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The Thematic Roadmap for AHIP 2024: What the Health Insurance Conference Will Cover

Health insurance plans make mainstream media news every week, whether coverage deals with the cost of a plan, the cost of out-of-network care, prior authorizations, or cybersecurity and ransomware attacks, among other front-page issues. This week, AHIP (the acronym for the industry association of America’s Health Insurance Plans) is convening in Las Vegas for its largest annual 2024 meeting. We expect at least 2,400 attendees registered for the meeting, and they’ll not just be representing the health insurance industry itself; folks will attend #AHIP2024 from other industry segments including pharmaceuticals, technology, hospitals and health systems, and the investment and financial services

 

The ROI on Patient Experience = Loyalty, Trust and Revenue – Listening to Accenture

When health care providers and payers make patients’ lives easier, there’s a multiplying factor for loyalty and revenue growth, according to Accenture’s latest look into the value of experience in The Power of Trust: Unlocking patient loyalty in healthcare.             Accenture conducted two surveys for this research, assessing nearly 16,000 U.S. adult consumers’ views on healthcare providers and health insurance plans. Several factors underpin patients’ selection of a new health care provider, especially: Access (70%), with a convenient location, quickly available appointments, digital/mobile/social interactions, and virtual care availability; and, The provider being a trusted source

 

Prescriptions Are Up, Health Services Utilization Down, and GLP-1s Are a Major Growth Driver: IQVIA’s 2024 Update

In the past year, the growth of prescription drug utilization and spending has much to do with the use of GLP-1 agonists to treat diabetes and obesity, along with immunology therapy, and lipid meds, along with specialty medicines now accounting for over half of spending — up from 49% in 2018. This update comes from The Use of Medicines in the U.S. 2024 from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. The annual report details trends in health services utilization, the use of prescription drugs, patient financing of those costs, the drivers underpinning the medicines spending, and an outlook to 2028.

 

Inflation, Health, and the American Consumer – “The Devil Wears Kirkland”

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that surging hospital prices are helping to keep inflation high.                 Hospital costs rose 7.7% last month, the highest increase in 13 years. This chart from WSJ’s reporting illustrates the >2x change in the CPI for hospitals vs the overall rate of price increases. Hospitals are not alone in price cliffs, with health insurance premiums spiking last year at the fastest rate in a decade, the Labor Statistics data showed. “For patients and their employers, the increases have meant higher health-insurance premiums, as well as limiting wage

 

Healthcare 2030: Are We Consumers, CEOs, Health Citizens, or Castaways? 4 Scenarios On the Future of Health Care and Who We Are – Part 2

This post follows up Part 1 of a two-part series I’ve prepared in advance of the AHIP 2024 conference where I’ll be brainstorming these scenarios with a panel of folks who know their stuff in technology, health care and hospital systems, retail health, and pharmacy, among other key issues. Now, let’s dive into the four alternative futures built off of our two driving forces we discussed in Part 1.             The stories: 4 future health care worlds for 2030 My goal for this post and for the AHIP panel is to brainstorm what the person’s

 

Healthcare 2030: Are We Consumers, CEOs, Health Citizens, or Castaways? 4 Scenarios On the Future of Health Care and Who We Are – Part 1

In the past few years, what event or innovation has had the metaphorical impact of hitting you upside the head and disrupted your best-laid plans in health care? A few such forces for me have been the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of Chat-GPT, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That’s just three, and to be sure, there are several others that have compelled me to shift my mind-set about what I thought I knew-I-knew for my work with organizations spanning the health care ecosystem. I’m a long-time practitioner of scenario planning, thanks to the early education at the side of Ian

 

Considering Equity and Consumer Impacts of GLP-1 Drugs – A UBS Economist Weighs In

Since the introduction of GLP-1 drugs on the market, their use has split into two categories: for obesity and “recreationally,” according to the Chief Economist with UBS (formerly known as Union Bank of Switzerland). Paul Donovan, said economist, discusses The economics of getting thin in his regularly published comment blog.                   “These different uses have different economic consequences,” Donovan explains: Obese patients who use GLP-1s should become more productive employees, Donovan expects — less subject to prejudice, and less likely to be absent from work. While so-called recreational GLP-1 consumers may experience these

 

From Evolution to Innovation, from Health Care to Health: How Health Plans With Collaborators Are Re-Defining the Industry

As a constant observer and advisor across the health/care ecosystem, for me the concept of a “health plan” in the U.S. is getting fuzzier by the day. Furthermore, health plan members now see themselves as medical bill payers, seeking value and consumer-level services for their health insurance premium investment. Weaving these ideas together is my mission in preparing a session to deliver at the upcoming AHIP 2024 conference in June, I’m thinking a lot about the evolving nature of health insurance, plans, and the organizations that provide them. To help me define first principles, I turned to the American father

 

The Health Consumer in 2024 – The Health Populi TrendCast

At the end of each year since I launched the Health Populi blog, I have put my best forecasting hat on to focus on the next year in health and health care. For this round, I’m firmly focused on the key noun in health care, which is the patient – as consumer, as Chief Health Officer of the family, as caregiver, as health citizen. As my brain does when mashing up dozens of data points for a “trendcast” such as this, I’ll start with big picture/macro on the economy to the microeconomics of health care in the family and household,

 

In 2024 U.S. Consumers Will Mash Financial Resolutions With Those For Physical Health and Mental Health, Fidelity Finds

One-third of U.S. consumers feel in worse financial shape now than in 2022, with inflation a top concern, discovered in the 2024 New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study from Fidelity Investments.          In this 15th annual update of Fidelity’s research into Americans’ New Year’s resolutions for financial health, we learn the mantra that 2024 will be the year of living practically, opening new chapters for saving and paying down debt. Fidelity conducted an online poll among 3,002 U.S. adults 18 and over in October 2023 to gauge peoples’ perspectives on personal finances, and well-being currently and into 2024. This

 

Money and Mental Health in the U.S. – How Difficulty Paying Medical Bills Can Hurt Healing and Well-Being

There is growing evidence on the connection between people’s financial health and their mental health, explored and explained in Understanding the Mental-Financial Health Connection, a study published by the Financial Health Network.             Keep that relationship in mind in the context of a new forecast from Kaiser Family Foundation estimate the 2023 cost for employer-sponsored insurance for a family to reach nearly $24,000 in 2023. That cost is a 7% increase over last year, and is expected to be split with companies covering $17K (about 70%) and employees about $6600 (roughly 30%). KFF heard that

 

How Healthcare and Patients Can Benefit From a “Simplicity Premium”

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Leonardo DaVinci wrote through his lens on innovation. Simplicity can be a transformational cornerstone of health/care innovation, we learn from Siegel+Gale’s report on the World’s Simplest Brands Tenth Edition (WSBX). Siegel+Gale found the most consumers are willing to pay more for simpler brand experiences and are more likely to recommend a brand for those simpler experiences, as well.             Across the 15,000 consumers the firm polled globally (across nine countries), five key factors underpin peoples’ experiences with the enchantingly “simple” companies: they are, Easy to understand Transparent and honest Caring for

 

The Omnichannel Imperative for Healthcare: Supporting Telehealth Awareness Week 2023

“What omnichannel really means: hearing the customer wherever they are and making them feel heard, valued, and understood.” That statement comes from Qualtrics’ explanation of omnichannel experience design. The very human needs of feeling one is heard, is valued, and is understood, underpin the rasion d’etre of omnichannel marketing. And these very values are those that underpin the trust between patients and providers and the large healthcare ecosystem.         It’s Telehealth Awareness Week, led by the ATA. I celebrate and support the effort; this Health Populi post explains the Association’s mantra that Telehealth is Health, and that

 

The Clinician of the Future: A Partner for Health, Access, Collaboration, and Tech-Savviness

One-half of clinicians working in the U.S., doctors and nurses alike, are considering leaving their current role in the next two to three years. That 1 in 2 clinicians is significantly greater than the global 37% of physicians and nurses thinking about leaving their roles in the next 3 years, according to the report Clinician of the Future 2023 from Elsevier.             Elsevier first conducted research among doctors and nurses for the Clinician of the Future report in 2022, following up this year’s survey research online among 2,607 clinicians working around the world: Elsevier polled

 

Personalizing Health Means Personalizing Health Insurance for Patient-Members – Learning from HealthEdge

As patients assume more financial skin in their personal healthcare, they take on the role of demanding consumer, or “impatient patients.” HealthEdge’s latest research into health consumers’ perspectives finds peoples’ satisfaction with their health insurance plans lacking, with members seeking easier access their personal health information, high levels of service, and rewards for healthy behaviors.           Health plans would also boost consumers’ satisfaction by channeling patients’ access to the kinds of medical providers that align with consumers’ preferences and personal values, and by personalizing information to steer people toward lower-cost care.          

 

Patients Don’t Trust Big Tech with Personal Health Information Much Preferring Healthcare Providers as Data Stewards

Nearly all patients are concerned about their medical records getting leaked or breached, which is The State of Patient Privacy, the title of a consumer study from Health Gorilla with a headline finding that “Patients don’t trust Big Tech with their health data.”             With trust the “backbone” of health information exchange, Health Gorilla calls out, we have to face a big challenge here as health care enters its own sort of industrial revolution embedded AI and data analytics across the health/care ecosystem. How to re-build trust with the very technology that can help health care,

 

To Avert a GLP-1 Cost Tsunami, Add Lifestyle Interventions: Learning from Virta Health

With consumer and prescriber interest in GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs “soaring,” health plan managers have a new source of financial stress and clinical questions on their to-do list. A team of Virta Health leaders held a webinar on 13th July 2023 to explain the results of a study the company just completed assessing health plan execs’ current views on Ozempic and other GLP-1 medicines with a view on both clinical outcomes and cost implications for this growing category of drugs that address diabetes and obesity.             Indeed, diabetes and obesity are top health concerns among the

 

Patients, Nurses and Doctors Blame Health Insurers for Increasing Costs and Barriers to Care

Most patients, nurses and doctors believe that health insurance plans reduce access to health care which contributes to clinician burnout and increases costs, based on three surveys conducted by Morning Consult for the American Hospital Association (AHA).             Most patients have experienced at least one health insurance related barrier in the past two years, and 4 in 10 of those people said their health got worse as a result of that care-barrier. “These surveys bear out what we’ve heard for years — certain insurance companies’ policies and practices are reducing health care access and making

 

Patients-As-Health Care Payers Define What a Digital Front Door Looks Like

In health care, one of the “gifts” inspired by the coronavirus pandemic was the industry’s fast-pivot and adoption of digital health tools — especially telehealth and more generally the so-called “digital front doors” enabling patients to access medical services and personal work-flows for their care. Two years later, Experian provides a look into The State of Patient Access: 2023.                     You may know the name Experian as one of the largest credit rating agencies for consumer finance in the U.S. You may not know that the company has a significant footprint

 

Searching for Health/Care Touchpoints in the 2023 Axios Harris Poll 100

Patagonia, Costco, John Deere, and Trader Joe’s are loved; Twitter, Fox Corp., FTX and The Trump Organization? Not so much. Welcome to 2023 Axios Harris Poll 100 list of companies U.S. consumers rate from excellent in terms of reputation to very poor and, one in particular, “critical.” Exploring the list, we can find insights into consumers’ preferred touchpoints for health, health care, and well-being curated in their daily lives. In this, today’s, Health Populi blog, I consider The 2023 Axios Harris Poll 100 reputation rankings in light of what we learned from the Morning Consult Most Trusted Brands 2023 study

 

Food Is Medicine, Especially When You Are Hungry – The American Heart Association‘s FIM Initiative

Food is a basic need, fundamental to our lives and well-being. And for millions of people around the world, and innumerable health citizens in the U.S., food security is part of daily life in 2023. Furthermore, as the U.S. Congress faces voting on the debt ceiling, the issue of SNAP benefits for nutritional assistance (aka “food stamps”) has been identified as a negotiating line-item by certain Federal budget-cut minded folks. That’s why the Food Is Medicine Initiative, launched collaboratively between the American Heart Association and The Rockefeller Foundation, is so timely and welcome.         “The vision for

 

Don’t Mess with Medicare and Medicaid, Washington: They Remain Popular with Americans Across Party ID

A majority of the U.S. public does not want politicians to “up-end” government-funded health programs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s March 2023 Health Tracking Poll.           Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all garner most partisans’ support whether identifying as Democrat, Independent, or Republican, KFF found in their monthly poll of U.S. voters ages 18 and over. The survey was conducted online and by telephone among 1,271 U.S. adults between March 14-23, 2023.               Among all the important findings in this well-timed poll, I’ll point to the issue of public

 

The Patient Is Still the Payor – And May Skip Paying for Prevention (Eyes on the ACA & Texas)

Many health citizens in the U.S. would likely skip receiving preventive health care services if the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) coverage for them goes away, a Morning Consult survey found.                   The first chart illustrates the top-line of this research: that most U.S. adults would not pay out of pocket for several preventive services including tobacco cessation, drug use screening, weight loss measures to prevent obesity-related illnesses, as well as screening for depression or HIV. One of the key benefits embedded in the ACA was “free” without co-pay shares for  preventive care. These

 

When Household Economics Blur with Health, Technology and Trust – Health Populi’s 2023 TrendCast

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 22 December 2022 in Anxiety, Behavioral health, Big data and health, Big Tech, Broadband, Business and health, Cardiovascular health, Chronic care, Chronic disease, Connected health, Consumer electronics, Consumer experience, Consumer-directed health, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Cybersecurity, Data analytics and health, Demographics and health, Depression, Design and health, Determinants of health, Diet and health, Digital health, Employee benefits, Employers, Financial health, Financial wellness, Fitness, Food and health, Grocery stores, Health apps, Health at home, Health benefits, Health care industry, Health citizenship, Health Consumers, Health costs, Health disparities, Health Economics, Health ecosystem, Health engagement, Health equity, Health insurance, Health Plans, Health policy, Health politics, Health privacy, Healthcare DIY, Heart disease, Heart health, HIPAA, Home care, Home economics, Home health, Hospitals, Infectious disease, Love and health, Medication adherence, Meditation, Mental health, Mindfulness, Moms and health, Money and health, Out of pocket costs, Patient experience, Personal health finance, Pharmaceutical, Pharmacy, Physicians, Popular culture and health, Prescription drugs, Prevention and wellness, Primary care, Public health, Race and health, Remote health monitoring, Retail health, Risk management, SDoH, Self-care, Shopping and health, Social determinants of health, Specialty drugs, Stress, Telehealth, Telemedicine, Transparency, Trust, User experience UX, Vaccines, Value based health, Virtual health, Vitamins, Wearable tech, Wellbeing, Workplace benefits

People are sick of being sick, the New York Times tells us. “Which virus is it?” the title of the article updating the winter 2022-23 sick-season asked. Entering 2023, U.S. health citizens face physical, financial, and mental health challenges of a syndemic, inflation, and stress – all of which will shape peoples’ demand side for health care and digital technology, and a supply side of providers challenged by tech-enabled organizations with design and data chops. Start with pandemic ennui The universal state of well-being among us mere humans is pandemic ennui: call it languishing (as opposed to flourishing), burnout, or

 

Omnichannel, Hybrid Health Care Is Happening – Let’s Bake It with Access and Equity

In just the past few months, we’ve seen the launch of Amazon Care, Instacart adding medical deliveries, and The Villages senior community welcoming virtual care to their homes. Welcome to the growing ecosystem of hybrid health care, anywhere and everywhere. In my latest post on the Medecision portal, I discuss the phenomenon and examples of early models, focusing in on Evernorth, a Cigna company.                 As we add new so-called “digital front doors” to health care delivery, we should be mindful to design in access and equity and avoid further fragmentation of an already-fragmented

 

Thinking Value-Based Health Care at HLTH 2022 – A Call-to-Action

The cost of health insurance for a worker who buys into a health plan at work in 2022 reached $22,463 for their family. The average monthly mortgage payment was $1,759 in mid-2022.               “When housing and health both rank as basic needs in Maslow’s hierarchy, what’s a health system to do?” I ask in an essay published today on Crossover Health’s website titled Value-Based Care: Driving a Social Contract of Trust and Health. The answer: embrace value-based care. Warren Buffett wrote Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in 2008, asserting that, “Price is what you pay. Value

 

How Will the “New” Health Economy Fare in a Macro-Economic Downturn?

What happens to a health care ecosystem when the volume of patients and revenues they generate decline? Add to that scenario a growing consensus for a likely recession in 2023. How would that further impact the micro-economy of health care?                   A report from Trilliant on the 2022 Trends Shaping the Health Economy helps to inform our response to that question. Start with Sanjula Jain’s bottom-line: that every health care stakeholder will be impacted by reduced yield. That’s the fewer patients, less revenue prediction, based on Trilliant’s 13 trends re-shaping the U.S. health

 

Home Is Where the Health Is: An Update on Connectivity, Food, and Retail

Virtually every closed-door meeting I have had in the U.S. with a client group in the past several months has had a line item on the agenda to brainstorm the impact and opportunity of care-at-home, hospital-to-home, or Care Everywhere. This has happened across many stakeholders in the evolving health/care ecosystem of suppliers, including hospital systems, health plans, grocery chains, retail pharmacy, consumer technology, digital health and tech-enabled providers, pharma and medical supply companies. On October 10, Dr. Robert Pearl, former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, published a provocative post on Forbes noting that Amazon, CVS, Walmart Are Playing Healthcare’s

 

Telehealth-As-Healthcare Is a Mainstream Expectation Among Consumers, J.D. Power Finds

Telehealth has increased access to mental health services, I’ve highlighted this Mental Illness Awareness Week here in Health Populi. But telehealth has also emerged as a preferred channel for routine health care services, we learn from J.D. Power’s 2022 Telehealth Satisfaction Study.           Among people who had used virtual care in the past year, telehealth-as-healthcare is now part of mainstream Americans’ expectations as a normal part of their medical care. That’s because 9 in 10 users of telehealth in the U.S. would use virtual care to receive medical services in the future, J.D. Power found in

 

The Direct Link Between Value-Based Health Care, Digital Transformation and Social Determinants – Insights from Innovaccer and Morning Consult

Only 4% of health care payments in the U.S. are pure fee-for-service (FFS) these days. “The end of pure FFS is near,” according to The State and Science of Value-Based Care, a report-out of survey research from Innovaccer and Morning Consult.             Innovaccer, a health cloud/data analytics company, worked with Morning Consult to do deep-dive interviews with 75 senior health care executives; research was conducted in November and December 2021, so these perspectives represent those of health system leaders at the start of 2022. The full report is worth your read; my focus in this Health

 

The Patient As the Payer: Self-Pay, Bad Debt, and the Erosion of Hospital Finances

“The odds are against hospitals collecting patient balances greater than $7,500,” the report analyzing Hospital collection rates for self-pay patient accounts from Crowe concludes.       Crowe benchmarked data from 1,600 hospitals and over 100,00 physicians in the U.S. to reveal trends on health care providers’ ability to collect patient service revenue. And bad debt — write-offs that come out of uncollected patient bill balances after “significant collection efforts” by hospitals and doctors — is challenging their already-thin or negative financial margins.           The first chart quantifies that bad debt attributable to patients’ self-pay payments

 

The More Chronic Conditions, the More Likely a Patient Will Have Medical Debt

There is a direct association between a person’s health status and patient outcomes and their financial health, quantified in original research published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.                 Researchers from the University of Michigan (my alma mater) Medical School and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation analyzed two years of commercial insurance claims data generated between January 2019 and January 2021, linking to commercial credit data from January 2021 for patients enrolled in a preferred providers organization in Michigan. The first chart illustrates the predicted probability of credit outcomes based on the

 

Partnering Up in the Health Care Ecosystem to Drive Transformation – for Organizations and Health Consumers Alike

“Partnerships, including JVs and alliances with other healthcare organizations and with new entrants, are just one way to access new capabilities, unlock speed to market, and achieve capital, scale, and operational efficiencies” in health care transformations. “In an environment with continued competition for attractive assets and significant capital in play from institutional investors, these partnerships may also be the most accessible way for organizations to capture value in expanding healthcare services and technology value pools,” we learn in Overcoming the cost of healthcare transformation through partnerships from a team of health care folks with McKinsey & Company.      

 

The Retail Health Battle Royale, Day 5 – Consumer Demands For a Health/Care Ecosystem (and What We Can Learn from Costco’s $1.50 Hot Dog)

In another factor to add into the retail health landscape, Dollar General (DG) the 80-year old retailer known for selling low-priced fast-moving consumer goods in peoples’ neighborhoods appointed a healthcare advisory panel this week. DG has been exploring its health-and-wellness offerings and has enlisted four physicians to advise the company’s strategy. One of the advisors, Dr. Von Nguyen, is the Clinical Lead of Public and Population Health at Google….tying back to yesterday’s post on Tech Giants in Healthcare.         Just about one year ago, DG appointed the company’s first Chief Medical Officer, which I covered here in

 

The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S. – A Week-Long Brainstorm, Day 1 of 5

I’ve returned to the U.S. for a couple of months, having lived in and worked from Brussels, Belgium, since October 2021 (save for about ten days in March 2022). Work and life slow down in Europe in July and August, giving us the opportunity to return to our U.S. home base, reunite with friends and family, and re-join life and living this side of the Atlantic. The timing of my return to the U.S. coincides with a retail health hurricane of big announcements shaking up the health/care ecosystem. Among these events are Amazon’s plan to acquire One Medical, Apple’s publication of

 

Changing Views of Retirement and Health Post-COVID: Transamerica’s Look At Workers’ Disrupted Futures

As more than 1 in 3 U.S. workers were unemployed during the pandemic and another 38% had reductions in hours and pay, Americans’ personal forecasts and expectations for retirement have been disrupted and dislocated.                 In its look at The Road Ahead: Addressing Pandemic-Related Setbacks and Strengthening the U.S. Retirement System from the Tramsamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), we learn about the changing views of U.S. workers on their future work, income, savings, dreams and fears. Since 1988, TCRS has assessed workers’ perspectives on their futures, this year segmented the 10,003 adults

 

Use of Preventive Health Services Declined Among Commercially Insured People – With Big Differences in Telehealth for Non-White People, Castlight Finds

Declines in preventive care services like cancer screenings and blood glucose testing concern employers, whose continued to cover health insurance for employees during the pandemic.                       “As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers continue to battle escalating clinical issues, including delayed care for chronic conditions, postponed preventive screenings, and the exponential increase in demand for behavioral health services,” the Chief Medical Officer for Castlight Health notes in an analysis of medical claims titled Millions of People Deferred Crucial Care During the Pandemic, published in June. The

 

The Evolution of a Patient Ambassador – Learning from Stacy Hurt

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

 

Jasper, Scaling a Human Touch for People Dealing with Cancer, Now With Walgreens

Each year, the first Sunday in June marks National Cancer Survivors Day. This year’s NCSD occurred two days ago on Sunday, 5th June. When you’re a cancer survivor, or happen to love one, every day is time to be grateful and celebrate that survival of someone who has come through a cancer journey. We all know (or are) people who have survived cancer. We know that the recipe for battling cancer goes beyond chemotherapy. We know of the resilience and grit required in the process: body, mind, and spirit. “Celebrate Life” is the mantra of NCSD, as this year’s campaign

 

A New Chevy Equinox SUV, a Year in Grad School, or Health Care for Four – The 2022 Milliman Medical Index

A new Chevy Equinox SUV, a year in an MS program in kinesiology at Pacific Lutheran U., or health care for a family of four. At $30,260, you could pick one of these three options.             Welcome to this year’s 2022 Milliman Medical Index, which annually calculates the health care costs for a median family of 4 in the U.S. I perennially select two alternative purchases for you to consider aligning with the MMI medical index. I have often picked a new car at list price and a year’s tuition at a U.S. institution of

 

The Patient as Consumer and Payer – A Focus on Financial Stress and Wellbeing

Year 3 into the COVID-19 pandemic, health citizens are dealing with coronavirus variants in convergence with other challenges in daily life: price inflation, civil and social stress, anxiety and depression, global security concerns, and the safety of their families. Add on top of these significant stressors the need to deal with medical bills, which is another source of stress for millions of patients in America. I appreciated the opportunity to share my perspectives on “The Patient As the Payer: How the Pandemic, Inflation, and Anxiety are Reshaping Consumers” in a webinar hosted by CarePayment on 25 May 2022. In this

 

How the Pandemic, Inflation and Ukraine Are Re-Shaping Health Consumers – Learnings from dunnhumby

Too many dollars, stimulated by an influx of COVID-19 government stimulus, are chasing too few goods in economies around the world. Couple this will labor, material shortages, and disrupted supply chains, the exogenous shock of the Ukraine crisis amplifying cost increases and shortage driving higher prices for food and commodities, and global consumers are faced with strains in household budgets. This is impacting grocery stores and. through my lens, will impact health consumers’ spending, as well. In their discussion of Customer First Retailer Responses to Inflationary Times, dunnhumby, retail industry strategists, covered an update on inflation with the top-line that

 

The 2022 Health Populi TrendCast for Consumers and Health Citizens

I cannot recall a season when so many health consumer studies have been launched into my email inbox. While I have believed consumers’ health engagement has been The New Black for the bulk of my career span, the current Zeitgeist for health care consumerism reflects that futurist mantra: “”We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run,” coined by Roy Amara, past president of Institute for the Future. That well-used and timely observation is known as Amara’s Law. This feels especially apt right “now” as we enter 2022,

 

3 in 4 Insured Americans Worried About Medical Bills — Especially Women

In the U.S., being covered by health insurance is one of the social determinants of health. Without a health plan, an uninsured person in America is far more likely to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs, and lack access to needed health care (and especially primary care). But even with health insurance coverage, most health-insured people are concerned about medical costs in America, found in a MITRE-Harris Poll on U.S. consumers’ health insurance perspectives published today. “Even those fortunate to have insurance struggle with bills that result from misunderstanding or underestimating costs of treatments and procedures,” Juliette Espinosa of

 

The Cost to Cover Health Insurance for a Family in America Is $22,221

Even with growing inflation in the U.S. and post-pandemic job growth in 2021, the cost of health insurance premiums rose faster than either the price of goods or wages. That family health plan premium reached $22,221, an increase of 22% since 2016, we learn in the annual report from Kaiser Family Foundation, 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. This report is our go-to encyclopedia of statistics on health insurance year-after-year, surveying companies’ annual health insurance strategies for coverage and tactics for managing spending and workers’ health outcomes. This 2021 update takes into account the impacts and influence of COVID-19 on workers’

 

Designing Digital Health for Public Health Preparedness and Equity: the Consumer Tech Association Doubles Down

A coalition of health care providers, health plans, technology innovators, NGOs, and medical societies has come together as the Public Health Tech Initiative (PHTI), endorsed by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) with the goal of advancing the use of trustworthy digital health to proactively meet the challenge of future public health emergencies….like pandemics. At the same time, CTA has published a paper on Advancing Health Equity Through Technology which complements and reinforces the PHTI announcement and objective. The paper that details the PHTI program, Using Heath Technology to Response to Public Health Emergencies, identifies the two focus areas: Digital health

 

Why CrossFit and 23andMe Are Moving from Health to Primary Care

As we see the medical and acute care sector moving toward health and wellness, there’s a sort of equal and opposite reaction moving from the other end of the continuum of health/care: that is, wellness and fitness companies blurring into health care. Let’s start with the news about CrossFit and 23andMe, then synthesize some key market forces that will help us anticipate more ecosystem change for 2022 and beyond. CrossFit announced the company’s launch of CrossFit Precision Care, described as primary care that provides personalized, data-driven services for “lifelong health,” according to the press release for the program. The service

 

Still Struggling with Stress in America in 2021

“Americans remain in limbo between lives once lived and whatever the post-pandemic future holds,” the American Psychological Association observes in their latest read into Stress in America 2021, with this phase of the perennial study focused on Stress and Decision-Making During the Pandemic. The top-line: people face a daily web of risk assessment, up-ended routines, and endless news about the coronavirus locally and globally. While most people in the U.S. believe that “everything will work out” after the pandemic ends, the mental, emotional, and logistical daily distance between “now” and “then” brings uncertainty and indeed, prolonged stress. More Millennials, who

 

“Complexity is Profitable” in U.S. Healthcare – How to Save a Quarter-Trillion Dollars

In the U.S., “Health care is complicated because complexity is profitable.” So explain Bob Kocher, MD, and Anuraag Chigurupati, in a viewpoint on Economic Incentives for Administrative Simplification, published this week in JAMA. Dr. Kocher, a physician who is a venture capitalist, and Chigurupati, head of member experience at Devoted Health, explain the misaligned incentives that impede progress in reducing administrative spending. This essay joins two others in the October 20, 2021 issue of JAMA which highlight administrative spending in American health care: Administrative Simplification and the Potential for Saving a Quarter-Trillion Dollars in Health Care by Nikhil Sahni, Brandon

 

Health Plan Consumer Experience Scores Reflect Peoples’ Digital Transformation – ACSI Speaks

In the U.S., peoples’ expectations of their health care experience is melding with their best retail experience — and that’s taken a turn toward their digital and ecommerce life-flows. The American Customer Satisfaction Index Insurance and Health Care Study 2020-2021 published today, recognizing consumers’ value for the quality of health insurance companies’ mobile apps and reliability of those apps. Those digital health expectations surpass peoples’ benchmarks for accessing primary care doctors and specialty care doctors and hospitals, based on ACSI’s survey conducted among 12,274 customers via email. The study was fielded between October 2020 and September 2021. Year on year,

 

Be Mindful About What Makes Health at HLTH

“More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 outbreak, the recent spread of the highly transmissible delta variant in the United States has extended severe financial and health problems in the lives of many households across the country — disproportionately impacting people of color and people with low income,” reports Household Experiences in America During the Delta Variant Outbreak, a new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. As the HLTH conference convenes over 6,000 digital health innovators live, in person, in Boston in the wake of the delta

 

Consider Mental Health Equity on World Mental Health Day

COVID-19 exacted a toll on health citizens’ mental health, worsening a public health challenge that was already acute before the pandemic. It’s World Mental Health Day, an event marked by global and local stakeholders across the mental health ecosystem. On the global front, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes the universal phenomenon and burden of mental health on the Earth’s people… Nearly 1 billion people have a mental disorder Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, impacting about 5% of the world’s population People with severe mental disorders like schizophrenia tend to die as much as 20 years earlier

 

Pondering Prescription Drugs: Pricing Rx and Going Direct-to-Consumer

There is one health care public policy issue that unites U.S. voters across political party: that is the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. With the price of medicines in politicians’ and health citizens’ cross-hairs, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have responded in many ways to the Rx pricing critiques from consumers (via, for example, Consumer Reports/Consumers Union and AARP), hospitals (through the American Hospital Association), and insurance companies (from AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans). The latest poll from the University of Chicago/Harris Public Policy and the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research quantifies the issue cross-party, finding that 74%

 

Doctors’ Offices Morph into Bill Collectors As Patients Face Growing Out-Of-Pocket Costs

In the U.S., patients have assumed the role of health care payors with growing co-payments, coinsurance amounts, and deductibles pushing peoples’ out-of-pocket costs up. This has raised the importance of price transparency, which is based on the hypothesis that if patients had access to personally-relevant price/cost information from doctors and hospitals for medical services, and pharmacies and PBMs for prescription drugs, the patient would behave as a consumer and shop around. That hypothesis has not been well proven-out: even though more health care “sellers” on the supply side have begun to post price information for services, patients still haven’t donned

 

Regulation, Reimbursement, and Interoperability Block Health Systems’ Digital Transformation – The State of Healthcare in 2021 From HIMSS

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic motivated health care providers, payers, and patients to adopt digital tools and contact-less services, allowing people to deliver and receive medical care. Still, 18 months into the pandemic, now endemic and in its fourth wave of cases spiking around the world and in many parts of the U.S., some aspects of “digital transformation” seem not to have fully transformed American healthcare, we learn in HIMSS’s annual 2021 State of Healthcare Report. HIMSS collaborated with the organizations Trust  Accenture, The Chartix Group, and ZS on this year’s research. Nine in ten clinicians have recommended

 

CVS Finds Differences in Mental and Behavioral Health Among Men Vs. Women in the Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic shifts to a more endemic phase — becoming part of peoples’ everyday life for months to come — impacts on peoples’ mental health will persist, according to new research from CVS Health in the company’s annual Health Care Insights Study. CVS conducted the annual Health Care Insights Study among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2021. To complement the consumer study, an additional survey was undertaken among 400 health care providers including primary care physicians and specialists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RNs and pharmacists. CVS has been tracking the growing trend of health care consumerism in the

 

Reimagining Life After the Pandemic – Seeking Health, Safety, Sustainability, and Trust

COVID-19 reshaped people around the world, one-half of whom are re-defining their personal purpose and life-goals. This sense of purpose extends to peoples’ willingness to buy or patronize companies who do not meet their needs for health, safety, sustainability and trust. For example, two in three of these people would switch travel brands if they felt health and safety weren’t up to par, discovered in Life Reimagined – Mapping the motivations that matter for today’s consumers, from Accenture’s Voices of Change series. In May 2021, Accenture polled over 25,000 consumers globally, in 22 countries, and found that one-half of people

 

The Healthcare and Macro-Economic Impacts of Living with Endemic COVID – Listening to Fitch

Getting totally rid of the coronavirus isn’t likely, so we humans must accept the fact that SARS-CoV-2 will be endemic. The economic and healthcare system impacts of this were explored in the Post-Covid Healthcare Landscape, delivered by Fitch Solutions’ Jamie Davies and Beau Noafshar, leaders in the Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, and Medical Devices groups. I welcomed the opportunity to learn from this team’s approach in weaving together the dynamic issues that help us to plan for the long-tail of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy and prospects for the health care industry and health citizens. The first graph illustrates the

 

Post-Pandemic, U.S. Healthcare is Entering a “Provide More Care For Less” Era – Pondering PwC’s 2022 Forecast

In the COVID-19 pandemic, health care spending in the U.S. increased by a relatively low 6.0% in 2020. This year, medical cost trend will rise by 7.0%, expected to decline a bit in 2022 according to the annual study from PwC Health Research Institute, Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2022. What’s “behind these numbers” are factors that will increase medical spending (the “inflators” in PwC speak) and the “deflators” that lower costs. Looking around the future corner, the inflators are expected to be: A COVID-19 “hangover,” leading to increased health care services utilization Preparations for the next pandemic, and

 

What Do Democrats and Republicans Agree On? Allowing Negotiations to Lower Rx Prices

People living in the U.S. have weathered over fifteen months of life-shifts for work, school, prayer, fitness, and social lives. So you might think that the most important public priority for Congress might have something to do with COVID-19, vaccines, or health insurance coverage. But across all priorities, it turns out that prescription drug costs rank higher in Americans’ minds than any other issue in the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll for May 2021. Two-thirds of U.S. adults said that allowing the federal government and private insurance plans to negotiate for lower prices on Rx drugs was their top

 

Wearables Are Good For Older People, Too — The Latest From Laurie Orlov

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a whole lot of digital transformation for people staying home. For digital natives, that wasn’t such an exogenous shock. For older people who are digital immigrants, they will remember their initial Zoom get-together’s with much-missed family, ordering groceries online in the first ecommerce purchase, and using telemedicine for the first time as a digital health front-door. Laurie Orlov,  tech industry veteran, writer, speaker and elder care advocate, is the founder of the encyclopedic Aging and Health Technology Watch website. She takes this propitious moment to assess The Future of Wearables and Older Adult in a new report.

 

Healthcare, Heal Thyself! How the Industry Can and Should Play the Trust Card

The emergence of the COVID-19 vaccine “infodemic” has slowed the ability for nations around the world to emerge out of the public health crisis. Growing cynicism among some health citizens facing the politicization of public health tactics like vaccines and facial masks is what we’re talking about. At the root is peoples’ lack of trust across a range of information providers, including government, media, business, and even peers. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer spotlighted the infodemic and eroding trust in the U.S. in the voices of public health, the public sector, and media. This is a global challenge as well,

 

The ROI on Virtual Care – Thinking About Value and Future Prospects With the AMA

When a new technology or product starts to get used in a market, it follows a diffusion curve whose slope depends on the pace of adoption in that market. For telehealth, that S-curve has had a very long and fairly flat front-end of the “S” followed by a hockey stick trajectory in March and April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic was an exogenous shock to in-person health care delivery. The first chart from the CDC illustrates that dramatic growth in the use of telehealth ratcheting up since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the U.S. Virtual care has

 

Spending on Medicines In and Post-COVID Say a Lot About Patients and Larger Healthcare Trends – an IQVIA Update

Spending on medicines, globally, will rebound this year and rise above pre-pandemic levels through 2025. Between 2021 and 2025, the annual growth global growth rate for prescription drugs spending is expected to range from 3% to 6%, a $1.6 trillion bill for the worlds’s total Rx medicines market. That relatively low single-digit growth rate is tempered by savings from biosimilars and the loss of brand exclusivity (that is, more generics coming to market). On the faster-growth side, we can expect two big therapeutic areas to drive spending upward: oncology and immunology, projected to expand by 9% to 12% each year

 

The Rise of the Homebody Economy and Healthcare to the Home

As the coronavirus crisis stretched from weeks into months, now over one year since being defined as a pandemic, U.S. consumers have made significant investments into their homes for working, educating students, cooking, and working out. Welcome to the “rebalancing of the homebody economy,” in the words of McKinsey, out with new data on consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis. The continued penetration of vaccines-into-arms in the U.S. is fanning optimism in terms of household economics, personal spending — especially on experiences that get folks “out” of the house. Still, the Homebody Economy will persist even post-COVID, with a growing

 

How to Restore Americans’ Confidence in U.S. Health Care: Deal With Access and Cost

With a vaccine supply proliferating in the U.S. and more health citizens getting their first jabs, there’s growing optimism in America looking to the next-normal by, perhaps, July 4th holiday weekend as President Biden reads the pandemic tea leaves. But that won’t mean Americans will be ready to return to pre-pandemic health care visits to hospital and doctor’s offices. Now that hygiene protocols are well-established in health care providers’ settings, at least two other major consumer barriers to seeking care must be addressed: cost and access. The latest (March 2021) Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll learned that at least one

 

Value-Based Health Care Needs All Stakeholders at the Table – Especially the Patient

2021 is the 20th anniversary of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID). On March 10th, V-BID held its annual Summit, celebrating the Center’s 20 years of innovation and scholarship. The Center is led by Dr. Mark Fendrick, and has an active and innovative advisory board. [Note: I may be biased as a University of Michigan graduate of both the School of Public Health and Rackham School of Graduate Studies in Economics].   Some of the most important areas of the Center’s impact include initiatives addressing low-value care, waste in U.S. health care, patient assistance programs, Medicare

 

Our Homes Are Health Delivery Platforms – The New Home Health/Care at CES 2021

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 18 January 2021 in Aging, Aging and Technology, Baby health, Big data and health, Bio/life sciences, Bioethics, Boomers, Broadband, Business and health, Connected health, Consumer electronics, Consumer experience, Consumer-directed health, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Data analytics and health, Demographics and health, Dental care, Design and health, Diagnostics, Digital health, Digital therapeutics, Electronic medical records, Exercise, Fitness, Food and health, GDPR, Grocery stores, Guns and health, Health and Beauty, Health at home, Health care marketing, Health citizenship, Health Consumers, Health costs, Health disparities, Health Economics, Health ecosystem, Health engagement, Health equity, Health marketing, Health media, Health Plans, Health policy, Health politics, Health privacy, Health regulation, Healthcare access, Healthcare DIY, Heart disease, Heart health, HIPAA, Home care, Hospitals, Housing and health, Internet and Health, Internet of things, Medical device, Medical innovation, Nutrition, Obesity, Oral care, Patient engagement, Patient experience, Pharmacy, Physicians, Popular culture and health, Prevention and wellness, Primary care, Privacy and security, Public health, Remote health monitoring, Retail health, Robots and health, Safety net and health, SDoH, Self-care, Sensors and health, Sleep, Smartwatches, Social determinants of health, Social responsibility, Sustainability, Telehealth, Telemedicine, Transparency, Trust, Virtual health, Wearable tech, Wearables, Wellbeing

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted and re-shaped the annual CES across so many respects — the meeting of thousands making up the global consumer tech community “met” virtually, both keynote and education sessions were pre-recorded, and the lovely serendipity of learning and meeting new concepts and contacts wasn’t so straightforward. But for those of us working with and innovating solutions for health and health care, #CES2021 was baked with health goodness, in and beyond “digital health” categories. In my consumer-facing health care work, I’ve adopted the mantra that our homes are our health hubs. Reflecting on my many conversations during CES

 

The Comforts of Home Drive Demand for Healthcare There

Two in three U.S. consumers skipped or delayed getting in-person medical care in 2020. One in 2 people had a telehealth visit int he last year. Most would use virtual care again. The coronavirus pandemic has mind-shifted how patients envision a health care visit. Today, most consumers prefer the idea of getting health care at home compared with going to a doctor’s office. Most Americans also like the idea of recovering at home instead of at a medical facility after a major medical event, according to the report, Health-at-Home 2020: The New Standard of Care Delivery from CareCentrix. COVID-19 has

 

The COVID-19 Era Has Grown Health Consumer Demand for Virtual Care

Over one-half of Americans would likely use virtual care for their healthcare services, and one in four people would actually prefer a virtual relationship with a primary care physician, according to the fifth annual 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey from UnitedHealthcare. What a difference a pandemic can make in accelerating patients’ adoption of digital health tools. This survey was conducted in mid-September 2020, and so the results demonstrate U.S. health consumers’ growing digital health “muscles” in the form of demand and confidence in using virtual care. One in four people would consider online options as their first-line to evaluating personal health

 

Healthcare Costs, Access to Data, and Partnering With Providers: Patients’ Top User Experience Factors

As patients returned to in-person, brick-and-mortar health care settings after the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic, they re-enter the health care system with heightened consumer expectations, according to the Beryl Institute – Ipsos Px Pulse report, Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience in the U.S. Ipsos conducted the survey research among 1,028 U.S. adults between 23 September and 5 October 2020 — giving consumers many months of living in the context of the coronavirus. This report is a must-read for people involved with patient and consumer health engagement in the U.S. and covers a range of issues. My focus in this

 

In the Past Ten Years, Workers’ Health Insurance Premiums Have Grown Much Faster Than Wages

For a worker in the U.S. who benefits from health insurance at the workplace, the annual family premium will average $21,342 this year, according to the 2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The first chart illustrates the growth of the premium shares split by employer and employee contributions. Over ten years, the premium dollars grew from $13,770 in 2010 to $21K in 2020. The worker’s contribution share was 29% in 2010, and 26% in 2020. Single coverage reached $7,470 in 2020 and was $5,049 in 2010. Roughly the same proportion of companies offered health benefits to

 

Only in America: The Loss of Health Insurance as a Toxic Financial Side Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In terms of income, U.S. households entered 2020 in the best financial shape they’d been in years, based on new Census data released earlier this week. However, the U.S. Census Bureau found that the level of health insurance enrollment fell by 1 million people in 2019, with about 30 million Americans not covered by health insurance. In fact, the number of uninsured Americans rose by 2 million people in 2018, and by 1.9 million people in 2017. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the erosion of the health insured population. What havoc a pandemic can do to minds, bodies, souls, and wallets. By September 2020,

 

50 Days Before the U.S. Elections, Voters Say Health Care Costs and Access Top Their Health Concerns — More than COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed deep cracks and inequities in U.S. health care in terms of exposure to COVID-19 and subsequent outcomes, with access to medical care and mortality rates negatively impacting people of color to a greater extent than White Americans. The pandemic has also led to economic decline that, seven weeks before the 2020 elections in America, is top-of-mind for health citizens with the virus-crisis itself receding to second place, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation September 2020 Health Tracking Poll. KFF polled 1,199 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older between August 28 and September 3,

 

Health Happens at Home: Lessons from the Parks Connected Health Summit

Home is where the health is, we know in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be sure, many of us who have been preaching that our ZIP codes are more impactful to our health than our genetic codes have known the evidence backing the social and behavioral determinants of health for a long time. This week, Parks Associates convened the Connected Health Summit, focused on the theme of consumer engagement and innovation. I attended all three days’ worth of sessions in this well-planned and -executed virtual meeting. In this post, I’ll weave my favorite themes of consumer health engagement

 

Health Insurance Affordability in the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed many flaws in the U.S. healthcare system, first and foremost the nation’s patchwork public health infrastructure and health inequities in mortality rates due to COVID-19. The Commonwealth Fund‘s biennial report, published as the pandemic continues into and beyond the third quarter of 2020, sheds light on another weakness in U.S. healthcare: the cost of health insurance relative to working Americans’ relatively flat incomes. I explored the details of this study in a post titled Health Insurance Affordability: A Call-to-Action for Healthcare Industry Stakeholders in the Pandemic, published on the Medecision Liberation blog site. The survey

 

The Unbearable Heaviness of Healthcare in America – the Change Healthcare/Harris Poll

The phrase, “burden of health care,” has two usual meanings: one, to do with the massive chronic care burden, and the other, involving costs. There’s a third area of burden in U.S. health care — the onerous patient experience in finding and accessing care, assessed in the 2020 Change Healthcare – Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index. Two in three U.S. consumers feel like “every step of the healthcare process is a chore.” That burdensome patient experience leads to one in two people in America avoiding seeking care, the poll found. That’s not just self-rationing health care due to costs, but due

 

Health Insurance and Demand for Masking, Testing and Contact Tracing – New Data from The Commonwealth Fund

The coronavirus pandemic occasioned the Great Lockdown for people to shelter-at-home, tele-work if possible, and shut down large parts of the U.S. economy considered “non-essential.” As health insurance for working-age people is tied to employment, COVID-19 led to disproportionate loss of health plan coverage especially among people earning lower incomes, as well as non-white workers, explained in the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Poll: COVID-19, May-June 2020. The Commonwealth Fund commissioned interviews with 2,271 U.S. adults 18 and over between 13 May and 2nd June 2020 for this study. The survey has two lenses: first, on health insurance coverage among working

 

What Will Healthcare Costs Be After COVID? PwC Looks Behind the 2021 Numbers

Whether healthcare spending in 2021 increases by double-digits or falls by one-third directly depends on how the coronavirus pandemic will play out over the rest of 2020, based on PwC’s annual report on medical cost trends for 2021. The three cost scenarios are based on assumptions shown in the fine print on the first chart: The medium scenario, a sort of “return to normal” where medical trend could stay even at 6.0%, equal to the 2020 trend. This assumes that healthcare spending recovers by October 2020 as patients return to hospitals and doctors’ offices for regular care patterns. In 2021,

 

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

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

 

Americans’ Concerns About the US Healthcare System Loom Larger Than Worries About Their Own Care

The coronavirus pandemic has further opened the kimono of the U.S. healthcare system to Americans: four months into the COVID-19 outbreak, most consumers (62%) of people in the U.S. are more concerned about other people not having access to high quality health care versus themselves. This is a 16 point increase in concern in May 2020 compared with the response to the same question asked in February in a poll conducted by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (the AP-NORC Center). The AP-NORC Poll found more of this

 

Trust My Doctor and Fear the Office: The Telehealth Opportunity in and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors maintain their top status as U.S. patients’ most-trusted source of coronavirus information. However, as patients continue to be concerned about exposure to COVID-19, 3 in 5 are concerned about being at-risk to the virus in their doctor’s office, according to research from the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) and AMCP, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. Patients’ concerns of COVID-19 risks have led them to self-ration care in the following ways: 41% have delayed health care services 42% felt uncomfortable going to a hospital for any medical treatment 45% felt uncomfortable using an urgent care or walk-in clinic,

 

Health Care In the COVID-19 Era – PwC Finds Self-Rationing of Care and Meds Especially for Chronic Care

Patients in the U.S. are self-rationing care in the era of COVID-19 by cutting spending on health care visits and prescription drugs. The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on health consumers’ spending varies depending on whether the household is generally a healthy family unit, healthy “enthusiasts,” dealing with a simple or more complex chronic conditions, or managing mental health issues. PwC explored how COVID-19 is influencing consumers’ health care behaviors in survey research conducted in early April by the Health Research Institute. The findings were published in a May 2020 report, detailing study findings among 2,533 U.S. adults polled in early April

 

What $6,553 Buys You in America: A Luxury Watch, a Year at Valdosta State, or a PPO for One – the 2020 Milliman Medical Index

Imagine this: you find yourself with $6,553 in your pocket and you can pick one of the following: A new 2020 Breitling Navitimer watch; A year’s in-state tuition at Valdosta State University; or, A PPO for an average individual. Welcome to the annual Milliman Medical Index (MMI), which gauges the yearly price of an employer-sponsored preferred-provider organization (PPO) health insurance plan for a hypothetical American family and an N of 1 employee. That is a 4.1% increase from the 2019 estimate, about twice the rate of U.S. gross domestic product growth, Milliman points out in its report.   Milliman bases

 

Estimates of COVID-19 Medical Costs in the US: $20K for inpatient stay, $1300 OOP costs

In the midst of growing inpatient admissions and test results for COVID-19, Congress is working as I write this post to finalize a round of legislation to help Americans with the costs-of-living and (hopefully) health care in a national, mandated, clarifying way. Right now in the real world, real patients are already being treated for COVID-19 in American hospitals. Patients are facing health care costs that may result in multi-thousand dollar bills at discharge (or death) that will decimate households’ financial health, particularly among people who don’t have health insurance coverage, covered by skinny or under-benefited plans, and/or lack banked

 

Lockdown Economics for U.S. Health Consumers

The hashtag #StayHome was ushered onto Twitter by 15 U.S. national healthcare leaders in a USA Today editorial yesterday. The op-ed co-authors included Dr. Eric Topol, Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Jordan Shlain, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Andy Slavitt, and other key healthcare opinion leaders. Some states and regions have already mandated that people stay home; at midnight last night, counties in the Bay Area in California instituted this, and there are tightening rules in my area of greater Philadelphia. UBS economist Paul Donovan talked about “Lockdown Economics” in his audio commentary today. Paul’s observations resonated with me as

 

Telehealth and COVID-19 in the U.S.: A Conversation with Ann Mond Johnson, ATA CEO

Will the coronavirus inspire greater adoption of telehealth in the U.S.? Let’s travel to Shanghai, China where, “the covid-19 epidemic has brought millions of new patients online. They are likely to stay there,” asserts “The smartphone will see you now,” an article in the March 7th 2020 issue of The Economist. The article returns to the advent of the SARS epidemic in China in 2003, which ushered in a series of events: people stayed home, and Chinese social media and e-commerce proliferated. The coronavirus spawned another kind of gift to China and the nation’s health citizens: telemedicine, the essay explains. A

 

Tools for Paying Medical Bills Don’t Help Health Consumers Manage Their Financial Health

There’s a gap between the supply of digital health tools that hospitals and health systems offer patients, and what patients-as-consumers need for overall health and wellbeing. This chasm is illustrated in The future of the digital patient experience, the latest report from HIMSS and the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM). The big gap in supply to patients vs. demand by health consumers is highlighted by what the arrow in the chart below points to: managing payments and paying bills. Nowhere in the top 10 most commonly provided digital tools is one for price transparency, cost comparing or cost estimating.  In the

 

What’s Causing Fewer Primary Care Visits in the US?

Americans who have commercial health insurance (say, through an employer or union) are rarely thought to face barriers to receiving health care — in particular, primary care, that front line provider and on-ramp to the health care system. But in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, commercially-insured adults were found to have visited primary care providers (PCPs) less often, and 1 in 2 had no PCP visits in one year. In Declining Use of Primary Care Among Commercially Insured Adults in the United States, 2008-2016, the researchers analyzed data from a national sample of adult health

 

The Heart of Health at CES 2020 – Evidence & Innovation Bridge Consumers and Doctors

The digital health presence at CES 2020 is the fastest-growing segment of consumer technologies at the Show this year, increasing by 25% over 2019. Heart-focused technologies are a big part of that growth story. In fact, in our search for devices and tools underpinned with clinical proof, evidence is growing for consumer-facing technology for heart-health, demonstrated by this year’s CES. Wrist-worn devices, digital therapeutics, patient engagement platforms, pharma and health plans converged at this year’s CES, with the professional association “blessing” of the American College of Cardiology who granted a continuing medical education credit for physicians attending a one-day “disruptive

 

“Digital Health Is An Ecosystem of Ecosystems” – CTA’s 2020 Trends to Watch Into the Data Age

In CTA’s 2020 Consumer Tech Forecast launched yesterday at Media Day 1 at CES, Steve Koenig VP of Research, said that, “digital health is an ecosystem of ecosystems.” Health, medical and wellness trends featured large in the forecast, which brought together key trends for 5G, robotics, voice tech, AR/VR/XR, and the next iteration of IoT — which Steve said will still be called “IoT,” but in this phase will morph into the “Intelligence of Things.” That speaks to Steve’s phrase, “ecosystem of ecosystems,” because that’s not just “digital” health — that’s now the true nature of health/care, and what is

 

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

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

 

In 2020, PwC Expects Consumers to Grow DIY Healthcare Muscles As Medical Prices Increase

The new year will see a “looming tsunami” of high prices in healthcare, regulation trumping health reform, more business deals reshaping the health/care industry landscape, and patients growing do-it-yourself care muscles, according to Top health industry issues of 2020: Will digital start to show an ROI from the PwC Health Research Institute. I’ve looked forward to reviewing this annual report for the past few years, and always learn something new from PwC’s team of researchers who reach out to experts spanning the industry. In this 14th year of the publication, PwC polled executives from payers, providers, and pharma/life science organizations. Internally,

 

Medicare Members Are Health Consumers, Too – Our AHIP Talk About Aging, Digital Immigrants, and Personalizing Health/Care

As Boomers age, they’re adopting mobile and smart technology platforms that enable people to communicate with loved ones, manage retirement investment portfolios, ask Alexa to play Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits, and manage prescription refills from the local grocery store pharmacy. Last week, the Giant Eagle grocery chain was the first pharmacy retailer to offer a new medication management skill via Alexa. That program has the potential to change our Medicare members manage meds at home to ensure better adherence, supporting better health outcomes and personal feelings of efficacy and control. [As an aside, consumers really value pharmacies embedded in grocery

 

The Patient As Payor: Workers Covered by Employer Health Insurance Spend 11.5% of Household Incomes on Premiums and Deductibles

Workers covered by health insurance through their companies spend 11.5% of their household income on health insurance premiums and deductibles based on The Commonwealth Fund’s latest report on employee health care costs, Trends in Employer Health Coverage, 2008-2018: Higher Costs for Workers and Their Families. The topline of this study is that average annual growth in employer premiums rose faster between 2016 and 2017, by about 5% for both single and family plans. The bottom line for families is that workers’ premium payments grew faster than median incomes did over the ten years 2008 to 2018. Average deductibles also outpaced

 

Being Transparent About Healthcare Transparency – My Post on the Medecision Blog

With new rules emanating from the White House this month focusing on health care price transparency, health care costs are in the spotlight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A hospital transparency mandate will go into effect in January 2021 as a final rule, and a second rule with a focus on health plans and friendly explanations-of-benefits will receive comments in the Federal Register until January 14, 2020. As patients continue to grow muscles as payors and health consumers, transparency is one key to enabling people to “shop” for those health care and medical products and services that

 

Hospitals Suffer Decline in Consumer Satisfaction

While customer satisfaction with health insurance plans slightly increased between 2018 and 2019, patient satisfaction with hospitals fell in all three settings where care is delivered — inpatient, outpatient, and the emergency room, according to the 2018-2019 ACSI Finance, Insurance and Health Care Report. ACSI polls about 300,000 U.S. consumers each year to gauge satisfaction with over 400 companies in 46 industries. For historic trends, you can check out my coverage of the 2014 version of this study here in Health Populi. The 2019 ACSI report bundles finance/banks, insurance (property/casualty, life and health) and hospitals together in one document. Health

 

Social Determinants of Health – My Early Childhood Education and Recent Learnings, Shared at the HealthXL Global Gathering

My cousin Arlene got married in Detroit at the classic Book Cadillac Hotel on July 23, 1967, a Sunday afternoon wedding. When Daddy drove us back out to our suburban home about 30 minutes from the fancy hotel, the car radio was tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950, all news all the time. As soon as Daddy switched on the radio, we were shocked by the news of a riot breaking out in the city, fires and looting and gunshots and chaos in the Motor City. Two days later, my father, who did business with Mom-and-Pop retail store owners in the

 

The Link Between Wellness & Wealth Is Powerful for Everyone – and Especially Women

In the U.S., the link between wellness and wealth, money and health, is strong and common across people, young and old. But the impacts of money on health, well-being, and life choices varies across the ages, based on a study from Lively, a company that builds platforms for health savings accounts. The first chart illustrates that health care costs challenge people in many ways: the most obvious health care cost problems prevent people from saving more for retirement or paying down debt. Eight in 10 Americans concur that rising health care costs challenge their ability to save for retirement. Beyond the

 

Great Expectations for Health Care: Patients Look for Consumer Experience and Trust in Salesforce’s Latest Research

On the demand side of U.S. health care economics, patients are now payors as health consumers with more financial skin in paying medical bills. As consumers, people have great expectations from the organizations on the supply side of health care — providers (hospitals and doctors), health insurance plans, pharma and medical device companies. But as payors, health consumers face challenges in getting care, so great expectations are met with frustration and eroding trust with the system, according to the latest Connected Healthcare Consumer report from Salesforce published today as the company announced expansion of their health cloud capabilities. This is