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Phone Calls, Social Plans, and Entertainment As Prescriptions for Older Peoples’ Loneliness

Loneliness is a killer, a health risk factor that’s been equated to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There’s a Loneliness Epidemic in America, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA’s infographic here tells us that there’s a 45% greater risk of mortality among older people who feel lonely. Given that millions of seniors in the U.S. feel lonely on a regular basis, that translates into a huge risk of death for so many older people who feel disconnected from others. “As a force in shaping our health, medical

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

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

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Celebrating “Labor Day” Welcoming Natalist to Our Health Ecosystem

There are many definitions of the word, “labor.” Oxford Dictionary provides context for the definition as follows: To work, as in especially hard physical work To make great effort (as in, “laboring from dawn to dusk”) To have difficulty in doing something despite working hard. For this third point, Oxford offers these synonyms: “strive, struggle, endeavor, try hard, do one’s best, do all one can, go all out, fight, push, be at pains, put oneself out.” And finally, one fourth contextual point: “A labor of love.” That is indeed the perfect framing this Labor Day week for my welcome to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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People Want to Flourish, Not Just Live – Speaking Health Politics to Real People

“How should we define ‘health?'” a 2011 BMJ article asked. The context for the question was that the 1948 World Health Organization definition of health — that health is, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”– was not so useful in the 21st century. The authors, a global, multidisciplinary team from Europe, Canada and the U.S., asserted that by 2011, human health was marked less by infectious disease and more by non-communicable conditions that could be highly influenced, reversed and prevented through self-care by the individual and public health policy

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How Consumers’ Belt-Tightening Could Impact Health/Care – Insights from Deloitte’s Retail Team

Over the ten years between 2007 and 2017, U.S. consumer spending for education, food and health care substantially grew, crowding out spending for other categories like transportation and housing. Furthermore, income disparity between wealthy Americans and people earning lower-incomes dramatically widened: between 2007-2017, income for high-income earners grew 1,305 percent more than lower-incomes. These two statistics set the kitchen table for spending in and beyond 2019, particularly for younger people living in America, considered in  Deloitte’s report, The consumer is changing, but perhaps not how you think. The authors are part of Deloitte Consulting’s Retail team. The retail spending data

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

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

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Can AI Make Healthcare Human Again? Dr. Topol Says “Yes”

“The Fourth Industrial Age,” Dr. Abraham Verghese writes, “has great potential to help, but also to harm, to exaggerate the profound gap that already exists between those who have much and those who have less each passing year.” Dr. Verghese asserts this in his forward to Deep Medicine, Dr. Eric Topol’s latest work which explores the promise of artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, and robotics — three legs of the Fourth Industrial Age stool. [If you don’t know the work of Dr. Verghese, and since you’re reading the Health Populi blog, you must get to know Dr. V now. Your

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Loneliness Is A Health Risk, Especially Among Older People

In America, one in three people over 50 years of age feels a lack of companionship, and one-fourth feel isolated from other people, according to a new poll on loneliness and aging from the University of Michigan, sponsored by AARP. The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging surveyed some 2,000 U.S. adults age 50–80 in October 2018, assessing older peoples’ health, health behaviors, experiences and feelings related to companionship and social isolation. While three in four people have frequent social contact with family, friends and neighbors outside of their home, the remaining one in four have social contact once a

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“Telehealth is a digital distribution channel for health care” – catching up with Roy Schoenberg, President and CEO of American Well

Ten years ago, two brothers, physicians both, started up a telemedicine company called American Well. They launched their service first in Hawaii, where long distances and remote island living challenged the supply and demand sides of health care providers and patients alike. A decade later, I sat down for a “what’s new?” chat with Roy Schoenberg, American Well President and CEO. In full  transparency,  I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to meet with Roy (or very occasionally Ido, the co-founding brother-other-half) every year at HIMSS and sometimes at CES. In our face-to-face brainstorm this week, we covered a wide range

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Care Gets Personal at Philips for Parents and Babies

Our homes should nurture our health. In addition to nutrition and good food, positive relationships, clean air and water, and the basic needs that bolster whole health, technology is playing a growing role to help us manage health at home. At CES 2019, I spent time with Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader of Personal Health with Philips, to discuss the company’s evolving portfolio of products that help fulfill the mission to support people across their own continuum of health. Following CES, I wanted to further dive into one part of the portfolio very important to family health at home: the

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What If Marie Kondo Reorganized Health Care in the U.S.?

Have you read the life changing magic of tidying up, or Spark Joy, books by Marie Kondo? Her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo debuted on January 1, and has enjoyed passionate early viewership by consumers in America who are among the world’s major hoarders. If you opened any pop culture magazine or newspaper in the past week, you probably saw the results of a PR blitz promoting KonMari, the trademarked name for Marie’s clean-out method. As an example, the Wall Street Journal discussed the phenomenon in Ben Zimmer’s profile, “A Guru of Organizing Becomes A Verb” published this weekend

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It’s Not All About Pink for Women’s Tech at CES 2019

This is not a watch. Well, not just a watch. It can track heart rate. And it’s not even pink. Well, rose gold, perhaps. One of the benefits about being a woman attending CES is that there are no lines in the loos. The men’s rooms, however, are, shall we say, over-subscribed due to the big disparity between the number of male attendees versus females. Clearly, women are under-represented in technology companies at all levels, as the ladies’ room observation and many other more statistical reports recognize. But I’ve good news to report on the product front about women-focused consumer

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Here’s Looking at Health at CES 2019

If I’m going to spend a week someplace, it usually has to be Italy. So next week in Las Vegas, I’ll deal with that bias by staying at the Venetian Hotel for the entire week to cover all-things-health at CES 2019, the annual convening of electronics retailers and enthusiasts. Most of the 180,000+ folks come to Vegas from over 150 countries to kick the proverbial tires on TVs, autos, games, virtual reality, 3-D printing, drones, and other shiny new things. For me, for the past eight years, CES means consumer-facing health in a person’s hands, on her phone, and increasingly

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Money First, Then Kids: The State of the American Family in 2018

Most American families with children at home are concerned about paying bills on a monthly basis. One in two people have had at least one personal “economic crisis” in the past year, we learn in the American Family Survey 2018, released last week from Deseret News and The Brookings Institution. The project surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults across the general population, fielded online by YouGov. This poll, conducted since 2005, looks at the state of U.S. families through several issue lenses: the state of marriage and family, parents and teenagers, sexual harassment (with 2018 birthing the #MeToo movement), social capital and

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The Ultimate Health Outcome, Mortality, Is Rising in America

How long can people living in the U.S. expect to live? 78.6 years of age, if you were born in 2017. That’s a decline of 0.1 year from 2016. This decline especially impacted baby boys: their life expectancy fell to 76.1 years, while baby girls’ life expectancy stayed even at 81.1 years. That’s the latest data on Mortality in the United States, 2017, soberly brought to you by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Underneath these stark numbers are the specific causes of death: in 2017, more Americans died

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Radicalizing Kindness for Health: Learning from Bhutan

“Happiness is within, but not within you alone as it is among us. If we can create happiness in a community, then we will be able to attain happiness as individuals,” observed Saamdu Chetri speaking at the International Psychological Congress last week. Chetri is head of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Centre, which developed the Gross National Happiness Index. The phrase “Gross National Happiness” was first mentioned in 1972 by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in an interview with the Financial Times. King Wangchuck said that, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The GNH

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Financial Stress Is An Epidemic In America, Everyday Health Finds

One in three working-age people in the U.S. have seen a doctor about something stress-related. Stress is a way of American life, based on the findings in The United States of Stress, a survey from Everyday Health. Everyday Health polled 6,700 U.S. adults between 18 and 64 years of age about their perspectives on stress, anxiety, panic, and mental and behavioral health. Among all sources of stress, personal finances rank as the top stressor in the U.S. Over one-half of consumers say financial issues regularly stress them out. Finances, followed by jobs and work issues, worries about the future, and relationships cause

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Loneliness, Public Policy and AI – Lessons From the UK For the US

There’s a shortage of medical providers in the United Kingdom, a nation where healthcare is guaranteed to all Britons via the most beloved institution in the nation: The National Health Service. The NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary in July this year. The NHS “supply shortage” is a result of financial cuts to both social care and public health. These have negatively impacted older people and care for people at home in Great Britain. This article in the BMJ published earlier this year called for increasing these investments to ensure further erosion of population and public health outcomes, and to prevent

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Open Source Health Care Will Liberate Patients

Information is power in the hands of people. When it’s open in the sunshine, it empowers people — whether doctors, patients, researchers, Presidents, teachers, students, Everyday People. Welcome to the era of Open Source Healthcare, not only the “about time” for patients to own their health, but for the launch of a new publication that will support and continue to evolve the concept. It’s really a movement that’s already in process.     Let’s go back to some definitions and healthcare basics to understand just why Open Source Healthcare is already a thing. When information access is uneven, it’s considered

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

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

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A Breakthrough, Sobering Report on Teens and Young Adults, Digital Health and Social Media Use: Implications for Mental Health

There’s a load of anecdotal data about teens and young adults (TYAs) and their always-on relationship with mobile phones and social networks. There are also hundreds of stories written in both mass media outlets and professional journals on the topic of TYAs and mental health: especially relative to depression and suicidality. In a breakthrough study, Hopelab and the Well Being Trust have sponsored the first deep-dive into the many dimensions of young people, their relationship with social media, and depression in Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S., The report was

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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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Shinola Welcomes Immigrants on the 4th of July: A Love Letter from Detroit to the World Via NYC

Lady Liberty beckons to welcome the tired, the weary, and the ambitious to America in this Shinola video, made in my hometown Detroit. May this bring you joy and positive vibes on Independence Day 2018.  

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Pope Francis is a Public Health Advocate

“The world today is mostly deaf,” the Pontiff observes in Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, Wim Wenders’ documentary on this religious leader who likes to quote Dostoevsky, joke about mothers-in-law, and advocate for the sick, the poor, the disenfranchised, and Planet Earth. He is, I realized while watching this film and hearing this man of words, a public health advocate. Throughout the film, we see clips of Pope Francis washing the feet of prisoners in Philadelphia, comforting dying children in a pediatric clinic in central Africa, and speaking out to the U.S. Congress about the dangers of climate

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The Healthiest Communities Are Built on Education, Good Food, Mindfulness, and the Power of Love

Be the change you wish to see in the world, Gandhi has been attributed as saying. This sentiment was echoed by Lauren Singer as we brainstormed the social determinants of health and the factors that underpin healthy communities. Our Facebook Live session was convened by the Aetna Foundation, which sponsored research on the Healthiest Communities in 2018.  In addition to Lauren, founder of Trash Is For Tossers, Dr. Garth Graham, President of the Aetna Foundation, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA, and I joined the quartet, moderated with panache and sensitivity by Mark J. Ellwood, journalist. Each

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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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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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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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Hug Your Physician: S/He Needs It – Listening to the 2018 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report

Two in five U.S. physicians feels burned out, according to the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report for 2018. This year, Medscape explicitly adds the condition of “depression” to its important study, and its title. In 2017, the Medscape report was about bias and burnout. Physicians involved in primary care specialties and critical care are especially at-risk for burnout, the study found. One in five OBGYNs experience both burnout and depression. Furthermore, there’s a big gender disparity when it comes to feeling burned out: nearly one-half of female physicians feel burnout compared with 38% of male doctors. Being employed by

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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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Calling Out Health Disparities on Martin Luther King Day 2018

On this day appreciating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I post a photo of him in my hometown of Detroit in 1963, giving a preliminary version of the “I Have a Dream” speech he would deliver two months later in Washington, DC. Wisdom from the speech: “But now more than ever before, America is forced to grapple with this problem, for the shape of the world today does not afford us the luxury of an anemic democracy. The price that this nation must pay for the continued oppression and exploitation of the Negro or any other minority group

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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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Four Things We Want in 2017: Financial Health, Relationships, Good Food, and Sleep

THINK: money and love. To find health, working-aged people seek financial stability and good relationships, according to the Consumer Health POV Report from Welltok, meQuilibrium, and Zipongo, featured in their webinar broadcast today. The online consumer survey was conducted among 2,000 full-time working U.S. adults in August 2017, segmented roughly into thirds by Boomers (37%), Gen Xers (32%), and Millennials (31%). Much lower down the priority list for healthy living are managing food, sleep, and stress based on the poll. Feeling stress is universal across most consumers in each of the three generational cohorts, especially related to work and finance.

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The Mainstreaming of Wellness

“Wellness is a way to cope with the demands and rigors of new modern lifestyles,” according to Ogilvy in their latest report, The Wellness Movement Pioneers: New Global Research Findings. The report makes the case that the mass public are project-managing life adopting mental health, nutrition, physical activity and sleep to boost personal wellness. There is a big business model underneath this, which has inspired Ogilvy to start up the company’s Health & Wellness Practice. Think of this report as the group’s own business case to address the $3.7 trillion global wellness economy, illustrated by the first image. The report

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Celebrating 10 Years of Health Populi, 10 Healthcare Milestones and Learnings

Happy anniversary to me…well, to the Health Populi blog! It’s ten years this week since I launched this site, to share my (then) 20 years of experience advising health care stakeholders in the U.S. and Europe at the convergence of health, economics, technology, and people. To celebrate the decade’s worth of 1,791 posts here on Health Populi (all written by me in my independent voice), I’ll offer ten health/care milestones that represent key themes covered from early September 2007 through to today… 1. Healthcare is one-fifth of the national U.S. economy, and the top worrisome line item in the American

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Loneliness and Isolation Kill: Health Depends on Purpose

In the U.S., one-third of people age 65 and over have difficulty walking 3 city blocks. Hold that thought, and consider the role of purpose in life: purpose drives well-being, inoculating one’s life with meaning, direction, and goals, as the On Purpose guru Victor Strecher explains in his amazing graphic manifesto. Having a higher sense of purpose in life is associated with higher probability of people engaging in healthier behaviors, such as greater physical activity and seeking preventive healthcare; better biological functioning; and, lower risk of disease. Four researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health connected the dots between

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Learning From Adam Niskar – Living Beyond The Wheelchair

After diving into Walnut Lake in suburban Detroit, Adam Niskar sustained a spinal injury that would paralyze much of his body for the rest of his life. The trauma didn’t paralyze his life and living, though. But today, my family will celebrate that life at Adam’s memorial service. Adam was my cousin. He was one of the best-loved people on the planet, and that was part of a therapeutic recipe that sustained him from the traumatic accident in 1999 until Monday, July 31st, 2017, when Adam passed away from complications due to an infection that, this time around, his body

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