’ Financial Anxiety Ties to Personal Cash Flow and Health Care

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average was on the brink of claiming a thousand-point milestone for the first time since January 2018, ending the longest period without crossing such a psychologically significant level since the blue-chip benchmark crossed the 19,000 threshold three weeks after Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016,” Mark DeCambre of MarketWatch wrote yesterday morning. He noted that President Trump, “tweeted a simple call-out to the intraday record: ‘Dow just hit 27,000 for first time EVER!'” clipped here from Twitter. Indeed, the U.S. macro-economy has nearly full employment and the stock market hit a high mark this

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Gaps in Health Equity in America Are Growing

There’s been a “clear lack of progress on health equity during the past 25 years in the United States,” asserts a data-rich analysis of trends conducted by two professors/researchers from UCLA’s School of Public Health. The study was published this week in JAMA Network Open. The research mashed up several measures of health equity covering the 25 years from 1993 through 2017. The data came out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System looking at trends by race/ethnicity, sex and income across three categories for U.S. adults between 18 and 64 years of age.

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Prescription Drugs Are Becoming A Luxury Good in America – Join the #HCLDR Chat Tonight

“Drugmakers Push Their Prices Higher” is the top story under the Business & Finance banner in today’s Wall Street Journal. That’s in terms of drugs’ list prices, which most patients don’t pay. But drug costs to patients are in the eye of the beholder, who in a high-deductible plan or Medicare Part D donut hole becomes the first-dollar payer. Patients continue to face rising drug costs, pushing them into what I’ve been thinking about as luxury-goods territory. The economic definition of a luxury good is a product for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, so that spending

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A Matter of Trust, Perception, Risk, and Uncertainty – The Big Issues Raised by the Acquisition of PatientsLikeMe and Other Patient Data Transactions

By Susannah Fox, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn and Lisa Suennen I’ve lived long enough to have learned The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned But that won’t happen to us Cause it’s always been a matter of trust           A Matter of Trust, by Billy Joel If you’re in health care and don’t live under a rock, you have probably heard that United Health Group (UHG) has acquired PatientsLikeMe (PLM).  After the announcement, there was a lot of sound and fury, some of which signified nothing, as the saying goes, and some which signified a lot.

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Health Care and the Democratic Debates – Round 2 – Battle Royale for M4All vs Medicare for All Who Want It – What It Means for Industry

Looking at this photo of the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential candidate debater line-up might give you a déjà vu feeling, a repeat of the night-before debate. But this was Round 2 of the debate, with ten more White House aspirants sharing views — sometimes sparring — on issues of immigration, economic justice, climate change, and once again health care playing a starring role from the start of the two-hour event. The line-up from left to write included: Marianne Williamson. author and spiritual advisor John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado Andrew Yang. tech company executive Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend,

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Health Care and the Democratic Debates – Part 1 – Medicare For All, Rx Prices, Guns and Mental Health

Twenty Democratic Presidential candidates each have a handful of minutes to make their case for scoring the 2020 nomination, “debating” last night and tonight on major issues facing the United States. I watched every minute, iPad at the ready, taking detailed notes during the 120 minutes of political discourse conducted at breakneck speed. Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, and Jose Diaz-Balart asked the ten candidates questions covering guns, butter (the economy), immigration, climate change, and of course, health care — what I’m focusing on in this post, the first of two-debate-days-in-a-row. The first ten of twenty candidates in this debate were,

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IKEA Garners the Top Health & Wellness Award at Cannes Lions 2019 – the Expanding Health/Care Ecosystem

“Health is now everyone’s business,” Shaheed Peera, Executive Creative Director of Publicis LifeBrands, said this week at the 2019 Cannes Lions awards. Shaheed also led the Health & Wellness jury at Cannes Lions 2019, the mission of which is to, in the words of the award’s portal, “celebrate creativity for personal wellbeing.” The Grand Prix Lions award for Health & Wellness went to IKEA for the company’s ThisAbles campaign. ThisAbles is a project pioneered by IKEA’s team in Israel, looking to improve everyday living for people with special needs through  well-designed IKEA products. IKEA collaborated with non-profit organizations to develop

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Intent, Insiders/Outsiders and Insights — Disney Institute’s Women’s Leadership Summit

There are many forms of magic inspired by Disney, the company. There’s the obvious attraction, the Magic Kingdom, that was Walt’s original destination vision, “imagineered” in 1932. Then there are other kinds of magic. The one I’m deep into in the moment is inspiration, ideation, and “reimagineering” my own thinking about work, legacy, and social justice. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to spend much of this week at the inaugural Disney Institute Women’s Leadership Summit. The Institute convened about 300 women (and a handful of brave “He-for-She” men keen on diversity) in Orlando to learn about and brainstorm

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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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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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Two-Thirds of Americans Say Healthcare Doesn’t Work Well, in RealClear Politics Poll

Health care is the top issue facing the U.S. today, one in three Americans says, with another one-fourth pointing to the economy. Together, health care + the economy rank the top issues for 62% of Americans. Health care and the economy are, in fact, intimately tied in every American’s personal household economy I assert in my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. This poll from RealClear Politics, conducted in late April/early May 2019, makes my point that the patient is the consumer and, facing deductibles and more financial exposure to footing the medical bill, the payor.   Fully

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Assessing the GAO’s Report on Single-Payer Healthcare in America: Let’s Re-Imagine Workflow

Calls for universal health care, some under the banner of Medicare for All,” are growing among some policy makers and presidential candidates looking to run in 2020. As a response, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee in the U.S. Congress, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), asked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to develop a report outlining definitions and concepts for a single-payer health care system in the U.S.         The result of this ask is the report, Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System, published on 1st May by the CBO. The report provides

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Will Health Consumers Morph Into Health Citizens? HealthConsuming Explains, Part 5

The last chapter (8) of HealthConsuming considers whether Americans can become “health citizens.” “Citizens” in this sense goes back to the Ancient Greeks: I return to Hippocrates, whose name is, of course, the root of The Hippocratic Oath that physicians take. Greece was the birthplace of Democracy with a capital “D.” Hippocrates’ book The Corpus is thought to be one of the first medical textbooks. The text covered social, physical, and nutritional influences, and the concept of “place” for health and well-being. Here, the discussion detailed the roles of air and water for health. The Hippocratic texts also coached doctors to

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