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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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Benefit Cost Increases Overwhelm Flat Wages for Most in US: Pew

Today’s financial news reports and the bullish stock market generate headlines saying that the U.S. economy is riding high. President Trump forecasted in late July, “we are now on track to hit an average GDP annual growth of over 3% and it could be substantially over 3%,” Trump said. “Each point, by the way, means approximately $3 trillion and 10 million jobs. Think of that.” Indeed, unemployment is at its lowest rate in decades at 4%. Today, NASDAQ reported that, “the U.S. economy stays strong as the Fed holds steady.” For mainstream working people, though, even with a job in a high employment

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Americans Growing Health Consumer Muscles and Knowledge: McKinsey

Most Americans are healthcare cost-conscious, concerned about various kinds of healthcare expenses, data from McKinsey’s research has found presented in Healthcare consumerism 2018: An update on the  journey. McKinsey’s consumer research identified four themes: affordability as a pressing consumer concern; lack of continuity of care for many consumers; growing demand for digital convenience and access; and, greater willingness to partake in health care programs that lower costs, if made available. Personal and household concerns about healthcare costs is top-of-mind for U.S. consumers, as I’ve pointed out in previous studies such as Kaiser Family Foundation’s look at top “pocketbook issues,” here on

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Employers Take on Health Activism, Embracing Behavioral Health, Virtual Care, AI, and Transparency

More U.S. employers are growing activist roles as stakeholders in the healthcare system, according to the 2019 Large Employers Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey from the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Consider the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JPMorgan Chase link up between Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Jamie Dimon, as the symbol of such employer-health activism. The NBGH report is based on survey results collected from 170 large employers representing 13 million workers and 19 million covered lives (families/dependents). This annual survey is one of the most influential such reports released each year, providing a current snapshot of large employers’ views

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Healthcare’s Profits Will Be Dramatically Redistributed as Care Shifts to Consumers: Accenture

All sectors who are stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem aren’t created equal, Accenture explains in their report, Healthcare’s future winners and losers. Observing the influx of new flavors of entrants like Amazon and Google, start-ups like Iora Health, Oscar and FetchMD, begs the question: how will legacy healthcare system players fare? Who will survive, and what will be the success factors that bolster long-term viability? To answer that question, Accenture points to three market trends that set “new rules” in healthcare: Blurred lines, which are the grey areas and adjacencies between technology, service, finance, and retail The middle of nowhere,

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“Lower Prescription Drug Prices” – A Tri-Partisan Call Across America

  There’s growing evidence that a majority of U.S. voters, across the three-party landscape, agree on two healthcare issues this year: coverage of pre-existing conditions, and lowering the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. A new poll jointly conducted by Politico and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health bolsters my read on the latter issue – prescription drug pricing, which has become a mass popular culture union. There may be no other issue on voters’ collective minds for the 2018 mid-term election that so unites American voters than the demand for lower-cost medicines. This is directly relates to consumers’ tri-party

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How Emotions and “Nocebos” Get in the Way of Preventive Healthcare

There are health facts that are based on rigorous scientific evidence. And, there are people who, for a variety of reasons, make irrational healthcare decisions without regard to those health facts. An important new report discusses the all-too-human aspects of people-as-patients, who often make health decisions based more on emotions than on the cold, hard truths that could save their lives and protect the well-being of loved ones. Preventative care and behavioural science: The emotional drivers of healthcare decisions is that report, sponsored by Pfizer Vaccines and written by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The report analyzes the psychological factors that shape consumers’ health

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FANGs & MAGA – Meet WaWa for Health, Walgreens and Walmart

While Amazon and Google get lots of positive PR and media attention as major healthcare industry disruptors, don’t forget about two big “W’s,” Walgreens and Walmart, in the healthcare innovator mix. I recently read The Four in which Scott Galloway explains the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook in consumers’ everyday lives. These four tech-behemoths each have their particular designs on healthcare innovation, or disruption in the eyes of, say, Epic and Cerner working on health IT systems, or GE and IBM if you’ve been pioneers in health data or big-iron information technology. Then in the past week, the

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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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Healthcare, and Especially Covering Pre-Existing Conditions, Ranks High for Voters in 2018

President Trump and his administrative have been trying to make the ACA fail, claim most U.S. adults. Thus, the public holds the POTUS and the Republican party responsible for moving the Affordable Care Act forward….or not, according to the July 2018 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Health care will be a key issue in the 2018 mid-term elections that will be held in November. Among U.S. voters’ key health care concerns in 2018, one ranks “most” or “very important” for two-thirds of Americans: that is continuing to protect people with pre-existing health conditions. Other issues

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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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Closing the Digital Health Gap Between Consumers and Physicians

  Consumers are more bullish demanding virtual and digital health tools from their physicians than doctors are in providing it, based on the research findings in What can health systems do to encourage physicians to embrace virtual care? from Deloitte. One-third of physicians have concerns about using virtual care services, such as medical errors that may result, access to technology, and data security.               One in two U.S. consumers are now tracking health via digital tools, and one-half of these share the data generated by their apps. That sharing is limited by doctors’ ability to

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How Taking Care of Your Health Boosts Savings Accounts

It will cost about $275,000 for a couple retiring in the U.S. this year to cover their healthcare costs for the rest of their life in retirement, Fidelity estimated. But Americans are notoriously pretty undisciplined about saving money, compared with peers living in other developed countries. How to address this challenge? Show people what improving their personal health can do to boost their 401(k) plans. This tactic is discussed in Health & Retirement Savings: Leveraging Healthcare Costs to Drive 401(k) Contributions & Improve Health, from HealthyCapital, a joint venture of Mercy health systems and HealthView Services.   The chart illustrates three

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In This Eroding Era of Trust, Consumers Look to Doctors Above Banks and Retailers for Trusted Sharing

In this moment post-Cambridge Analytica/Facebook, the launch of the GDPR, and the everyday-ness of data breaches, consumers most trust doctors for sharing personal information. I’ve mined, through my health economic lens, the U.S. data published in the insightful report, Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks, a global research study from Axciom and the Data & Marketing Association (recently acquired by the Association of National Advertisers) working with Foresight Factory. The report compares consumers’ personal views on privacy and trust in ten countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the UK, and the US. We learn that Americans

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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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Consumers Consider Cost When They Think About Medical Innovation

While the vast majority of Americans say that science has made life easier for most people, and especially for health care, people are split in questioning the financial cost and value of medical treatments, the Pew Research Center has found. The first chart illustrates the percent of Americans identifying various aspects of medical treatments as “big problems.” If you add in people who see these as “small problems,” 9 in 10 Americans say that all of these line items are “problems.” In the sample, two-thirds of respondents had seen a health care provider for an illness or medical condition in

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Value Comes to Healthcare: But Whose Value Is It?

The Search for Value is the prevailing journey to a Holy Grail in healthcare these days. On that, most stakeholders working on the ground, globally. can agree. But whose value is it, anyway? Three reports published in the past few weeks give us some useful perspective on that question, woven together in today’s Health Populi blog. Let’s start with the Philips Future Health Index, which assesses value to 16 national health systems through three lenses: access, satisfaction, and efficiency. The results are shown in the map. “Value-based healthcare is contextual, geared towards providing the right care in the right place, at

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Diabetes and Independence Day: An Inflection Point for Rising Blood Sugar

In the USA, July 4th celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on that day in 1776. For people with diabetes, July 4th is also an inflection point when blood glucose spikes and kicks off a rise in blood sugar levels through autumn to New Year’s Eve. The team at Livongo observed this by mining 20 million blood glucose measures among its community of people with diabetes. This research debuted in the inaugural Insights Report, Diabetes Across America: Seasons, Regions & More. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss these findings with Dr. Jennifer Schneider, Chief Medical Officer at Livongo. I

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What the Pew Data on Americans’ Views on Technology Means for Healthcare

Most Americans say that pharmaceutical manufacturers, banks, advertisers, energy firms, and tech companies have too much power and influence in today’s American economy, according to Public Attitudes Toward Technology Companies, a research report from the Pew Research Center. A plurality of Americans says labor unions and farming and agriculture have too little power, along with a majority of people who believe that small business lacks sufficient power in the current U.S. economy. This data point is part of a larger consumer survey on Americans’ attitudes about the growing role of technology in society, particularly with respect to political and social impacts.

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Healthcare Policies We Can Agree On: Pre-Existing Conditions, Drug Prices, and PillPack – the June 2018 KFF Health Tracking Poll

There are countless chasms in the U.S. this moment in social, political, and economic perspectives. but one issue is on the mind of most American voters where there is evidence of some agreements: health care, as evidenced in the June 2018 Health Tracking Poll from Kaiser Family Foundation. Top-line, health care is one of the most important issues that voters want addressed in the 2018 mid-term elections, tied with the economy. Immigration, gun policy, and foreign policy follow. While health care is most important to voters registered as Democrats, Republicans rank it very important. Among various specific health care factors, protecting

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Design, Empathy and Ethics Come to Healthcare: HXD

Design-thinking has come to health/care, finally, and Amy Cueva has been beating this drum for a very long time. I’m delighted to be in her collegial circle, speaking at the conference about the evolving healthcare consumer who’s financially strapped, stressed-out, and Amazon Primed for customer service. I’m blogging live while attending HXD 2018 in Cambridge, MA, the health/care design conference convened by Mad*Pow, 26th and 27th June 2018. Today was Day 1 and I want to recap my learnings and share with you. Amy, Founder and Chief Experience Office of Mad*Pow, kicked off the conference with context-setting and inspiration. Design

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Hospitals Work to Address Customer Experience Gap With Consumers, Kaufman Hall Finds

Hospital and healthcare providers are getting real about improving patient and health consumer experience, the latest Kaufman Hall research finds. The company’s 2018 State of Consumerism in Healthcare report is out, subtitled, “Activity in Search of Strategy.” Kaufman Hall has developed a Healthcare Consumerism Index for healthcare providers based on four pillars: access to care, consumer experience, pricing, and a strong foundation of consumer insights. Based on their assessment of providers on these components, Kaufman Hall found identified four tiers of performance: The top-performing group, Tier 1, includes only 8% of providers. These are the early adopters who allocate resources

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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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Good Coffee + Engaging Design + Banking = Financial Health

As I walked by windows with Marvel-inspired superhero characters, I stopped to read their talk-bubbles: “strengthen your savings, power your financial quest, be the hero of your money, be one with your budget.” The top-line message here is that you can be your own fiscal superhero. The sign read, Capital One Cafe with Peet’s Coffee. But was it a bank branch or a cafe? I asked myself, passing by this sign yesterday morning at the corner of Walnut and 18th Streets in center city Philadelphia. It’s both, as it turned out, and when I entered I found a welcoming, beautifully

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The True Costs of Diabetes Go Well Beyond the Wallet

The daily life of a person managing diabetes feels many costs: at work, on relationships, at play, during sleep, on time, on mental health, and to be sure, on personal finances. The True Cost of Diabetes report from Upwell details the many tolls on the person with diabetes. The first-order impact for a patient engaging in self-care to manage diabetes is time that the many tasks in a day borrow from work, sleep, home-keeping, and relationships. Seventy percent of PwD (people with diabetes) checks blood sugar at least once a day (41% one to two times, 29% three to five

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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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As Medical Cost Trend Remains Flat, Patients Face Growing Health Consumer Financial Stress

When it comes to healthcare costs, lines that decline over time are generally seen as good news. That’s how media outlets will cover the top-line of PwC’s report Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2019. However, there are other forces underneath the stable-looking 6.0% medical trend growth projected for 2019 that will impact healthcare providers, insurers, and suppliers to the industry. There’s this macro-health economic story, and then there’s the micro-economics of healthcare for the household. Simply put: the impact of growing financial risk for healthcare costs will be felt by patients/consumers themselves. I’ve curated the four charts from the

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Technology, Aging and Obesity Drive Healthcare Spending, BEA Finds

The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released, for the first time, data that quantifies Americans’ spending to treat 261 medical conditions, from “A” diseases like acute myocardial infarction, acute renal failure, ADHD, allergic reactions, anxiety disorders, appendicitis and asthma, to dozens of other conditions from the rest of the alphabet. High Spending Growth Rates For Key Diseases In 2000-14 Were Driven By Technology And Demographic Factors, a June 2018 Health Affairs article, analyzed this data. This granular information comes from the BEA’s satellite account, using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey which nationally examines expenditures by disease;

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Doing Less Can Be Doing More for Healthcare – the Biggest Takeaway From ASCO 2018

Less can lead to more for so many things: eating smaller portions, lowering sugar consumption, and driving less in favor of walking or cycling come to mind. When it comes to healthcare utilization, doing less can also result in equal or even better outcomes. Groundbreaking research presented at this week’s ASCO meeting found that some women diagnosed with certain forms of cancer do not benefit from undergoing chemotherapy. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is one of the largest medical meetings annually, and at this huge meeting these research results for the TAILORx trial were huge news with big

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Mary Meeker on Healthcare in 2018: Connectivity, Consumerization, and Costs

  Health care features prominently in the nearly-300 slides curated by Mary Meeker in her always- informative report on Internet Trends 2018.  Meeker, of Kleiner Perkins, released the report as usual at the Code Conference, held this year on 30 May 2018 in Silicon Valley. I’ve mined Meeker’s report for several years here on Health Populi: 2017 – Digital healthcare at the inflection point, via Mary Meeker 2015 – Musings with Mary Meeker on the digital/health nexus 2014 – Healthcare at an inflection point: digital trends via Mary Meeker 2013 – The role of internet technologies in reducing healthcare costs – Meeker

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How to Make Healthcare More Intelligent and Trustworthy: Accenture’s Digital Health Tech Vision 2018

“Do no harm” has been the professional and ethical mantra of physicians since the Hippocratic Oath was first uttered by medical students. The origins of that three-word objective probably came out of Hippocrates’ Corpus, which included a few additional words: “to do good or to do no harm.” The proliferation and evolution of digital technologies in health care have the potential to do good or harm, depending on their application. Doing good and abstaining from doing harm can engender trust between patients, providers, and other stakeholders in health. Trust has become a key currency in provider/patient/supplier relationships: 94% of health executives

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Health Care for a Typical Working Family of Four in America Will Cost $28,166 in 2018

What could $28,166 buy you in 2018? A new car? A year of your child’s college education? A plot of land for your retirement home? Or a year of healthcare for a family of four? Welcome to this year’s edition of the Milliman Medical Index (MMI), one of the most important forecasts of the year in the world of the Health Populi blog and THINK-Health universe. That’s because we’re in the business of thinking about the future of health and health care through the health economics lens; the MMI is a key component of our ongoing environmental analysis of the

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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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The Gap Between the Trump Administration’s Promise of Reducing Rx Costs for Consumers and What People Really Want

This is what happened to pharma stock prices on Friday after President Trump and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar outlined their new policies focusing on prescription drug prices. The graph is the Nasdaq U.S. Smart Pharmaceuticals Index (NQSSPH) from May 11, 2018, the date when POTUS and Secretary Azar made their announcement. What this upward driving curve indicates, from the start of stock trading in the morning until the ring of the closing bell, is that the pharma industry players, both manufacturers and PBMs, were quite delighted with what they heard. The blueprint for restructuring the prescription drug industry,

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Guns, Jobs, or Health Care? In 2018, Voters Split as to Top Issue

It’s a fairly even split between voting first on gun policy, jobs, or healthcare for the 2018 mid-term elections, ac cording to the May 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Arguably, gun policy can cut in two ways: in light of the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings and wake-up call for #NeverAgain among both students and the public-at-large, vis-a-vis Second Amendment issue voters. And, as a growing public health issue, “guns” could also be adjacent to health. “If it isn’t a health problem, then why are all these people dying from it?” rhetorically asked Dr. Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency

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Having Health Insurance Is a Social Determinant of Health: the implications of growing uninsured in the U.S.

The rolls of the uninsured are growing in America, the latest Gallup-Sharecare Poll indicates. The U.S. uninsurance rate rose to 12.2% by the fourth quarter of 2017, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. 2017 reversed advancements in health insurance coverage increases since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, and for the first time since 2014 no states’ uninsured rates fell. The 17 states with declines in insurance rates were Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Among these, the greatest

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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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Re-Imagining Healthcare – a Lesson from Von Clausewitz in the Fog of War

When you’re on the battlefield and you can’t see what lies ahead, go high, recommended General Von Clausewitz in his book, On War. I paraphrase this prescription from the good General-strategist’s book, On War — “War is the realm of uncertainty; three-quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.” Governor Mark Leavitt, who held the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bush, offered this advice at the recent Liberation

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Americans’ Trust in the Healthcare System Low Compared to Rest-of-World’s Health Citizens

In the U.S., trust in the healthcare industry declined by 9 percentage points in just one year, declining from 62% of people trusting — that’s roughly two-thirds of Americans — down to 53% — closer to one-half of the population. I covered the launch of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer across all industries here in Health Populi in January 2018, when this year’s annual report was presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos as it is each year. The Edelman team shared this detailed data on the healthcare sector with me this week, for which I am grateful. Check

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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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Nudging Patients to Use EHRs: Moving Toward a Tipping Point for Consumer Health IT

Half of U.S. patients were offered online access to their health records by providers or insurers, and one-half of them accessed the EHR at least once in the last year.  One in four of those offered online EHR access looked at them more than 3 times. It takes a good nudge from a provider to motivate a patient to access online medical records, found by ONC in their latest research into consumers’ use of EHRs detailed in Individuals’ use of online medical records and technology for health needs, the ONC Data Brief No. 40, published April 2018. he concept of

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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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Healthcare Access and Cost Top Americans’ Concerns in Latest Gallup Poll

Healthcare — availability and affordability — is a more intense worry for Americans in March 2018 than crime and violence, Federal spending, guns, drug use, and hunger and homelessness. The Gallup Poll, fielded in the first week of March 2018, found that peoples’ overall economic and employment concerns are on the decline since 2010, at the height of the Great Recession which began in 2008. While 70% of Americans were worried about economic matters in 2010, only 34% of people in the U.S. were worried about the economy, and 23% about unemployment, in March 2018. Gallup has asked this “worry”

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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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The Patient As Payor: From Rationing Visits Due to Co-Pays to Facing $370K for Healthcare in Retirement

Health care in America is such a scary experience that more people are afraid of paying for care than the actually getting sick part of the scenario. The patient is the payor, and she is afraid…more afraid of the paying than of the illness, according to a survey conducted among U.S. health consumers from WestHealth Institute and NORC, Americans’ Views of Healthcare Costs, Coverage, and Policy from WestHealth and NORC.     See the orange bar on the left: 40% of Americans are “extremely or very afraid” about paying for care if they get seriously ill, and 33% are that afraid

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The New Financial Toxicity in Health Care: The Cost of Hospitalization

In healthcare, we use the word “toxicity” when it comes to taking a new medicine, especially a strong therapy to cure cancer. That prescription may be toxic as a harmful side effect on our journey to getting well. The concept of “financial toxicity” for cancer patients was raised by concerned clinicians at Sloane-Kettering Medical Center, who discussed the topic on 60 Minutes in 2014 and have published papers on the issue. Beyond strong medicines, a new financial toxicity has emerged for patients due to hospital inpatient admissions. A new article in the New England Journal of Medicine studies Myth and

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How the Latest on Facebook and the “Deep State” Could Undermine Patient Data Sharing and AI

There’s a potential large obstacle that could prevent the full benefits of the current go-go, bullish forecasts for artificial intelligence (AI) to help make healthcare better: a decline in consumers’ willingness to share their personal data. Along with the overall erosion of peoples’ trust in government and other institutions comes this week’s revelations about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the so-called Deep State. Three-fourths of Americans believe that some type of “Deep State” in the federal government exists, a new poll from Monmouth University published yesterday. I clipped the responses to three of the survey’s most relevant questions here. Not only

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Patient Privacy And Cyber In-Security at HIMSS 2018

Nearly one-half of Americans experienced a personal data breach in the past three years, the third annual national cybersecurity survey found. Ensuring privacy and cybersecurity should become integrated into the healthcare industry’s consideration of a patient’s consumer experience. This makes sense, given that privacy and cybersecurity ranked the second highest priority to hospitals and healthcare providers polled in HIMSS 2018 Healthcare Leadership Survey. Providers put patient safety as #1. Appropriately, privacy and security were hot topics at HIMSS Annual Conference this year, in respond to providers’ demands for more education and concerns around the challenges. Let’s put these concerns in

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Will People Enrolled in Medicaid Want to Be Amazon Prime’d?

Amazon is planning to extend Prime subscriptions to people enrolled in Medicaid for the discount price of $5.99 a month instead of the recent price increase to $12.99/month or $99 a year. The $5.99 a month calculates to a 27% break on the annual Prime membership cost. Medicaid enrollees who want to take advantage of the deal must provide Amazon with a scan or image of the card they use for their benefit (either Medicaid or EBT). These consumers can enroll annually, for a maximum of four years. Here’s what the Seattle Times, Amazon’s hometown newspaper, said about the program.

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Collaboration is the New Innovation – Designing for Health with Amy Cueva at #HIMSS18

“It’s not about shiny new technologies but about designing relationships to truly impact the patient at the center of the disconnected ecosystem,” asserted Amy Cueva, Founder and CXO of the design consultancy Mad*Pow. That patient is a consumer, a caregiver; it’s you and me, Cueva explained. To reconnect the fragmented pieces of healthcare delivery, Cueva said, mantra-style, “collaboration is the new innovation.” And collaboration with patients, caregivers — the people for whom that healthcare is aimed — is the optimal workflow for effectively, enchantingly designing healthcare. In a talk she delivered at the Innovation Summit in a preconference meet-up at the annual

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What the Latest Pew Consumer Data Means for #HIMSS18

The median American uses 3 social networking platforms in 2018. Facebook is the primary platform for most Americans who use social media in 2018: two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook, and 3 in 4 of them check in on a daily basis. But in the past year, the percentage of people using Facebook and its corporate sister YouTube has flattened, based on the survey report, Social Media Use in 2018 from the Pew Research Center. The Pew team researched U.S. adults’ use of social media across eight popular platforms.     Instagram has gained consumer favor over the past two years,

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How One Hospital System Baked Love Into Their Health App

On July 18, 2017, Neil Gomes, Chief Digital Officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, tweeted this: When I saw this tweet, I was especially struck by Gomes’s phrase, “Designed & developed with heart/love by my @DICEGRP.” That’s Jefferson’s health solutions group that focuses on digital innovation and consumer experience. Here’s a health system that’s focused on that customer experience, which has become a critical success factor for healthcare to thrive. That’s because, as Steve Laughlin, VP and General Manager of IBM’s Global Consumer Group recently explained to me, a consumer’s last great customer experience becomes the

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Majority Rules? The Right to Affordable Health Care is A Right for All Americans

If we’re playing a game of “majority rules,” then everyone in America would have the right to affordable health care, according to a new poll from The Commonwealth Fund. The report is aptly titled, Americans’ Views on Health Insurance at the End of a Turbulent Year. The Fund surveyed 2,410 U.S. adults, age 19 to 64, by phone in November and December 2017. This is the sixth survey conducted by the Fund to track Americans’ views of the Affordable Care Act; the first survey was fielded in mid-to-fall 2013. 9 in 10 working-age adults say “yes” indeed, my fellow Americans

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Add Behavioral Data to Social Determinants For Better Patient Understanding

“Health agencies will have to become at least as sophisticated as other consumer/retail industries in analyzing a variety of data that helps uncover root causes of human behavior,” Gartner recommended in 2017. That’s because “health” is not all pre-determined by our parent-given genetics. Health is determined by many factors in our own hands, and in forces around us: physical environment, built environment, and public policy. These are the social determinants of health, but knowing them even for the N of 1 patient isn’t quite enough to help the healthcare industry move the needle on outcomes and costs. We need to

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Building Trust and Truth in Patient Social Networks

We are only just past the dawn of the second machine age, where digitization is enabling artificial intelligence. “Our new tools are destroying both trust and truth, creating a hunger for community and authenticity. We crave actual physical connection to neighbours, colleagues, and fellow townspeople, even if digitally facilitated.”  Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote this in a column I read this morning in the Financial Times titled, “Our struggle with technology to protect trust and truth.” Trust and truth underpin health engagement, we learned in the first Edelman Health Engagement Barometer launched ten years ago. Those were the early days of the formation

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More Working Americans Enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans in 2017

Over four in 10 U.S. workers were enrolled in a high-deductible health plan in the first 9 months of 2017, according to the latest research published by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The report details Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2017. About 28 million people were uninsured in the U.S. in 2017, about the same proportion as in 2016 — but nearly 20 million fewer than in 2010, as the line chart illustrates. The

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How Albertsons Grocery Stores and Rite Aid Can Help Remake Healthcare

Albertsons, the grocery group with popular brands like Acme, Safeway, and Vons, announced a merger with Rite Aid, the retail pharmacy chain. The deal has been discussed as Albertsons’ move to succeed in light of growing competition from Amazon and Whole Foods, the proposed CVS/Aetna merger, and Walgreens’ possible purchase of AmerisourceBergen (finalizing its acquisition of over 1,900 Rite Aid stores). If played out well, the combination could become an important player in the evolving U.S. health/care ecosystem that brings a self-care front-door closer to consumers, patients and caregivers. “The new company is expected to serve more than 40 million

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Consumer Health and Patient Engagement – Are We There Yet?

Along with artificial intelligence, patient engagement feels like the new black in health care right now. Perhaps that’s because we’re just two weeks out from the annual HIMSS Conference which will convene thousands of health IT wonks, users and developers (I am the former), but I’ve received several reports this week speaking to health engagement and technology that are worth some trend-weaving. As my colleague-friends Gregg Masters of Health Innovation Media (@2healthguru) and John Moore of Chilmark Research (@john_chilmark)  challenged me on Twitter earlier this week: are we scaling sustained, real patient engagement and empowerment yet? Let’s dive into the

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The $4 Trillion Health Economy of 2020

In 2020, national health expenditures (NHE) in the United States will exceed $4 trillion to cover 334.5 million Americans. That equates to 18.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and $12,230.40 of health spending per person. I sat in on a press call today with researchers from the Office of the Actuary working in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review the annual forecast of the NHE, published in Health Affairs in a statistically-dense eleven page article titled, National Health Expenditure Projections, 2017-2026: Despite Uncertainty, Fundamentals Primarily Drive Spending Growth. What are those “fundamentals” pushing up healthcare spending?

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#Engage4Health: How Patients Are Morphing Into Healthcare Consumers, for #HIMSS18

This blog appears today as part of a #HIMSS18 primer series for attendees, and the industry at large, to discuss major health IT issues that will help move health and healthcare delivery forward in 2018 – and beyond. I’m grateful to HIMSS to be one of 20 Social Media Ambassadors appointed for this year’s conference, which convenes in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo Center from March 5 to 9th, 2018.  Prioritizing the patient-as-consumer through my health economic lens, the biggest priorities will be: Engaging patients in self-care and driving health and health plan literacy to better manage constrained access

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When Buying a Pair of Jeans Competes With Filling a Prescription at CVS in Target

Stories about three fashion brands have me thinking about women and their health economics. Stay with me. Target unveiled its new line of clothing, Universal Thread, which features pieces that are accessible to women who may be dealing with physical limitations or sensory challenges. I first read about Universal Thread on The Mighty website, which is a community of over 1 million people interested in connecting on health and disabilities. As The Mighty described, the brand Universal Thread, “is centered around denim since it is a staple in many women’s wardrobes, but denim can be uncomfortable for many people with disabilities

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Getting Real About Social Determinants of Health

New research points out that real people live real lives, and our assumptions about social determinants of health (SDOH) may need to be better informed by those real lives. I read three reports in the past week sobering up my bullish #SDOH ethos dealing with food deserts, transportation, and health service access — three key social determinants of health. To remind you about the social determinants, here’s a graphic from Kaiser Family Foundation that summarizes the key pillars of SDOH. Assumption 1: Food deserts in and of themselves diminish peoples’ healthy nutrition lifestyles. Low-income households who are exposed to the same food-buying

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The United States of Care Launches to Promote Healthcare for All of US

Let’s change the conversation and put healthcare over  politics.  Sounds just right, doesn’t it? If you’re reading Health Populi, then you’re keen on health policy, health economics, most of all, patients: now playing starring roles as consumers, caregivers, and payors in their own care. Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has assembled a diverse group of health care leaders who care about those patients/people, too, appropriately named the United States of Care. Founders include Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Dave Durenberger, former Republican U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and

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U.S. Workers Say Health Care is the Most Critical Issue Facing the Nation

Health care ranks highest among working Americans as the top critical issue facing the country, well above terrorism, the role of the Federal government, unemployment and jobs, education, immigration and taxes. Over half of American workers also rate the country’s healthcare system as “poor” or “fair,” based on the results of the EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Workplace Benefits Survey. Workers dissatisfaction with U.S. healthcare is based largely on cost: one-half of workers experienced an increase in health care costs in the past year. Furthermore, only 22% are satisfied with the cost of their health insurance plan, 18% are satisfied

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Heart-Love – Omron’s Holy Grail of Blood Pressure Tracking on the Wrist

It’s February 1st, which marks the first of 28 days of American Heart  Month – a time to get real, embrace, learn about, and engage with heart health. Heart disease kills 610,000 people in the U.S. every year, equal to 1 in 4 deaths in America. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Knowing your blood pressure is an important step for managing the risks of heart disease. That hasn’t yet been available to those of us who quantify our steps, weight, sleep, food intake, and other health metrics. In 2017, Hugh Langley

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Warren Buffett’s Healthcare Cost Tapeworm & His Alliance with Amazon and JPMorgan

The fact that the average U.S. employer committed to spend nearly $27,000 a year for a PPO to cover a family of 4 in America in 2017 is the most important rationale underlying the announcement that Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway, and JP Morgan made on 30th January 2017. That news immediately shook Wall Street trading, sending downward shocks down the proverbial spines of healthcare insurance plans and suppliers to the industry — legacy healthcare companies that scale patient-members and healthcare supplies, like pills and surgical implants. The “new competition” chart published in the Wall Street Journal in the morning illustrates those shock

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The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer – What It Means for Health/Care in America

Trust in the United States has declined to its lowest level since the Edelman Trust Barometer has conducted its annual survey among U.S. adults. Welcome to America in Crisis, as Edelman brands Brand USA in 2018. In the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, across the 28 nations polled, trust among the “informed public” in the U.S. “plunged,” as Edelman describes it, by 23 points to 45. The Trust Index in America is now #28 of 28 countries surveyed (that is, rock bottom), dropping below Russia and South Africa. “The public’s confidence in the traditional structures of American leadership is now fully

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Health Insurance Costs Stress US Whether We’re Rich or Not / and Why a $0 Budget for CFPB Matters for Healthcare

Health care costs cause anxiety for U.S. adults, regardless of their affluence, we learn in Uncertainty About Healthcare, the latest Stress in America poll from the American Psychological Association. The big stat is that 2 in 3 Americans say the cost of health insurance is a stressor for them or their loved ones, whether the person earns more or less than $50,000 a year. Underneath that top-line are some demographic differences. Millennials are most concerned about access to mental health care compared with Boomers and older adults. Reproductive care access is of most interest to Millennials and Gen Xers. Two-thirds

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In the U.S., Spend More, Get Less Health Care: the Latest HCCI Data

Picture this scenario: you, the consumer, take a dollar and spend it, and you get 90 cents back. In what industry is that happening? Here’s the financial state of healthcare in America, explained in the 2016 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). We live in an era of Amazon-Primed consumers, digital couponing, and expectations of free news in front of paywalls. We are all in search of value, even as the U.S. economy continues to recover on a macroeconomic basis. But that hasn’t yet translated to many peoples’ home economics. In this personal

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Healthcare EveryWhere: Philips and American Well Streamline Telehealth

Two mature companies in their respective healthcare spaces came together earlier this month to extend healthcare services where patients live and doctors work, via telehealth services. Philips, celebrating 127 years in business this year, has gone all-in on digital health across the continuum of care, from prevention and healthy living to the ICU and hospital emergency department. American Well is among the longest operating telehealth companies, founded in 2006. Together, these two established organizations will transcend physician offices and ERs and deliver virtual care in and beyond the U.S. I had the opportunity to sit down with Ido Schoenberg, MD,

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What Healthcare Can Learn from A Pig and Piggy Bank via Santander Bank

When patients feel disrespected in a medical exam room, they will be less likely to follow instructions they receive from a doctor. Research from the Altarum Institute revealed this fundamental finding. The chart shows that feeling respected reduces  a patient’s diabetes medication adherence by a factor of nearly 2x, and is a risk factor for poorly managed diabetes. Furthermore, consumers who feel disrespected by providers are three times more likely to not believe doctors are accurate sources of information than consumers who do feel respected. And, patients with diabetes who do not feel respected are one-third more likely to have poorly

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Sleepless in America: Prescribing Sleep at CES 2018

Las Vegas is known for glitzy neon lights brightly shining along the strip and casinos without clocks reminding us of the time, stimulating us to stay awake at all hours of day or night. But inside the Sands Convention Center are a couple dozen technologies and connected things designed to put us to sleep, which is a growing digital health category at the annual CES. Form factors for sleep-things at CES 2018 include masks, beds, lights, apps, and even a huggable sleep “robot.” Why is sleep seeing such a huge influx on the consumer tech-supply side? Because there’s growing, mainstream

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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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Smarter, Streamlined, Connected Consumers – The Promise of CES 2018

Journalists and industry analysts from around the globe have come to Las Vegas which, this week, is the mecca for new-new electronic things that companies think consumers will be keen to buy. On media day 1, I spoke with a colleague from the Netherlands who covers audio, a sector that’s certainly in disruption; an automotive analyst from India covering autonomous vehicles; and, a mobile tech guru based in Dubai, to identify just a few of my media friends who have gathered here to research and write on their respective beats. In these conversations, there are some common buzzwords floating around

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Searching Las Vegas for Health at CES 2018

While a phrase containing the words “health” and “Las Vegas” may seem a dichotomy, there will be a lot of health-tangent goods and services I’ll be seeking next week at the annual CES. This year, health will be ubiquitous at this huge conference, whose three-letter acronym for “consumer electronics show” typically conjures up images of shiny new things in the guise of automobiles, video games, big TV screens, and drones. At CES 2018, health will go beyond wearable tech and the first phase of fitness that’s been growing at the meeting over the past five years since I began attending

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The Cloud’s Growing Role in Consumer-Pharma Health Engagement

The pharmaceutical industry is facing a multitude of political, regulatory, and financial uncertainties in and beyond 2018. But there’s one thing I know for sure about pharma’s morphing business model: it’s that patients are playing a growing role in the industry’s future well-being. That is, if the industry can meet health consumers where they want to be met. Patients want more communication and support from pharma companies, a new study from Accenture found. In fact, over one-third of patients tell their health care providers about pharma patient-service programs: this chart from Accenture’s study illustrates the top seven ways providers hear

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Most Americans Say Healthcare is #1 Policy Issue Entering 2018

Concerns about health care are, by a large margin, the top domestic policy issue U.S. voters identified as they enter 2018. The proportion of Americans citing healthcare as the top public agenda priority grew by 50% since 2016, from 31% two years ago to 48%. Taxes rank #2 this year, garnering 31% of Americans’ concerned, followed by immigration, which has remained flat cited by about one-in-four Americans. The Associated Press (AP)-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polled 1,444 U.S. adults 18 and over between November 30 and December 4, 2017 for this survey. While one-half of Americans would like the

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Nurses Rate Highest for Ethics in American Professions Once Again in Gallup Poll

Nurses working in the U.S. are number one when it comes to ethics and honesty, the Gallup Poll found for the sixteenth year in a row. After nurses, military officers, grade school teachers, medical doctors and pharmacists rank second through fifth in ethical-line behind top-rated nursing. It’s important to note that consumers have ranked pharmacists and doctors in second and third place in this annual survey for many years. This year, both professions fall below the military and teachers. Nurses have been #1 in this study every year since Gallup launched the survey in 1999, except for 2001 when firefighters topped

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What Healthcare Can Learn from Volkswagen: A Scenario of a Post-Healthcare World

As I am finalizing my schedule for meet-ups at CES in Las Vegas for early January 2018, I’m thinking about digital devices and wearable tech, connected cars, smart homes, and the Internet of Things through my all-health, all-the-time lens. My friends at TrendWatching write today about the automaker, Volkswagen, which has a division called MOIA started in 2016. VW, like most car manufacturers, is working on strategies to avoid being disrupted and made irrelevant as tectonic forces like autonomous cars and shared rides innovate and re-define the nature of personal transportation. MOIA is a brand and a self-described “social movement.”

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Health Consumers Face the New Year Concerned About Costs, Security and Caring – Health Populi’s 2018 Forecast

As 2018 approaches, consumers will gather healthy New Year’s Resolutions together. Entering the New Year, most Americans are also dealing with concerns about healthcare costs, cybersecurity, and caring – for physical health, mental stress, and the nation. Healthcare costs continue to be top-of-mind for consumer pocketbook issues. Entrenched frugality is the new consumer ethos. While the economy might be statistically improving, American consumers’ haven’t regained confidence. In 2018, frugality will impact how people look at healthcare costs. 88% of US consumers are likely to consider cost when selecting a healthcare provider, a Conduent survey found. Physicians know this: 81% of

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Net Neutrality is Dead: What Happens to Connectivity as a Social Determinant of Health?

Today’s FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules for internet service providers will have an impact on healthcare — in particular, the channeling of telehealth services. “The Federal Communication Commission overturned a two-year-old set of rules passed during the Obama administration to protect consumers against bad behavior from their Internet service providers, overriding protests from consumer groups and Internet companies,” USA Today wrote just after the ruling. The concern from advocates to keep net neutrality is that the large ISPs — AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, among them — could be so-called “bad actors” in favoring fast-lane communications for certain content versus

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Support for the Affordable Care Act the Highest Since Passage

Americans’ approval of the Affordable Care Act reached its apex in December 2017, the Pew Research Center found. The proportion of people approving the ACA has been growing since the middle of 2016, now at 56% of the public. The timing of this survey, conducted at the end of November and first few days of December 2017, coincides with Congress’s arm-wrestling a tax bill that would eliminate the individual mandate for health insurance which is an ACA building block for universal coverage in the United States. Most people in the U.S. also believe that the ACA has had a positive

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Will Getting Bigger Make Hospitals Get Better?

This month, two hospital mega-mergers were announced between Ascension and Providence, two of the nation’s largest hospital groups; and, between CHI and Dignity Health. In terms of size, the CHI and Dignity combination would create a larger company than McDonald’s or Macy’s in terms of projected $28 bn of revenue. (Use the chart of America’s top systems to do the math). For context, other hospital stories this week discuss layoffs at Virtua Health System in southern New Jersey. And this week, the New Jersey Hospital Association annual report called the hospital industry the “$23.4 billion economic bedrock” of the state.

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Patients Continue to Grow Healthcare Consumer Muscles, Alegeus’s 2017 Index Finds

Patients’ health consumer muscles continue to get a work out as more people enroll in high-deductible health plans and face sticker shock for health insurance premiums, prescription drug costs, and that thousand-dollar threshold. The 2017 Alegeus Healthcare Consumerism Index finds growth in patients’, now consumers’, interest and competence in becoming disciplined about planning, saving, and spending for healthcare. Overall, the healthcare spending index hit 60.1 in 2017, up from 54.4 in 2016. This is a macro benchmark that represents most consumers exhibiting greater healthcare spending engagement with eyes on cost as well as adopting purchasing behaviors for healthcare. Underneath that

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The Patient as Payor – Consumers and the Government Bear the Largest Share of Healthcare Spending in America

The biggest healthcare spenders in the United States are households and the Federal government, each responsible for paying 28% of the $3.3 trillion spent in 2016. Private business — that is, employers covering healthcare insurance — paid for 20% of healthcare costs in 2016, based on calculations from the CMS Office of the Actuary’s report on 2016 National Health Expenditures. The positive spin on this report is that overall national health spending grew at a slower rate in 2016, at 4.3% after 5.8% growth in 2015. This was due to a decline in the growth rates for the use of

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CVS + Aetna: An Inflection Point for American Healthcare

The nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain signed a deal to combine with one of the top three health insurance companies. The deal is valued at $69 billion. I wrote about this inflection point for U.S. healthcare four weeks ago here in Health Populi. CVS is both the biggest pharmacy and pharmacy benefit manager in the U.S., as the first chart shows. In my previous post, I talked about the value of vertical integration bringing together the building blocks of retail pharmacy and pharmacist care, retail clinics, the PBM (Caremark), along with Aetna’s health plan member base and business. As Amazon and other

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High-Deductibles Do Not Automatically Inspire Healthcare Consumerism

It takes more than enrolling in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) for someone to immediately morph into an effective health care “consumer.” Research from Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren and his team from the University of Michigan found that enrollees in HDHPs could garner more benefits from these plans were people better informed about how to use them, including how to save for them and spend money once enrolled in them. The team’s research letter was published in JAMA Internal Medicine on 27 November 2017. The discussion details results of a survey conducted among 1,637 people 18 to 64 years of age

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TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions – Health-y Things and Privacy Questions

Health permeates a plethora of TIME magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017. From head to foot, health is the mother of invention, based on TIME’s curation of “the best” things launched to market in the past year. Starting with “the head,” the Oculus Go virtual reality (VR) headset from Facebook. While the first function with which VR is associated is fun and games, Dr. Brennan Spiegel at UCLA Geffen School of Medicine has been proving out VR‘s value in helping patients deal with pain and medical management. Keep your eye on his and others’ research into VR’s use in healthcare. The

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Don’t Touch My Entitlements to Pay For Tax Reform, Most Americans Say to Congress

To pay for tax cuts, take money from foreign aid if you must, 1 in 2 Americans say. But do not touch my Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, insist the majority of U.S. adults gauged by the November 2017 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. This month’s survey looks at Americans’ priorities for President Trump and the Congress in light of the GOP tax reforms emerging from Capitol Hill. While reforming taxes is considered a top priority for the President and Congress by 3 in 10 people, two healthcare policy issues are more important to U.S. adults: first, 62% of U.S. adults

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U.S. Healthcare Spending & Outcomes in Five Charts: #EpicFail in the 2017 OECD Statistics

“Spend more. Get less.” If a retailer advertised using these four words, how many consumers would buy that product or service? This is the American reality of healthcare spending in 2016, told in the OECD report, Health at a Glance 2017. I present five charts from the study in this post, which together take the current snapshot health-economic lesson for the U.S. First, look at health expenditures as a share of gross domestic product: the U.S. is number one above Switzerland, France, and the UK, and about two times the OECD average. Note, too, the proportion of out-of-pocket and so-called

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Stress is US: Health Care Is the #1 Stressor in America

Above the economy, trust in government, crime, war, terrorism, and taxes, health care is the top cause of stress in America. For ten years, the American Psychological Association has gauged Americans’ collective mood in their ongoing study, Stress in America. The latest report is The State of Our Nation, published this month, finding that we’re at the “lowest point in our nation’s history” according to 59% of Americans. The 2016 national election in the U.S. raised the stress-stakes, when APA released a stress study we discussed here in Health Populi. The election season was a source of stress for 52%

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Rx Delivery to the Patient’s Door: Home Is Where the Health/Care Is

Talk about the last mile in healthcare. CVS Pharmacy will deliver prescription drugs to patients’ homes, the company announced this week. “Same-day prescription delivery gives customers the easy option of having the pharmacy they trust deliver right to their front door at no cost,” Helen Foulkes, President of CVS Pharmacy, said in the press release. Rx home delivery may not be “the” last mile to conquer all healthcare access challenges, but it’s nonetheless a signal that healthcare industry suppliers are focusing on helping patients streamline their health-consumer lives. In this case, it’s also CVS morphing towards Amazon’s Prime delivery model. Amazon

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Health Care Is 2.5 More Expensive Than Food for the Average U.S. Family

The math is straightforward. Assume “A” equals $59.039, the median household income in 2016. Assume “B” is $18,142, the mean employer-sponsored family insurance premium last year. B divided by A equals 30.7%, which is the percent of the average U.S. family’s income represented by the premium cost of health insurance. Compare that to what American households spent on food: just over $7,000, including groceries and eating out (which is garnering a larger share of U.S. eating opportunities, a topic for another post). Thus, health care represents, via the home’s health insurance premium, represents 2.5 times more than food for the

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A Health Consumer Perspective on CVS+Aetna

  A response to Amazon’s potential moves in healthcare and pharmacy…strategic positioning for the post-Trump healthcare landscape…vertical integration to better manage healthcare utilization and costs…these, and other rationale have been offered by industry analysts and observers of the discussions between CVS and Aetna, for the former to acquire the latter. “A pharmacy chain buying a health insurance company?” many have asked me over the past few days. These inquiring minds include people who work both inside and outside of health/care. I ask back: in 2017 and in the future, “What is a pharmacy? What is a health plan?” See the

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CVS Health in Talks to Acquire Aetna – The Changing Retail Health Landscape

Just a few days since CVS Health announced the company would be working with mega-health insurer Anthem on a prescription drug management program, the pharmacy chain today is reportedly in talks to buy Aetna, the national health insurance company, according to CNBC and other credible news outlets like the Wall Street Journal. Remember that Aetna’s bid to acquire Humana was scuttled earlier this year after many months of negotiation and positioning, along with FTC scrutiny about antitrust. That insurance merger “died” on one day in February 2017 along with an Anthem-CIGNA deal, covered here by CNN. A deal between CVS

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