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

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

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Pharma Spending Gone Bipolar: Generics At One End, Specialty Drugs on the Other

While the use of medicines continues to rise in the U.S., spending grew by only 0.6% in 2017 after accounting for discounts and rebates. In retail and mail-order channels, net spending fell by 2.1%. Prescription drug spending on branded products grew nearly $5 billion less than in 2016; generic drug spending fell by $5.5 billion, according to Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S., a report from the IQVIA Institute for Health Data Science. The report reviews medicines spending in 2017 looking forward to 2022. There were over 5.8 billion prescriptions dispensed in 2017, and generic drugs accounted 90% of

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How Walmart Could Bolster Healthcare in the Community

Walmart has been a health/care destination for many years. The company that defined Big Box stores in their infancy grew in healthcare, health and wellness over the past two decades, pioneering the $4 generic prescription back in 2006. Today, that low-cost generic Rx is ubiquitous in the retail pharmacy. A decade later, can Walmart re-imagine primary care the way the company did low-cost medicines? Walmart is enhancing about 500 of 3500 stores, and health will be part of the interior redecorating. Walmart has had ambitious plans in healthcare since those $4 Rx’s were introduced. Here’s a New York Times article from

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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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How Albertsons Grocery Stores and Rite Aid Can Help Remake Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

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CVS + Aetna: An Inflection Point for American Healthcare

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

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High-Deductibles Do Not Automatically Inspire Healthcare Consumerism

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

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The Internet of Things via Medicines – FDA Approves Digital Pill

Yesterday, the FDA approved a “digital ingestion tracking system,” the first drug in the U.S. that has an ingestible (in other words, safely edible) sensor built into the pill. That sensor tracks that the medication was taken, which helps with adherence, meant to help ensure that patients who are prescribed the medicine do indeed take the regimen as prescribed. Once ingested, the sensor in the pill communicates to a wearable patch on the patient that then communicates information to a mobile health app that tracks the pill-taking via smartphone. Patients can allow their family and clinicians access to that information

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A Health Consumer Perspective on CVS+Aetna

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

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Income Inequality For Older Americans Among Highest in the World – What This Means for Healthcare

Old-age inequality among current retirees in the U.S. is already greater than in ever OECD country except Chile and Mexico, revealed in Preventing Ageing Unequally from the OECD. Key findings from the report are that: Inequalities in education, health, employment and income start building up from early ages At all ages, people in bad health work less and earn less. Over a career, bad health reduces lifetime earnings of low-educated men by 33%, while the loss is only 17% for highly-educated men Gender inequality in old age, however, is likely to remain substantial: annual pension payments to the over-65s today are

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The Patient Is The Vector: Health 2.0 – Day 2 Learnings

  Question: “What is the opposite of ‘patient-centered care?'” asked a panelist on Day 1 of the 11th Annual Health 2.0 Conference. Answer: “‘Physician-centered care.'” Even physicians today see the merits of patient engagement, as this survey from New England Journal of Medicine found earlier this year. Since the launch of the first Health 2.0 Conference in 2007, the patient has played a growing role in session content and, increasingly, on the big stage and panel breakout sessions. A panel I attended on Day 2 convened five developers of patient engagement platforms and digital tools to help healthcare look and

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Leveraging the Essential Data of Life: Health 2.0 – Day 1 Learnings

The future of effective and efficient healthcare will be underpinned by artful combinations of both digital technologies and “analog humans,” if the first day of the Health 2.0 Conference is a good predictor. Big thoughts about a decentralized future in healthcare kicked off Day 1 of the 11th annual Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA. The co-founders of Health 2.0 (H20), Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, explained the five drivers of the tech-enabled health future. 1. The new interoperability, underpinned by FHIR standards and blockchain. “FHIR” stands for fast healthcare interoperability resources, which are informatics standards that enable data

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2017 Rx Cost Trend Over 5 Times U.S. Inflation, Segal Projects

Driven by price increases, costs for the prescription drug benefit carve-out will increase 11.6% this year, based on Segal Consulting’s survey report, High Rx Cost Trends Projected to Be Lower for 2018, published today. The report is accessible on the Segal Co. website. While the Segal team expects prescription drug (Rx) benefit plan cost trends to be “less severe” in 2018, Rx cost increases is a top priority for many sponsors of health plans as their rate of increase far exceeds those for inpatient hospital claims or physician expense. Drug costs continue to be the fastest-growing line item in health

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Decline in Pharmacy Reputations Related to Prescription Drug Prices, J.D. Power Finds

Cost is the number one driver among consumers declining satisfaction with pharmacies, J.D. Power found in its 2017 U.S. Pharmacy Study. Historically in J.D. Power’s studies into consumer perceptions of pharmacy, the retail segment has performed very well, However, in 2017, peoples’ concerns about drug prices negatively impact their views of the pharmacy — the front-line at the point-of-purchase for prescription drugs. In the past year, dissatisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies related to the cost of drugs and the in-store experience. For mail-order drugs, consumer dissatisfaction was driven by cost and the prescription ordering process. Among all pharmacy channels, supermarket drugstores

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Patients Want Doctors To Know How Much Their Drugs Cost

  Patients want their doctors to know what their personal costs for medicines are; 42% of patients also believe their doctor is aware of how much they spend on prescription drugs. However, 61% of these people have not talked with doctors about drug prices. Nor do most doctors have access to this kind of information at the individual patient level. One important tactic to addressing overall healthcare costs, and managing the prescription drug line item in those costs, is discussed in Doctors and Pharmacists: An Underused Resource to Manage Drug Costs for Older Adults, a report on a survey sponsored

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Pharmacies Morph Into Primary Care Health Destinations

The business and mission of pharmacies are being re-shaped by several major market forces, most impactful being uncertain health reform prospects at the Federal level — especially for Medicaid, which is a major payor for prescription drugs. Medicaid covered 14% of retail prescriptions dispensed in 2016, according to QuintilesIMS; Medicare accounted for 27% of retail prescriptions. “But if affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, responsiveness and choices are among the standards that will be applied to any future changes, pharmacy has strong legs to stand on,” Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said in the PoweRx Top 50

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Global Drug Sales Forecasts Fall For Next Five Years

Total prescription drug sales have been trimmed, based on calculations of EvaluatePharma which forecasts a $390 bn drop in revenues between 2017 and 2022. “Political and public scrutiny over pricing of both new and old drugs is not going to go away,” EvaluatePharma called out in its report. The intense scrutiny on pharma industry pricing was fostered by Martin Shkreli in his pricing of Daraprim (taking a $13.50 product raising the price to $750), Harvoni and Sovaldi pricing for Hepatitis C therapies, and last year’s EpiPen pricing uproar. A May 2017 analysis of prescription drug costs by AARP judges that, “Nothing

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Pharmacy and Outpatient Costs Will Take A Larger Portion of Health Spending in 2018

Health care costs will trend upward by 6.5% in 2018 according to the forecast, Medical Cost Trends: Behind the Numbers 2018, from PwC’s Health Research Institute. The expected increase of 6.5% is a half-percentage point up from the 2017 rate of 6.0%, which is 8% higher than last year’s rate matching that of 2014. PwC’s Health Research Institute has tracked medical cost trends since 2007, as the line chart illustrates, when trend was nearly double at nearly 12%. The research consider medical prices, health care services and goods utilization, and a PwC employer benefit cost index for the U.S. The key

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Helping People On A Path to Better Health with CVS @Retail

“Helping people on their path to better health” is the mission-mantra of CVS Health. Re-branded from its previous identity as CVS/pharmacy, the organization convened a Health Innovation Summit with its vendor partners whose products fill the front-of-store shelves to empower, inspire and support consumers to manage health and wellness for themselves and their families. I was grateful for the opportunity to provide the first talk for the day, setting the context for the evolving retail health/care landscape with the consumer at the center. The consumer is, at any point in a 24-hour day: a person wearing many hats (a worker,

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The Internet of Health Things Can Deliver High Value for Consumers and Patients

Did you know that the Echo Dot was the top-selling gift on Amazon in the 2016 holiday shopping season? The family of Amazon’s Alexa devices was the most popular product across all categories on the ecommerce site. As patients morph into health consumers, and consumers buy into wearable technologies and smart home devices through the growing Internet of Things (IoT), the home is becoming the new medical home. Most healthcare leaders believe that the Internet of Health Things (IoHT) will disruptive the healthcare industry within three years, noted in the Accenture 2017 Internet of Health Things Survey. But only one-half

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Medicines in America: The Half-Trillion Dollar Line Item

Prescription drug spending in the U.S. grew nearly 6% in 2016, reaching $450 billion, according to the QuintilesIMS Institute report, Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S., published today. U.S. drug spending is forecasted to grow by 30% over the next 5 years to 2021, amounting to $610 billion. In 2016, per capita (per person) spending on medicines for U.S. health citizens averaged $895. Specialty drugs made up $384 of that total, equal to 43% of personal drug spending, shown in the first chart. Spending on specialty drugs continues to increase as a proportion of total drug spending: traditional medicines’ share

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The Power of Joy in Health and Medicine – Learning From Dr. Regina Benjamin

Former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin was the first person who quoted to me, “Health isn’t in the doctor’s office. It’s where people live, work, play and pray,” imparting that transformational mantra to me in her 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times. I wrote about that lightbulb moment here in Health Populi. Dr. Benjamin was the 18th Surgeon General, appointed by President Obama in 2009. As “America’s Doctor,” she served a four-year term, her mission focused on health disparities, prevention, rual health, and children’s health. Today, Dr. Benjamin wears many hats: she’s the Times Picayune/NOLA.com professor of medicine at

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Learning Health Behavior Change From the Guru Prochaska

For us mere humans, behavior change is hard. Changing health behaviors is really tough. Enter Dr. James Prochaska, who has been at the forefront of researching and understanding human and health behavior for several decades. He’s the father of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM). I have the honor today to listen live to Dr. Prochaska’s talk at the Health Integrated EMPOWER conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I’ll be addressing attendees on the new health consumer tomorrow. “Empower,” indeed. Dr. Prochaska is all about how people have good intentions to make good health decisions, but we all slip and

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Telehealth and Virtual Healthcare Are Mainstreaming

As the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association convenes this week in Orlando, there’s a lot of telehealth news to curate. The topline of it all: virtual healthcare is mainstreaming, with more providers, payors, and patients aligning in support of virtual health care delivery. Three-quarters of providers have some form of basic telemedicine or telehealth in place. One-third of healthcare providers use some flavor of virtual care technology in their workflow, according to research from KPMG and HIMSS Analytics summarized in the first graphic. KPMG sees virtual care options — remote patient monitoring, enhanced portals, and web interactions for patient-provider

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The Healthcare Reform Issue Americans Agree On: Lowering Rx Costs

Yesterday, the Tweeter-in-Chief President Donald Trump tweeted, “I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!” Those 140 characters sent pharma stocks tumbling, as illustrated by the chart for Mylan shares dated 7 March 2017. This is one issue that Americans across the political spectrum agree on with the POTUS. The latest Zogby poll into this issue, conducted for Prescription Justice, found 3 in 4 Americans agree that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder,” as President Trump said in a TIME magazine interview

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How Amazon Has Primed Healthcare Consumers – My Update with Frances Dare, Accenture

“I want what I want, when and how I want it.” If you think that sounds like a spoiled child, that’s not who I’m quoting. It’s you, if you are a mainstream consumer in the U.S., increasingly getting “primed” by Amazon which is setting a new bar for retail experience in terms of immediacy, customer service, and breadth of offerings. I talked about this phenomenon in my Health Populi post, How Amazon Has Primed Healthcare Consumers. The blog discussed my take on Accenture’s latest study into healthcare consumers based on the report’s press release. I appreciated the opportunity to sit

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Marketing Medicines: Going Boldly and Accessibly for Rx

Over the past two weeks, we see two marketing campaigns emerge to market medicines: first, from the branded pharmaceutical association PhRMA, the #GoBoldly initiative with a theme of innovation and personalized medicine. Second, there’s a campaign from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), rebranding the organization as the Association for Accessible Medicines with the tagline, “keep medicines in reach.” What’s this all about? To put these marketing initiatives in context, let’s start with the publication of Express Scripts 2016 Drug Trend Report. “Drug trend” is short-hand for growth in prescription drug spending, year on year. The first graph illustrates the price index

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Americans Far More Likely to Self-Ration Prescription Drugs Due To Cost

Americans are more than five times more likely to skip medication doses or not fill prescriptions due to cost than peers in the United Kingdom or Switzerland. U.S. patients are twice as likely as Canadians to avoid medicines due to cost. And, compared with health citizens in France, U.S. consumers are ten-times more likely to be non-adherent to prescription medications due to cost. It’s very clear that more consumers tend to avoid filling and taking prescription drugs, due to cost barriers, when faced with higher direct charges for medicines. This evidence is presented in the research article, Cost-related non-adherence to prescribed

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A Growing Medicines Bill for Global Health Consumers to 2021

The global market for spending on medicines will high $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to the latest forecast from QuintilesIMS. Drug spending grew about 9% in the past two years, and is expected to moderate to 4 to 7 percent annually over the next five years. That dramatic 9% growth was heavily driven by new (expensive) specialty drugs to treat Hepatitis C (e.g., Harvoni and Sovaldi) and cancer therapies that hit the market in the past couple of years. There will be a “healthy level” of new innovative meds coming out of the drug pipeline in the next several years

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Digital Health Continues to Grow at CES 2017

I attended CES Unveiled in New York this week, which is a preview of what will be featured at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2017. CES, previously known as the Consumer Electronics Show, is celebrating a 50 year anniversary, having been born in Manhattan in 1967 when transistor radios, stereos, and black-and-white TVs were all the rage. Today, CES is the world’s largest innovation event, and the longest-lived. 10 of the original 1967 exhibitors still show at CES, including 3M, Philips, Sharp, SONY, Toshiba, and Westinghouse, among others. Meet George Jetson, who might have been an attendee at

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Evidence That Mainstream Consumers Growing Digital Health Muscles

About 1 in 2 patients in the US are accessing their electronic health records in early 2016, according to Accenture’s 2016 Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement, Patients Want a Heavy Dose of Digital. This post is based on a presentation I attended by Accenture’s Dr. Kipp Webb yesterday. Accenture conducted survey research with consumers in seven countries for this study. The data and insights shared in this post are based only on the survey results from 2,225 US patients. The proportion of US health consumers accessing their health records grew from 27% in 2014 to 45% in 2016 — an increase of

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43% of Americans Worry About How They’ll Pay for Health Care

4 in 10 Americans are worried about how they’ll pay for health care, according to Americans’ Views on Current Trade and Health Policies, a poll conducted jointly between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Politico. There are no significant party differences between Democrats and Republicans regarding peoples’ worrying about their ability to pay medical costs in the next year. But there are differences in geography, with 53% of people in the South significantly more worried about health care costs compared with other regions of the U.S. Who’s to blame for the high costs of health care that

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The State of Mobile Apps in 2016 and Healthcare Implications

Some of the fastest-growing mobile phone apps help people manage life-tasks every day, like getting real-time directions when driving, finding dates, getting rides, and tracking health, according to The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report from comScore. The chart from the comScore Mobile Metrix survey illustrates some popular apps well-used by people on smartphones, with one of the fastest growth rates found for the Fitbit app — 1,524% growth over two years, from June 2014 to June 2016. In comparison, the Uber app visits increased 828% in the period, half as fast, and the Tinder app, 220%. Some key topline results of

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Health Care Costs in Retirement Will Run $260K If You’re Retiring This Year

If you’re retiring in 2016, you’ll need $260,000 to cover your health care costs during your retirement years. In 2015, that number was $245,000, so retiree health care costs increased 6% in one year according to Fidelity’s Retirement Health Care Cost Estimator. The 6% annual cost increase is exactly what the National Business Group on Health found in their recently published 2017 Health Plan Design Survey polling large employers covering health care, discussed here in Health Populi. The 6% health care cost increases are driven primary by people using more health services and the higher costs for many medicines — specifically, specialty

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Most US Doctors Say They Ration Patients’ Healthcare

Rationing has long been seen as a common practice in national, single-payer health systems like the UK’s National Health Service and Canada’s national health insurance program (known as “Medicare”).  However, over half of U.S. physicians say they ration care to patients. In a peer-reviewed column in the Journal of General Internal Medicine published in July 2016, Dr. Robert Sheeler and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, University of Iowa, and University of Michigan, found that 53% of physicians surveyed personally “refrained” in the past six months from using specific clinical services that would have provided the “best patient care” due to cost.

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The Future of Retail Health in 2027

As consumers gain more financial skin in the game of paying for health care, we look for more retail-like experiences that reflect the Burger King approach to consuming: having it our way. For health are, that means access, convenience, transparency and fair costs, respect for our time, and a clear value proposition for services rendered. That doesn’t happen so much in the legacy health care system — in hospitals and doctors’ offices. It has already begun to happen in retail health settings and, especially, in the changing nature of pharmacies. Retail Health 2027, a special supplement to Drug Store News

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The Drug Epidemic-Testing and Data Arm the Battle

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

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What Health Care Can Learn from the Blood Clot Community

  “Our goal is to create an aware and engaged, irritating set of patients who create a dialogue with health care providers once they’ve had a [blood] clot,” explained Randy Fenninger, CEO of the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA). NBCA’s tagline and hashtag is “Stop the Clot.” Welcome to the multi-stakeholder community involved with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and, clinically speaking, Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). We’re talking blood clots, and the public health burden of this condition is big: it’s a leading cause of death and disability. One in 4 people in the world die of conditions caused by thrombosis. I had

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For Healthcare Costs, Geography is Destiny

Where you live in America determines what you might pay for healthcare. In this health economic scenario, as Napoleon is rumored to have said, “geography is destiny.” If you’re searching for low-cost health care, Ohio may just be your state of choice. The map illustrates these health care disparities across the U.S. in 2015, when the price of a single service could vary by more than 200% between one state and another: say, Alaska versus Arizona, or Wisconsin compared to Florida. Even within states, like Ohio, the average price of a pregnancy ultrasound in Cleveland ran nearly three times that received in

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Control Drug Costs and Regulate Pharma, Most Older Americans Say

The top reason people in America over 50 don’t fill a prescription is the cost of the drug, according to the AARP 2015 Survey on Prescription Drugs. Eight in 10 people 50+ think the cost of prescription drugs is too high, and 4 in 10 are concerned about their ability to afford their medications. Thus, nearly all people over 50 think it’s important for politicians (especially presidential candidates) to control Rx drug costs. Older consumers are connecting dots between the cost of their medications and direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising: 88% of the 50+ population who have seen or heard drug

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Expect Double-Digit Rx Cost Growth to 2020 – Implications for Oncology

In the U.S., spending on prescription medicines reached $425 bn in 2015, a 12% increase over 2014. For context, that Rx spending comprised about 14% of the American healthcare spend (based on roughly $3 trillion reported in the National Health Expenditure Accounts in 2014). We can expect double-digit prescription drug cost growth over the next five years, according to forecasts in Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S. – A Review of 2015 and Outlook to 2020 from IMS Institute of Healthcare Informatics. The biggest cost growth driver is specialty medicines, which accounted for $151 bn of the total Rx spend

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The Rise and Rise of (Specialty) Prescription Drug Prices

Prices for the most commonly used branded prescription drugs grew from a base index of $100 in 2008 to to $264 in 2015, based on the Express Scripts 2015 Drug Trend Report. This is illustrated by the upwardly-sloping blue line in the chart. In contrast, the market basket of the most commonly used generic drugs fell from the $100 index in 2008 to $29.73, shown by the declining black line in the graph. The $112.05 is calculated from a market basket of commonly purchased household goods which cost $100 in 2008, a relatively flat line which puts the 264% rise in

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Digital Health in the Skies Over Europe

“A full medical team via your mobile,” leads an article on clickdoctors.se, covering a Spanish mHealth start-up. This, in the February 2015 (Febrero 2015) issue of ling, the Vueling airlines magazine. I am flying from Florence, Italy, to London via Vueling airlines, heading from an art-and-Slow Food-filled holiday to a couple days of work in the UK. So imagine my surprise as I head to work on digital health and food projects in London reading this article enroute, in the lovely skies flying above the Alps. The story begins: “In 2050 Spain will be, along with Japan, one of the countries

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Prescription Drug Costs Will Be In Health Benefits Bullseye in 2016

Prescription drug costs have become a front-and-center health benefits cost issue for U.S. employers in 2015, and in 2016 the challenge will be directly addressed through more aggressive utilization management (such as step therapy and prior authorization), tools to enable prescription intentions like DUR, and targeting fraud, waste and abuse. Consumers, too, will be more financially responsible for cost-sharing prescription drugs, in terms of deductibles and annual out-of-pocket limits, as described in the PBMI 2015-206 Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Report, sponsored by Takeda. The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute has published this report for 15 years, which provides neutral, detailed survey

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Health Care Costs Are #1 Pocketbook Issue, and Drug Prices Top the Line Items

Consumers are most concerned about health care costs among their kitchen table issues, above their ability to afford the utility bill, housing, food, or gas and transportation costs. The October 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll finds 4 in 10 Americans finding it difficult to afford health care, including 16% of people earning $90,000 a year or more. Underneath that worrying healthcare cost umbrella are the price of prescription drugs, which the majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all agree need to be “limited” by government regulation. Ensuring that the public have affordable access to high-cost drugs for chronic conditions

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Wegmans tops pharmacy satisfaction – and it’s not even a pharmacy

Think of the word “pharmacy,” and what names come to your mind? CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, perhaps. But it’s Wegmans who’s #1 across all pharmacy brands and types, according to the 2015 J.D. Power Pharmacy Study. The big improvement in pharmacy satisfaction in 2015 has been among supermarket drug stores, up to an index score of 851 (of 1,000), the highest consumer score. The satisfaction score for chain pharmacies increased a small 2 points, whereas satisfaction for two other channels for pharmacies — mass merchandisers and mail order — both fell from 2014. It may come as no surprise to Health

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Sports and the Internet of Things: the Scoop & Score podcast

From elite soccer and football fields to youth athletes in public school gyms, wearable technology has come to sports bringing two big benefits of gathering data at the point of exercise: to gauge performance and coach back to the athlete in real time, and to prevent injury. I discussed the advent of the Internet of Things in sports on the Scoop and Score podcast with Andrew Kahn, sports journalist and writer, and Stephen Kahn, sports enthusiast and business analyst. [In full disclosure these two Kahn’s are also my brilliant nephews.] We recorded the podcast on July 14, 2015, the day

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Most Americans say drug prices are unreasonable and blame company profits

Three-quarters of U.S. adults say the cost of prescription drugs are unreasonable, and blame high medication prices set by profitable pharmaceutical companies according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll for June 2015. Profits made by drug companies are the #1 reason Americans cite among major factors that contribute to the price of prescription drugs (among 77% of people), followed by the cost of medical research (64%), the cost of marketing and advertising (54%), and the cost of lawsuits (49%). Regardless of the cost, 71% of people say that health insurance should “always” pay for high-cost drugs. At the same

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The 3 tectonic forces shaping patients – it’s BIO week

Patients in the U.S. are transforming into health care consumers, and in 2015 there are 3 underlying forces shaping that new consumer. This week kicks off the annual BIO conference in Philadelphia, and today Klick Health, the digital communications firm, convenes a group of thought leaders in healthcare to brainstorm markets, financing, and the state of pharmaceutical and life science innovation. An underlying theme throughout this meet-up is patient’s role in health/care. Patients are people, consumers, caregivers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, community members, taxpayers, all. We’re old, we’re young, we’re mobile and not-so-much, we’re amputees, we’re migraneurs, we’re cancer

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Telehealth goes retail

In the past couple of weeks, a grocery store launched a telemedicine pilot, a pharmacy chain expanded telehealth to patients in 25 states, and several new virtual healthcare entrants received $millions in investments. On a parallel track, the AMA postponed dealing with medical ethics issues regarding telemedicine, the Texas Medical Association got stopped in its tracks in a case versus Teladoc, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule for the Medicare Shared Savings Program that falls short of allowing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to take full advantage of telehealth services. These events beg the

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All women are health workers

The spiritual and emotional top the physical in women’s definition of “health,” based on a multi-country survey conducted in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S. The Power of the Purse, a research project sponsored by the Center for Talent Innovation, underscores women’s primary role as Chief Medical Officers in their families and social networks. The research was sponsored by health industry leaders including Aetna, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardinal Health, Eli Lilly and Company, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, MetLife, Pfizer, PwC, Strategy&, Teva, and WPP. The study’s summary infographic is titled How the Healthcare Industry Fails

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Supersize Rx: the impact of specialty drug spending and Hep C in 2014

The number of people in the U.S. spending over $100,000 a year on prescription drugs tripled in 2014, according to Super Spending: U.S. Trends in High-Cost Medication Use, from The Express Scripts Lab. Express Scripts is a pharmacy benefits management company that manages over one billion prescriptions a year. The company analyzed prescription drug claims for 31.5 million health plan members for this study, in commercially insured, Medicare, and Medicaid plans. The big-dollar story in 2014 was Hepatitis C, with a relatively small patient population but a super-sized drug spend as the first chart shows: a very tall blue bar (Rx

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Happy 25 million, MinuteClinic and CVS Health!

Call it a Silver Million Anniversary, if you will: The MinuteClinic just saw its 25 millionth patient. This is a milestone in the evolution and growth of retail health in America, a trend-marker in this growing health industry segment that will become increasingly used by consumers, patients, parents, and caregivers. CVS bought the MinuteClinic in 2006, when the organization treated seven illnesses. Today, MinuteClinic offers 65 services and vaccinations in nearly 1,000 clinics located in 31 states and Washington, DC. In addition, MinuteClinic will grow the number of clinic locations in both existing and new markets. The company will open

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Health is where we live, work, and shop…at Walgreens

Alex Gourley, President of The Walgreen Company, addressed the capacity crowd at HIMSS15 in Chicago on 13th April 2015, saying his company’s goal is to “make good health easier.” Remember that HIMSS is the “Health Information and Management Systems Society” — in short, the mammoth health IT conference that this year has attracted over 41,000 health computerfolk from around the world. So what’s a nice pharmacy like you, Walgreens, doing in a Place like McCormick amidst 1,200+ health/tech vendors?  If you believe that health is a product of lifstyle behaviors at least as much as health “care” services (what our

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John Hancock flips the life insurance policy with wellness and data

When you think about life insurance, images of actuaries churning numbers to construct mortality tables may come to mind. Mortality tables show peoples’ life expectancy based on various demographic characteristics. John Hancock is flipping the idea life insurance to shift it a bit in favor of “life” itself. The company is teaming with Vitality, a long-time provider of wellness tools programs, to create insurance products that incorporate discounts for healthy living. The programs also require people to share their data with the companies to quality for the discounts, which the project’s press release says could amount to $25,000 over the

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The Internet of Things in health care – technology for good in HuffPo

As sensors begin to proliferate our “Things,” from refrigerators to cars, toasters to t-shirt, our health could benefit mightily. Approaching this weekend’s South-by-Southwest Interactive meet-up in Austin, several authors have crowdsourced views on using technology for good in ImpactX, a special section in the Huffington Post sponsored by Cisco. I was asked to develop a view on using technology for good — for health and health care. Here’s my offering: How the Internet of Things Can Bolster Health. The promise of sensor-laden stuff in our lives can work for personal and public health in myriad ways — from perceiving impending epidemics

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The blurring landscape of digital health: the Health 2.0 team puts it in focus

They’re the team that built a brand with the phrase “Health 2.0” before the world barely recognized v 1.0 in healthcare. This week, those folks that brought you the Health 2.0 Conference unveiled the Market Intel database of over 3,000 companies, trying to make sense out of a very blurry and fast-morphing market landscape. I spoke with Matthew Holt and Kim Krueger of Health 2.0 earlier this week to discuss just what’s in this mine of information, and what they intend to do with it. In full disclosure, I have been a colleague and friend of Matthew Holt since his

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Digital health love – older people who use tech like health-tech, too

As people take on self-service across all aspects of daily living, self-care in health is growing beyond the use of vitamins/minerals/supplements, over-the-counter meds, and trying out the blood-pressure cuff in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription to be filled. Today, health consumers the world over have begun to engage in self-care using digital technologies. And this isn’t just a phenomenon among people in the Millennial generation. Most seniors who regularly use technology (e.g., using computers and mobile phones) are also active in digitally tracking their weight, for example, learned in a survey by Accenture. Older people who use technology in daily

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Left Swipe Dat – this is how health messaging is done

In our ADHD-addled, over-messaged and noisy world, it’s hard to break through the media clutter and binge-watching to get a health message out. Here’s the way it’s done: an engaging, humorous, impactful and crisp campaign focusing on making smoking so un-sexy and un-cool, you swipe the prospective date off of your Tinder app. Watch and learn, from The Truth. You can follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #LeftSwipeDat. Kudos to the truth® anti-smoking campaign and the creative team who got this blend of message and medium so right. truth® is part of the Legacy project which is funded by the

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The phone is a gateway drug to health: what MyFitnessPal knows, and what Under Armour gets

65 million people know that food journaling works for losing weight, that it’s engaging to do on a well-designed app, and that health is social. MyFitnessPal (MFP) has the distinction of being a top health app used longer by more people and more effectively than probably any other mobile health tool. Under Armour, the athletic goods company, now has MFP under its corporate umbrella, along with Endomondo, another very popular motivating mobile health tool. You may know Under Armour as a company that manufactures and markets functional workout gear. But this deal is so not about the wearable. It’s about

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Building the health ecosystem: new bedfellows coming together

2015 is already becoming a year where bedfellows of different stripes are joining together to build a health care ecosystem well beyond hospitals, doctors and health plans. Announcements launched last week at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and coming out this week at the J.P. Morgan Conference in San Francisco, the first two weeks of 2015 reveal that new entrants and legacy health stakeholders are crossing corporate and cultural chasms to (try and) solve challenges that prevent us from getting to that Holy Grail of The Triple Aim: improving health care outcomes, driving down per capita costs,

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Health and wellness at CES 2015 – trend-weaving the big ideas

Health is where we live, work, play and pray — my and others’ mantra if we want to truly bend (down) the cost curve and improve medical outcomes. If we’re serious about achieving the Triple Aim — improving public health, lowering spending, and enhancing the patient/health consumer experience (which can drive activation and ongoing engagement) — then you see health everywhere at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. With this post, I’ll share with you the major themes I’m seeing at #CES2015 related to health, wellness, and DIYing medical care at home. The meta: from health care to self-care.

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Getting real about consumer demand for wearables: Accenture slows us down

Are you Feelin’ Groovy about wearables? Well slow down, you move too fast… …at least, according to Accenture’s latest survey into consumers’ perspectives on new technologies, published this week in conjunction with the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest annual convention in the U.S. featuring technology for people. At #CES2015, we’re seeing a rich trove of blinged-out, multi-sensor, shiny new wearable things at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. Swarovski crystals are paired with Misfit Wearables, called the Swarovski Shine, shown here as a shiny new thing, indeed. Withings launched its Activite fitness tracking watch in new colors.

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Self-care is the new black in health care

Consumers’ growing health care cost burden is competing with other household spending: basic costs for Americans are eroding what’s left of the traditionally-defined Middle Class. At the front end of health costs is the health insurance premium, the largest single line item for a family. It looks like a big number because it is: Milliman gauged the cost for an employer to cover a family of four in a PPO in the U.S. at around $23K, with the employee bearing an increasing percent of the premium, copays, coinsurance, and a larger deductible this year than last, on average. There are

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Women-centered design and mobile health: heads-up, 2014 mHealth Summit

This post is written as part of the Disruptive Women on Health’s blog-fest celebrating the 2014 mHealth Summit taking place 7-11 December 2014 in greater Washington, DC. Women and mobile health: let’s unpack the intersection. On the supply side of the equation, Good Housekeeping covered health tracking-meets-fashion bling in the magazine a few weeks ago in article tucked between how to cook healthy Thanksgiving side dishes and tips on getting red wine stains out of tablecloths. This ad appeared in a major sporting goods chain’s 2014 Black Friday pre-print in my city’s newspaper last week. And along with consumer electronics brand faves like

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Thinking about Tony on World Aids Day

I lost my dear friend Tony M. in 1987 in the first generation of deaths from the scourge of AIDS. Remembering Tony, here he is helping me get dressed on my wedding day, along with my BFF Susan. When Tony was diagnosed within months of this photo being taken, he was with full-blown AIDS. At that time, Tony had no access to the portfolio of drug therapies available to an HIV+ patient today. Those were the days of denial, experimentation, toxicity, and really, really tough side effects. We remember Tony and all our loved ones everyday and especially today, on

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Pharma industry update – drug spending, R&D costs, generics, and Botox

The U.S. leads in pharmaceutical drug spending. Global growth in pharmaceuticals will spike in 2014, according to the IMS Institute on Healthcare Informatics report on global pharma spending. The U.S. spends more per capita (per person) than any nation in the study, at about $1400 US dollars expected in pharmaceutical spending in 2018, owing to fewer patent expiries (the end, for now, of the patent cliff) and rising prices (think: specialty drugs like Sovaldi and oncology drugs). The next-biggest spender on Rx will be Japan, at just over $800 per person in pharmaceutical spending in 2018. The “EU5” (UK, Germany, France, Italy

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Health care costs, access and Ebola – what’s on health care consumers’ minds

The top 3 urgent health problems facing the U.S. are closely tied for first place: affordable health care/health costs, access to health care, and the Ebola virus. While the first two issues ranked #1 and #2 one year ago, Ebola didn’t even register on the list of healthcare stresses in November 2013. Gallup polled U.S. adults on the biggest health issues facing Americans in early November 2014, and 1 in 6 people named Ebola as the nation’s top health problem, ahead of obesity, cancer, as well as health costs and insurance coverage. Gallup points out that at the time of

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Health care as a retail business

The health care industry is undergoing a retail transformation, according to Retail Reigns in Health Care: The rise of consumer power and its organization & workforce implications from Deloitte. Deloitte’s report published in October 2014 focuses on the health insurance business, which is newly-dealing with uninsured people largely unfamiliar with how to evaluate health plan options. This by any definition requires new muscles for both buyers and sellers on a health insurance exchange: new product access + uninformed consumer = retail challenge. Deloitte notes another supply and demand challenge, and that’s with the health insurance company workforce: while 93% of health

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Walgreens+WebMD: reinventing retail pharmacy

With the goal of driving a digital health platform for well-informed, effective self-care, the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain and prominent consumer-facing health information portal are allying to move from serving up pills and information to health “care.” Walgreens and WebMD launched their joint effort on 2nd October 2014, a few weeks after CVS/pharmacy re-branded as CVS Health. Welcome to the reinvention of the retail pharmacy. I spoke for a few minutes with David Schlanger, CEO, WebMD, and Alex Gourlay, President, Customer Experience and Daily Living, Walgreens, the day of the launch, to get early insights into the vision for

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Activity tracking is consumers’ #1 demand for smartwatches

Of all the functions a smartwatch could play, it’s activity tracking that’s top of most consumers’ minds. GfK conducted a survey in August 2014 among 5,000 smartphone-owning consumers in five countries — China, Germany, South Korea, the UK, and the U.S. The market research firm found that 29% of people see “activity tracking” the most important function. Phone calls ranked second with 13% of consumers, telling time 11%, and 10% voted for basic apps and navigation system. 7% of consumers noted the smartwatch would be desirable for basic web search. In this survey, activity tracking included the broad definition covering

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Health-wear – at Health 2.0, health met fashion, function and care

Wearables met health and medicine at the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA, last week. I had the real pleasure of shepherding a wearables panel of five innovators during the conference, in a well-attended session followed by an energetic Q&A. The organizations who demonstrated their tools and brainstormed the wearables market included, in alphabetical order, Atlas Wearables, Heartmath, MySugr, SunSprite and Withings. I hasten to add that among the five presenters, two were women: that 2 in 5 = 40% gender representation is, happily to my way of thinking about women’s roles in health-making, a very good

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Dr Eric Topol on the digital democratization of health care

Moore’s Law is coming to medicine. And it will look and feel a lot like Uber: with rich technology underpinning,  consumer-service oriented and friendly, and shaking up the professionals at the front line of the business (from taxi drivers to physicians). Eric Topol, physician and editor-in-chief at Medscape, told a standing-room-only audience at the kickoff of the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference that the democratization of health care is coming based on consumers’ use of eight drivers: sensors, labs, imaging, physical exams, access to medical records, transparency of costs, and digital pills. Dr. Topol referred to the cover ot TIME

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Health info disconnect: most people view accessing online records important, but don’t perceive the need to do so

There’s a health information disconnect among U.S. adults: most people believe online access to their personal health information is important, but three-quarters of people who were offered access to their health data and didn’t do so didn’t perceive the need to. The first two graphs illustrate each of these points. When people do access their online health records, they use their information for a variety of reasons, including monitoring their health (73%), sharing their information with family or care providers (44%), or downloading the data to a mobile device or computer (39%). In this context, note that 1 in 3

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$1 in $5 will go to health care in 2023 – the new health engagement is health cost engagement

National health spending will comprise 19.3% of U.S. gross domestic product in 2023, nearly $1 in $5 of all American spending. This statistic includes the expenditure categories for health spending as defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Office of the Actuary. The number includes hospital care, personal health care, professional services (physicians and other professionals), home health, long term care, retail sales of prescription drugs and durable medical equipment, and investment in capital equipment, among other line items. The forecast was published in Health Affairs article, National Health Expenditure Projections, 2013-23: Faster Growth Expected With Expanded

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Employers engaging in health engagement

Expecting health care cost increases of 5% in 2015, employers in the U.S. will focus on several tactics to control costs: greater offerings of consumer-directed health plans, increasing employee cost-sharing, narrowing provider networks, and serving up wellness and disease management programs. The National Business Group on Health’s Large Employers’ 2015 Health Plan Design Survey finds employers committed to health engagement in 2015 as a key strategy for health benefits. More granularly, addressing weight management, smoking cessation, physical activity, and stress reduction, will be top priorities, shown in the first chart. An underpinning of engagement is health care consumerism — which

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Blurred lines: health, pharmacy, food and care

In the past few weeks, several events bolster the reality that health and health care are in Blurred Lines mode. Not Robin Thicke Blurred Lines, mind you, but the Venn Diagram overlapping kind. Walmart launched real primary care clinics in South Carolina and Texas. These will provide services beyond urgent care, charging $4 a visit for company employees and $40 a visit for other people The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report promoting “nudges” to grocery shoppers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) to buy healthy foods Apple is talking with Cleveland Clinic, Johnson Hopkins, and Mount Sinai Medical

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How smart do you want your home to be?

Smarter homes can conserve energy, do dirty jobs, and remind you to take your medicine. In doing all these things, smart homes can also collect data about what you do inside every single room of that home. The fast convergence of Wi-Fi and sensors are laying the foundation for the Internet of Things, where objects embedded with sensors do things they’re specially designed to do, and collect information while doing them. This begs the questions: what do you want to know about yourself and your family? How much do you want to know? And, with whom do you want to

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Apple and Google and Samsung, Oh My!

Three of the world’s biggest technology companies – Apple, Google and Samsung — have made big announcements in the world of connected health in the past few weeks. A fourth is positioned to enter the fray. These major announcements illustrate the convergence of consumer technology, health, and wearables, with the potential for Big Data and population health impacts. Among the three tech giants, Samsung announced its consumer health/tech story first, on May 28, 2014, at its Digital Health Initiative meeting. Samsung unveiled the Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions platform, SAMI, along with the Simband prototype wristband that would enable users to

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We are all self-insured until we get sick – especially if we are women

During my conversation with a prominent pharma industry analyst yesterday, he observed, “As a consumer, you are self-insured until you get sick.” My brain then flashed back to a graph from the 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey conducted annually by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The chart is shown here. It illustrates the upward line indicating that in 2013, 4 in 5 workers were enrolled in a health plan that included an annual deductible. That’s the “self-insurance” part of the observation my astute conversationalist noted. Simply put, when you are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, You, The Consumer, are responsible for

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The retailization of digital health: Consumer Electronics Association mainstreams health

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has formed a new Health and Fitness Technology Division, signalling the growing-up and mainstreaming of digital health in everyday life. The CEA represents companies that design, manufacture and market goods for people who pay for stuff that plugs into electric sockets and operate on batteries — like TVs, phones, music playing and listening, kitchen appliances, electronic games, and quite prominent at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, e-cigarettes (rebranding “safe smoking” as “vaping” technology). In its press release announcing this news, CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro says, “Technology innovations now offer unprecedented opportunities for consumers to

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The appification of health – a bullish outlook from Mobiquity

Over half of people using health and fitness apps began using them over six months ago, and one-half of these people who have downloaded health and fitness apps use them daily according to survey research summarized in the report, Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness from Mobiquity. The company contracted a survey conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2014 who use or plan to use mobile apps to track health and fitness. Thus the “N” in this study was a group of people already interested in self-tracking health and not representative of the broader U.S. consumer

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Consumers’ spending on medicine grows – the retailization of health care

People are spending more out of their own pockets on health care, and particularly for medications. There are two sides to the medicine-spending coin: there’s the low-end which are generic drugs, most of which carry a co-pay of $10 or less. Then there’s the high end of specialty pharmaceuticals, a fast-growing category of very expensive products for which many consumers dearly pay — if and when they choose to take their doctors’ recommendations. In Medicine use and shifting costs of healthcare, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reports that while (inexpensive) generic drugs comprise 86% of prescriptions in the U.S., it’s high

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The New Chief Patient Officer

There’s a new member in the C-suite in health care, and her name is the Chief Patient Officer (CPO). That new role in health-town is filled by Dr. Anne Beal, appointed by Sanofi, the global biopharma company, to fill this new job description. Here she is, shaking hands with Colin Powell in one of the many awards ceremonies where Dr. Beal’s work in public health has been lauded. But what is a CPO? Because it’s a new job, Dr. Beal can create the role, at least within the environment and mission of Sanofi and the larger life sciences world. Some

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People want to DIY with pharma

In our increasingly-DIY society, most consumers expect high levels of access and customer service from the organizations with whom we engage. With more consumers reaching into their pockets to pay for health services and products, the health industry is increasingly a retail-facing environment. So expect quality service levels from their healthcare touch points. The pharmaceutical and prescription drug touch point is not exempt from this expectation, as learned by an Accenture survey analyzed in Great Expectations: Why Pharma Companies Can’t Ignore Patient Services. As the first picture shows, 70% of patients think pharma companies are responsible for bundling information and services

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Health care in a multiscreen world

In 2014, we are digital omnivores. Most people “consume” information and entertainment on more than one screen: 7 hours’ worth over a 5-hour period. You read that right: most people who watch TV, use a laptop or PC, smartphone or tablet are multitasking use of these devices in parallel. And above all, people are using smartphones as their primary screen. The AdReaction: Marketing in a multiscreen world report from Millward Brown paints a picture of global consumers who are cobbling together multiscreen experiences. The smartphone has become the “do it all” device if you don’t carry a laptop or tablet around, especially favored

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The digital health bubble – is it about to burst? #SXSW

That’s a useful and timely question, given the news that Castlight Health will launch its IPO with valuations north of $1 billion. Yes, “billions,” and according to a  MarketWatch analysis, “it’s a bargain at $1 billion.” So then – do we anticipate a bubble? asked Marc Monseau of the Mint Collective, the convener of our panel who brought together Robert Stern, a successful health-tech entrepreneur whose latest venture, @PointofCare, focuses on patient engagement; Marco Smit of Next Innovation Health Partners (parting from the Health 2.0 Conference family where he led Health 2.0 Advisors for several years); and me. Some key

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Health data data everywhere – let’s human-scale it / Report from #SXSW #SXSH

Health data is everywhere, but not much useful to drink. Is #bigdata in health care at the top of the Hype Cycle? And how do we humanize it, make it relevant and useful for our everyday life? In other words, can this data help us hack our lives and health for the better? That question has been on my mind for the past couple of years since the convergence of big data and data analytics and health has emerged. Yesterday at the 2014 South-by-Southwest happening, I attended a panel discussion called Hacking Your Life For Better Health (#hacklife on Twitter).

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Digital health is hot at South-by-Southwest #SXSH

Today kicked off the 2014 South-by-Southwest Festival (#SXSW) in Austin, TX, running until March 16 and featuring dozens of sessions, concerts, video, and fireside chats in music, film and interactive segments. I’ll be involved in an interactive session on Tuesday called “The Digital Health Bubble – Is It About to Burst?” This panel includes Marc Monseau (@MDMonseau) who is a pioneer in health and social media (building J&J’s early leadership in social health online); Marco Smit (@MrHealth20) who leads Health 2.0 Advisors and is a veteran strategist in several health/tech companies; and, Robert Stern, Founder/CEO of @PointofCare, a health IT platform that

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HIMSS14 Monday Morning Quarterback – The Key Takeaways

Returning to terra firma following last week’s convening of the 2014 annual HIMSS conference…taking some time off for family, a funeral, the Oscars, and dealing with yet another snowstorm…I now take a fresh look back at #HIMSS14 at key messages. In random order, the syntheses are: Healthcare in America has entered an era of doing more, with less...and health information technology is a strategic investment for doing so. The operational beacon going forward is moving toward The Triple Aim: building population health, enhancing the patient’s experience, and lowering costs per patient. The CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, spoke of the

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Patient engagement and mobile health – design and timing matter

Thinking about personal health information technology – the wearable devices, remote health monitors, digital weight scales, and Bluetooth-enabled medical equipment scaled for the home – there are two glasses. One is half-full and the other, half-empty. The half-full glass is the proliferation of consumer-facing devices like Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike, which comprise the lion’s market share in the health wearables segment; the mass adoption of mobile phones and tablets; consumers’ multi-screen media behavior (as tracked by Nielsen); and consumers’ growing share of medical spending, now about 40% of annual spending (or something north of $8,000 for a family of four

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Patients play a starring role at #HIMSS14 – Best In Show

Even before stepping into the Orlando Convention Center on Sunday 23 February 2014, my clairvoyant powers know the forecast of the Best in Show: the growing role of patients in health care, reflected in both the education session at the annual 2014 meeting of HIMSS as well as the product/service mix being proffered on the convention show floor. As a member of HIMSS Connected Patient Committee, I know first-hand the conscious effort and energy that the organization has committed to getting real about patients’-peoples’-caregivers’ central role in health care. The organization was built on providers and technology. When I first

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Watson goes wellness

IBM’s data analytics engine Watson, having cut its teeth on complex health care conditions like cancer, is now entering an even more challenging space: wellness. Why is wellness more challenging? Because understanding a person’s wellness goes beyond mining data from health care claims silos in hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians’ electronic health records. Wellness happens where we live, work, play and pray. Wellness is nurtured through choices made every day at home, in the workplace, and at moments-of-truth in the grocery store and restaurant where slick marketing messages planted in our subconscious compete with our more rational minds that tell us to

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Managing cost and utilization are top goals for specialty pharmacy buyers

While the prescription drug bill makes up about 10% of U.S. national health spending, the fastest-growing component of pharmacy spending is specialty medications. These are categorized as “specialty” drugs because they rarely have generic equivalents, and treat serious or life-threatening diseases (such as cancer, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis). They are also “special” because specialty pharmaceuticals average $3,000 per patient per month and can surpass $100,000 a year for certain products. As a result, the top two goals for managing specialty medications among employers are #1, to reduce inappropriate utilization, and #2, to reduce drug acquisition costs, based on a survey

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What CVS going tobacco-free means for health and business

Bravo! to CVS/pharmacy who today announced it would pull tobacco products from store shelves by October 2014. “The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” the company’s press release asserts. The move will cost CVS $1.5 billion in revenue annually, as the company seeks to consolidate its position as a health company. CVS/pharmacy is part of CVS Caremark, which includes the retail pharmacy chain (the second-largest in the U.S.), a pharmacy benefit management company (Caremark), and retail health clinics (Minute Clinics). CVS Caremark also participates in a healthy communities program issuing grants for projects that focus on health

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Connected Health – the technology is ready, providers on the cusp

The convergence of technology developments – such as the internet, mobile phone adoption, cloud computing, sensors, electronic health records – with societal evolution including consumerism, demand for transparency, and “flatter” organizations – enable the phenomenon of Connected Health. Connected Health by definition includes mobile health (mHealth), telehealth and telemedicine, as presented in the February 2014 issue of Health Affairs which is dedicated to this theme. Why Connected Health’s time is Now relates to those factors cited above, and the underlying challenge of managing health care costs. While all nations in the developed world are facing difficult health economies, the U.S. spends so

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Pharma and the health industry: when will they finally meet us Where We Live?

Millions of health citizens, consumers, patients and caregivers flock to Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia every day the world over to seek health information, advocate for patients’ access to a cancer therapy on a health blog, engage in peer-to-peer health care in a social network, and bolster each others’ management of chronic medical conditions in a chat community. Yet the pharmaceutical and medical device industries rank well behind other industries vis-à-vis the use of social media, asserts Engaging patients through social media, with the punchline question: is healthcare ready for empowered and digitally demanding patients? from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, published on

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