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The Food-Finance-Health Connection: Being Thankful, Giving Thanks

Food features central in any holiday season, in every one’s culture. For Thanksgiving in the United States, food plays a huge role in the history/legend of the holiday’s origins, along with the present-day celebration of the festival. At the same time, in and beyond the U.S., families’ finances will also be playing a central role in dinner-table conversations, shopping on the so-called “Black Friday” retail season (which has extended long before Friday 25th November), and in what’s actually served up on those tables. Let’s connect some dots today on food, finance and health as we enter the holiday season many

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In Search of Clinical Effectiveness, But “Investment Exuberance?” Not So Much. Insights From FINN Partners and Galen Growth at HLTH 2022

While venture funding for digital health technology declined globally by 35% in the first three quarters of 2022 compared with 2021, this marks a “return to normal” based on the assessment in the Global State of Digital Health Report from FINN Partners and Galen Growth, published today and launched during the HLTH 2022 conference.                 The report analyzes data from over 12,000 digital health ventures tracked by Galen Growth’s HealthTech Alpha platform. The first chart illustrates the change in venture funding by therapeutic area, showing downturns in four of the five areas called

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

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

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Health Care in the 2022 U.S. Midterm Elections – Considerations for Conversations at HLTH

You and I are ending this week looking back three days, Friday morning quarterback style, wondering how the U.S. 2022 midterm elections could impact health and health care in America. We can never know with 101% certainty the answer to this question following any U.S. election. This year’s midterms leave us especially in need of scenario planning, especially as on this day, we still do not know what the final balance of power in the U.S. Congress will be. Nor can we ascertain, just yet, what the jockeying for power within both the Democratic party and the Republican party will

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The Patient as Prescription Drug Payer – The GoodRx Playbook

Patients have more financial skin-in-their-healthcare-games facing high-deductibles and direct out-of-pocket costs for medical bills…including prescription drugs. I collaborated with GoodRx on a “yellow paper” discussing The Health Consumers as Payer, with implications and calls-to-action for pharma and life science companies. You can download the paper at this link.               The report is intended to be a playbook for understanding patients’ growing role as consumers and health care payers, providing insights into peoples’ home economic mindsets and how these impact a patient’s adherence to medication based on cost and perceived value. With inflation facing household

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

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

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Consumers’ and the White House’s Growing Focus on Food and Nutrition

Today, the White House is convening a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. So it’s a propitious time to weave together some of the latest research and insights into food-as-medicine and a key determinant of health and well-being. This is the first White House conference focused on nutrition and food in over 50 years.               The National Strategy was released today, and covers a range of programs that bake health and nutrition into Federal policies going beyond “food” itself: we see various determinants of health embedded into the Strategy, such as supporting physical activity,

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

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

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Physicians More Bullish On the Benefits of Digital Tools for Patient Care, the AMA Tells Us

Most doctors see the advantages of digital health tools like telehealth, consumers’ access to their health information, and point-of-care workflow solutions, the American Medical Association found in a survey of 1300 physicians, published in September 2022.             The AMA first conducted research with physicians and their views on digital health in July 2016. This year’s study was designed to compare current clinicians’ perspectives with those garnered in the 2016 and 2019 studies. There is a clear and positive shift of doctors’ adoption of and appreciation for digital tools, with “growth in enthusiasm” concentrated in tele-visits, the

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Patient Support Isn’t Just About the Price of Therapy: It’s About Safety, Really Rich Data and Trust

When I talk about patient support programs (PSPs), I’m most often focused on supporting peoples’ access to medicines due to costs, bolstering health literacy, and addressing health citizens’ risks of drivers of health that can be obstacles to optimal health outcomes (those challenging social determinants of health). A new report from Deloitte on Intelligent post-launch patient support speaks to another crucial definition of patient support: post-market surveillance and patient safety.                 The paper’s central thesis is that improving patient support is a critical step in the biopharma value chain, illustrated in the first diagram

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

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

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

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

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Your State as a Determinant of Health: Sharecare’s 2021 Community Well-Being Index

People whose sense of well-being shifted positively in the past two years are finding greater personal purpose and financial health, we see in Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index – 2021 State Rankings Report.                   Sharecare has been annually tracking well-being across the 50 U.S. states since 2008. When the study launched, Well-Being Index evaluated five domains: physical, social, community, purpose, and financial. In 2020, Sharecare began a collaboration with the Boston University School of Public Health to expand the Index, including drivers of health such as, Healthcare access (like physician supply per 1,000

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More Americans Trust Small Biz and the Military than the Medical System, Gallup Finds

The most trusted institutions in the U.S. are small business and the military, the only two sectors in which a majority of Americans have confidence. Americans’ trust in institutions hit new historic lows in 2022, Gallup found in its latest poll of U.S. sentiment across all major sectors.                 Today, more Americans have faith in the police than in the medical system, according to a Gallup poll finding that Confidence in U.S. Institutions Down; Average at New Low. published this week of Independence Day 2022. Confidence runs from a higher of 68% for

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Consumers’ Dilemma: Health and Wealth, Smartwatches and Transparency

Even as spending on healthcare per person in the United States is twice as much as other wealthy countries in the world, Americans’ health status ranks rock bottom versus those other rich nations. The U.S. health system continues to be marred by health inequalities and access challenges for man health citizens. Furthermore, American workers’ rank top in the world for feeling burnout from and overworked on the job.             Welcome to The Consumer Dilemma: Health and Wellness,, a report from GWI based on the firm’s ongoing consumer research on peoples’ perspectives in the wake of

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

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

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

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

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The 2022 US Health System Report Card: Pretty Terrific If You Live in Hawaii or Massachusetts

The best U.S. states to live in for health and health care are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maryland…             Those are the top health system rankings in the new 2022 Scorecard on State Health System Performance annual report from the Commonwealth Fund. If you live in Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, or Arkansas, your health care and outcomes are less likely to be top-notch, the Fund’s research concluded.                 The Commonwealth Fund has conducted this study since 2006, assessing a range

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The Care Crisis – Robots Won’t Save Us

Among the many lessons we should and must take emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding and addressing the caregiver shortage-cum-crisis will be crucial to building back a stronger national economy and financially viable households across the U.S. And if you thought robots, AI and the platforming of health care would solve the shortage of caregivers, forget it.               Get smarter on the caregiver crisis by reading a new report, To Fix the Labor Shortage, Solve the Care Crisis, from BCG. You’ll learn that 9 of 10 new care-sector jobs will be in-person for

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Healthcare access, racial disparities, guns and climate – U.S. doctors are worried about some big social issues

Doctors heads and hearts are jammed with concerns beyond curing patients’ medical conditions: U.S. physicians are worried about big social issues, according to a Medscape survey report, Physicians’ Views on Today’s Divisive Social Issues 2022.               Topping physicians’ list of their top-five most important social issues, far above all others ranked healthcare access. Underneath that top-line statistic, it’s important to note that: 52% of doctors are “very concerned” about healthcare access, 28% are “concerned,” and 13% are “somewhat concerned.” Medscape underscores that in 2020, 31 million U.S. residents had no health insurance coverage, and

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

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

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The Health of Older Americans in 2022 – Risks from the Pandemic, Isolation, and Social Determinants

For millions of older people in America, health and well-being got worse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical, mental and behavioral health took hits, depending on one’s living situation, social determinants of health risks, and even health plan, I write in the Medecision Liberate Health blog.                     In this essay on health disparities and equity for older adults, I weave together new data from, The United Health Foundation’s study on seniors’ health status in America’s Health Rankings for 2022 RAND and CMS research into seniors health disparities among Medicare Advantage

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Social Determinants of Health Risks Challenge the Promise of Hospital-to-Home

In the wake of the pandemic and growing consumer preferences, the hospital-to-home movement is gaining traction among health systems. Amidst bullish forecasts for the promise of hospital-to-home discharges, the ability for many patients to make this migration would be a difficult bridge to cross.           On the promising front, recent studies reviewed through a meta-analysis published in JAMA found that hospital-to-home programs can be clinically and cost-effective for inpatients discharged from hospital. Earlier this year, McKinsey addressed how “Care at Home” ecosystems can reshape the way health systems — and people — envision patient care. This

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

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

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How Trust and Geopolitics Will Impact Health and Business – Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer at the World Economic Forum in Davos

When we think about the state of Trust in in mid-2022, there is some good news: Trust is rising (at least in democratic countries, while falling in autocratic ones). The bad news: the gap in Trust has dramatically widened between higher-income people compared with those earning lower-incomes, globally.             And that gap is “tinder” that can be quickly sparked into a socio-political fire in countries around the world, Richard Edelman cautioned today when introducing the latest look at the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, focusing on geopolitics and business. We have never seen numbers like this

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Stress Is Playing A Big Role in Consumers’ Food Habits: Food-As-Medicine Update from IFIC

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated consumers, globally, to take on more DIY roles as well as self-care for health and well-being. In addition, anxiety and stress are mainstream across demographics and have impacted the way people select and consume food, based on findings in the 2022 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).             In this 17th annual consumer survey, IFIC points to two underlying macro trends that are re-shaping peoples’ relationship with food and health: the pandemic’s impact, and “significant” generational shifts in taste, consumption, and values about nutrition and sustainability.

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Digital Health Adoption Across Communities is Uneven By Rurality, Race, Health Plan, and Gender

While telehealth, mobile health apps, and wearable technology are all growing for mainstream consumers, there are gaps in adoption based on where a person lives, their health insurance plan type, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. Thanks to the team at Rock Health, we know more about these gaps explained in their report, Startup innovation for underserved groups: 2021 digital health consumer adoption insights, published this week. The report examines three areas of digital health adoption: Live video telemedicine Wearable technology ownership, and Digital health tracking.         We all know the mantra that our ZIP code impacts our

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Three in Five People 50+ in the US Will Likely Use Telehealth In the Future – An Update from AARP

“Telehealth certainly appears to be here to stay,” the AARP forecasts in An Updated Look at Telehealth Use Among U.S. Adults 50-Plus from AARP.                         Two years after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, one-half of U.S. adults over 50 said they or someone in their family had used telehealth. In early 2022, over half of those over 50 (the AARP core membership base) told the Association they would likely use telehealth in the future. This future expectation varies by race, the implications of which I discuss below in

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People Thinking More About the Value of Health Care, Beyond Cost

The rate of people in the U.S. skipping needed health care due to cost tripled in 2021. This prompted West Health (the Gary and Mary West nonprofit organizations’ group) and Gallup to collaborate on research to quantified Americans’ views on and challenges with personal medical costs. This has resulted in The West Health-Gallup Healthcare Affordability Index and Healthcare Value Index.               The team’s research culminated in the top-line finding that some 112 million people in the U.S. struggle to pay for their care. That’s about 4.5 in 10 health citizens. Furthermore, 93% of people

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The Demand for Self-Care At-Home Will Grow Post-Pandemic – Insights from IRI

The coronavirus pandemic has re-shaped consumers across many life- and work-flows. When it comes to peoples’ relationship to consumer packaged goods (CPG), the public health crisis has indeed impacted consumers’ purchasing behaviors and definition of “value,” based on IRI’s latest analysis of CPG shifts in 2022 and 2023.           IRI has been tracking COVID-19’s impact on CPG and retail since the emergence of the coronavirus. In this Health Populi post, I’ll discuss the research group’s assessment of CPG shifts of consumer packaged goods through my lens on health/care, everywhere — especially, in this case, the home.

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How Health Gets Built – The Building H Index Thinking Health-By-Design

“It’s hard to be healthy in the U.S. today.” That is the underlying premise and reason for The Building H Index. Health happens outside of doctors’ offices and hospital operating rooms. Health is made in our homes, in our communities, in our daily lives as we go about working, playing, learning, and praying. Too often, in those daily life-flows, making a healthy decision is harder than defaulting to a less-healthy one. Sometimes, it’s pretty impossible given the state of, say, air quality that we breathe, lack of fresh produce and whole foods at the corner market, or seductively designed automobiles

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Health Care and ESG on Earth Day 2022

As health care industry stakeholders and policymakers have begun to recognize and address the underlying drivers of peoples’ health, there’s another acronym that is taking hold in health care beyond SDoH: that is ESG, standing for Environment Social, and Governance pillars of responsibility and activity.               To mark this Earth Day 2022, I’ve written a brief primer on ESG for the health care community published today in the Medecision Liberate Health blog. Here in Health Populi, I’ll give you a few highlights with graphics you won’t see in that essay to illustrate some key

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The Color of Care – Oprah and The Smithsonian Channel Partner on Health Equity

A new documentary and educational campaign on health equity will be launched on May 1st, 2022, from Oprah’s Harpo Productions studio partnering with The Smithsonian Channel. The Color of Care documents stories of people who have lost loved ones in the COVID-19 pandemic as well as expert interviews with frontline workers and public health experts and researchers sharing data on systemic racism in health care that has underpinned racial health disparities since slavery was instituted in America. Oprah’s website talked about the project, quoting her saying,      “At the height of the pandemic, I read something that stopped me in

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How Business Can Bolster Determinants of Health: The Marmot Review for Industry

“Until now, focus on….the social determinants of health has been for government and civil society. The private sector has not been involved in the discussion or, worse, has been seen as part of the problem. It is time this changed,” asserts the report, The Business of Health Equity: The Marmot Review for Industry, sponsored by Legal & General in collaboration with University College London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity, led by Sir Michael Marmot.               Sir Michael has been researching and writing about social determinants of health and health equity for decades, culminating publications

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Making The Joy Choice for Our Health and Well-Being – a conversation with Michelle Segar

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once,” Paulo Coelho wrote in his novel, The Winner Stands Alone. Coelho is talking about the all-too-human condition of facing situations that are unplanned which test our patience, resilience, and grit. Our best-laid plans go awry – especially those for healthy behaviors, like exercising and eating well.             Enter Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH, MS, NIH-funded researcher at the University of Michigan, sustainable-behavior-change expert, and health coach. Michelle is our go-to sage for helping us

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McKinsey’s Six Shifts To Add Life to Years — and One More to Consider

People spend one-half of their lives in “less-than-good health,” we learn early in the paper, Adding years to life and life to years from the McKinsey Health Institute. In this data-rich essay, the McKinsey team at MHI sets out an agenda that could help us add 45 billion extra years of higher-quality life equal to an average of six years per person (depending on your country and population demographics). The first graphic from the report illustrates four dimensions of health and the factors underneath each of them that can bolster or diminish our well-being: personal behaviors (such as sleep and diet),

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Can a Food-As-Medicine App Extend Chronic Health Management at the Grocery Store?

Foogal, a recipe app designed to support patients’ healthy cooking and eating, launched on 24th March. In its initial version, Foogal addresses several specific diet paradigms: for patients demanding a wellness protocol, an autoimmune protocol, or wanting to address insulin resistance. Foogal got my attention via a tweet @FoogalApp on 25th March. The snippet featured a photo of a delectable Salad Lyonnaise, one of my favorite things to eat, which adds a soft-cooked egg and bacon lardons to the greens for an easy light (and delicious!) meal. Foogal was developed by Todd Knobel, who has worked in law, in plastics,

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People in the U.S. Without the Internet Were More Likely To Die in the Pandemic

Access to the Internet has been a key determinant of health — or more aptly, death — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans lacked Internet access were more likely to die due to complications from the coronavirus, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open this month. The study’s key finding was that for every additional 1% of people living in a county who have access to the Internet, between 2.4 and 6.0 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 were preventable. The paper asserts that, “More awareness is needed about the essential asset of technological access to reliable information, remote work, schooling

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The Financial Toxicity of Health Care Costs: From Cancer to FICO Scores

The financial toxicity of health care costs in the U.S. takes center stage in Health Populi this week as several events converge to highlight medical debt as a unique feature in American health care. “Medical debt is the most common collection tradeline reported on consumer credit records,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called out in a report published March 1, 2022. CFPB published the report marking two years into the pandemic, discussing concerns about medical debt collections and reporting that grew during the COVID-19 crisis. Let’s connect the dots on: A joint announcement this week from three major credit agencies,

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Primary Care in the U.S. – Still a Weak Backbone for the Health of Health Citizens

Compared with health citizens living in other wealthy countries, people living in the U.S. are still among the least likely to have a regular doctor or place to go for care. Thus, millions of Americans continue to lack access to primary care compared with peers in other nations, according to a report from The Commonwealth Fund. The Commonwealth Fund has tracked primary care access for many years, and over time has found the United States to lack the kind of primary care “backbone” that many wealthy nations have — whose health citizens also enjoy much better health outcomes that relate

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Techquity: How Technology Can Help to Scale Health and Digital Equity, Live from VIVE 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed long-systemic health disparities in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. Income inequality, sickly environments in homes and communities (think unclean air and water), lack of public transportation and nutritious food deserts combine to limit peoples’ health and well-being., Beyond the traditional social determinants of health, such as these, we’ve called out another health risk that became crucial for life in the coronavirus pandemic era: digital connectivity, Indeed, WiFi and broadband represent the newest social determinant of health to add to a growing list of risk factors that challenge health citizens’ health. Kudos to

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Brand Relevance Has A Lot To Do with Health, Wellness, and Empowerment – Listening to (the) Prophet

s in the seventh annual 2022 Brand Relevance Index from Prophet. The research developed a list of 50 companies representing what Prophet characterizes “the brands that people can’t live without in 2022.” For the 7th year in a row, Apple tops the study. Following Apple, the nine companies rounding out the top ten most relevant brands were Peloton, Spotify, Bose, Android, Instant Pot, Pixar, Fitbit, TED, and USAA. There are relative newbies in this list, representing consumers’ collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and new life-flows. Put Calm and AfterPay in that category, along with Beyond Meat, and Zelle. The

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Doximity Study Finds Telehealth Is Health for Every Day Care

There’s more evidence that doctors and patients, both, want to use telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic fades. Doximity’s second report on telemedicine explores both physicians’ and patients’ views on virtual care, finding most doctors and health consumers on the same page of virtual care adoption. For the physicians’ profile, Doximity examined 180,000 doctors’ who billed Medicare for telemedicine claims between January 2020 and June 2021. Telemedicine use did not vary much across physician age groups. Doctors in specialties that manage chronic illnesses were more likely to use telehealth: endocrinology (think: diabetes), gastroenterology, rheumatology, urology, nephrology, cardiology, ENT, neurology, allergy, and

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Love and Health: The Education of Abner Mason, SameSky Health

It felt super appropriate that I met up with Abner Mason, Founder of SameSky Health, on Valentine’s Day 2022. While we conversed via Zoom, Abner’s positive energy vibrated over the 5,600 miles between him in LA County and me in Brussels, Belgium – nine hours apart, but in the proverbial same room in the conversation. My initial ask of Abner was to discuss the re-branding of ConsejoSano to SameSky Health, but I first wanted to hear the man’s origin story. And that, you will learn, has everything to do with loving parents, the power of education from a young age,

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What the Future of Re-Charging Your Car Has to Do With Your Health

Health care must confront its role in the climate crisis, a JAMA viewpoint asserted on January 31, 2022. Dr. Kenneth Kizer and Dr. Kari Nadeau recommended that, “Instead of contributing to climate change, health care as an enterprise could become a model for environmental sustainability.” This ethos was called out at the recent COP26 UN Climate Conference which resulted in a portfolio of health care initiatives for providers, globally, to address climate change as a macro determinant of health. Consumers — now morphing into health citizens — also can (and should) play starring roles in doing what we can in daily

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The Trust Deficit Is Bad for Health: A Health/Care Lens on the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer

“Health is the cornerstone to our core needs, thereby the cornerstone to trust.” So wrote Kirsty Graham, Global Leader of Sectors and Global Chair of Health at Edelman, in an essay explaining the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer. If it’s January, it must be time for the World Economic Forum in Davos, the annual setting for Edelman’s launch of the company’s Trust Barometer. While WEF is mostly virtual this year due to the pandemic, Edelman has released the survey of global citizens’ views on trust in institutions right on-time and in full and sobering detail. I welcome and dig into the

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The 2022 Health Populi TrendCast for Consumers and Health Citizens

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

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Does Inequality Matter in the U.S.? Health and the Great Gatsby Curve

Compared with the rest of the developed world, people living in the U.S. may be concerned about income inequality, but their demand for income redistribution is the lowest among peer citizens living in 31 other OECD countries. In their  latest report, Does Inequality Matter? the OECD examines how people perceive economic disparities and social mobility across the OECD 32 (the world’s developed countries from “A” Australia to “U,” the United Kingdom). Overall the OECD 32 average fraction of people who believe it is the government’s responsibility to reduce income differences among those who think disparities are too large is 80%

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Health Citizens Link Their Views on Democracy, the Economy and the Pandemic

The pandemic has put health care top-of-mind for health citizens the world over. As the public health crisis continues its up-and-downticks around the globe, people are connecting health care to their national economies and politics, based on a global survey from the Pew Research Center, Citizens in Advanced Economies Want Significant Changes to Their Political Systems. For this analysis, the Pew research team assessed the views of some 2,600 health citizens living in 17 developed countries in February 2021. The study report was published in late October 2021. Shown in the first bar chart, the majority of people in at least

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Effective Health Spending Is An Investment, Not a Cost: the Bottom-Line from OECD Health at a Glance 2021

“The pandemic has shown that effective health spending is an investment, not a cost to be contained: stronger, more resilient health systems protect both populations and economies,” the OECD states in the first paragraph of the organization’s perennially-updated report, Health at a Glance 2021. This version of the global report incorporates public health data from the “OECD35,” 35 nations from “A” to “U” (Australia to United States) quantifying excess deaths experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the obesity epidemic, mental and behavioral health burdens, and health care spending, among many other metrics. The first chart illustrates that calculation of excess deaths,

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

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

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Be Mindful About What Makes Health at HLTH

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

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The Biggest Threat to Our Health Isn’t the Next Pandemic or Cancer…It’s Climate Change

Before the coronavirus emerged, the top causes of death in developed countries were heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and accidents. Then COVID-19 joined the top-10 list of killers in the U.S. and the issue of pandemic preparedness for the next “Disease X” became part of global public health planning. But the biggest health threat to human life is climate change, according to a new report from the World Health Organization titled The Health Argument for Climate Action. It’s WHO’s special report on climate change and health, dedicated to the memory of Ella Kissi-Debrah — a child who died succumbing to impacts

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Consider Mental Health Equity on World Mental Health Day

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

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Genentech’s Look Into the Mirror of Health Inequities

In 2020, Genentech launched its first study into health inequities. The company spelled out their rationale to undertake this research very clearly: “Through our work pursuing groundbreaking science and developing medicines for people with life-threatening diseases, we consistently witness an underrepresentation of non-white patients in clinical research. We have understood inequities and disproportionate enrollment in clinical trials existed, but nowhere could we find if patients of color had been directly asked: ‘why?’ So, we undertook a landmark study to elevate the perspectives of these medically disenfranchised individuals and reveal how this long-standing inequity impacts their relationships with the healthcare system

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Chronic Medical Conditions, Mental Health, and Equity On Employers’ Minds for 2022 – Employee Health in the Wake of COVID-19

One in two people in the U.S. receive health insurance through employers. As large employers tend to be on the vanguard of benefit plan design, it’s useful to understand how these companies are thinking ahead on behalf of their employees. With that objective, it’s always instructive to explore the annual study from the Business Group on Health, the 2022 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, large employees have many concerns about worker and dependents’ health. The biggest firms in America providing health insurance for workers are expecting an increase in

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#HelloHumankindness and Happy New Year….

When Dignity Health, the Catholic health care system, launched the “Hello humankindness” PR campaign in June 2013, well, they had me at “Hello.” When the project went live, Dignity Health’s President/CEO Lloyd Dean provided the rationale for the program, saying: “What’s missing in the public discourse about health care is the fact that while medicine has the power to cure, it’s humanity that holds the power to heal.” Dean pointed to two drivers shaping U.S. culture and the nation’s health care industry: The institutionalization of health care, and, The decline of civility in society. That was 2013. #HelloHumankindness sought to

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Necessity is the Mother(board) – How COVID-19 Inspires Local Communities to Build Broadband

“The simple fact is that the federal and state governments are doing almost nothing to help people who have a broadband service available that partially meets their needs but abuses them with regular price hikes, spotty reliability, and poor customer service. Local governments will continue to step in to build better networks because communities have very few other options.” That “necessity is the mother” motivation to build broadband comes from Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). [FYI, Mitchell’s Twitter handle is @communitynets]. Mitchell is quoted in the story, New data

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The Risk of Food and Nutrition Security in America – A Bipartisan Concern and Call-to-Action from the BPC

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in the U.S., a situation that was already challenging for millions of American families before the public health crisis emerged. While several Congressional and administrative actions were implemented in 2020 and the first half of 2021, the issue of food insecurity — defined as being unable to acquire enough food due to insufficient money or resources — remains a tragic aspect of daily living for many Americans — and especially for children who live in households where jobs have been lost and incomes reduced. Nutrition security has also been a health risk where people

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#LoveThyNeighbor – A Faith-Based Call for Vaccination

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) is urging Americans to “love thy neighbor” by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Sister Mary Haddad wrote in an editorial published in Modern Healthcare, published on September 3, 2021. Sister Mary is CEO and President of CHA. “Some may suggest that there are moral and religious concerns to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” Sister Mary observed. “We strongly affirm the position of the leaders of the Catholic Church: the vaccines are morally acceptable and getting vaccinated is “an act of love.” she asserted. CHA launched a portal on the act of love, featuring lots of science-based articles

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Health Disparities in America: JAMA Talks Structural Racism in U.S. Health Care

“Racial and ethnic inequities in the US health care system have been unremitting since the beginning of the country. In the 19th and 20th centuries, segregated black hospitals were emblematic of separate but unequal health care,” begins the editorial introducing an entire issue of JAMA dedicated to racial and ethnic disparities and inequities in medicine and health care, published August 17, 2021. This is not your typical edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of American health care for so many people, including doctors. Since the second quarter of 2020,

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Nurses and Aides Are Beloved and Deserve Higher Pay; and a Spotlight on the Filipinx Frontline

A majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans agree that nurses are underpaid. Most Americans across political parties also believe that hospital executives are overpaid, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey analysis is aptly titled, Most Americans Agree That Nurses and Aides Are Underpaid, While Few Support Using Federal Dollars to Increase Pay for Doctors, . Insurance executives are also overpaid, according to 73% of Americans — an even higher percent of people than the 68% saying hospital execs make too much money. In addition to nurses being underpaid, 6 in 10

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Our Pandemic Lessons: Listening to Michael Dowling – a #HIMSS21 Wrap-Up

“We don’t un-learn,” Dr. Amy Abernethy asserted as she shared her pandemic perspectives on a panel with 2 other former U.S. health policy and regulatory leaders. The three spoke about navigating compliance (think: regulations and reimbursement) in an uncertain world. An uncertain world is our workplace in the health/care ecosystem, globally, in this moment. So to give us some comfort in our collective foxhole, my last post for this week of immersion in #HIMSS21 is based on the keynote speech of Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health. Dowling keynoted on the theme of “Leading for the Future,” sharing his lessons

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Zoom Became a Household Name in the Pandemic. It’s Working to Do the Same in Healthcare – At #HIMSS21

The COVID-19 pandemic digitally transformed most people living in the U.S., re-shaping consumers to work from home when possible, go to school there, and buy all manners of goods and services via ecommerce. In March 2021, Zoom conducted research into the question, “how virtual do we want our future to be?” posing that to thousands of citizens living in 10 countries including the U.S. As the first chart from the study illustrates, most people in America expect hybrid lifestyles, from fitness and retail to entertainment and education. And 7 in 10 U.S. health citizens want their health care to be

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Can the U.S. Improve Health System Performance with Digital Health Tools? Pondering A Big Question for #HIMSS21

Simply put, is the equation, “Spend more, get less” a sustainable business model? Of course not. But that’s the simple math on U.S. health care spending and what comes from it, according to Mirror, Mirror 2021: Reflecting Poorly, a perennial report from The Commonwealth Fund that compares health system performance across eleven developed countries. The first table details the metrics that the Fund compares across the eleven peer nations, which included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The metrics compared were access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity,

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Women’s Health Re-shaped by COVID-19

While women continue to outlive men in the U.S. in terms of life expectancy, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed continued healthcare access, physical and mental health disparities, and economic inequities for women in America. I addressed the changing state of post-pandemic women’s health in my latest contribution to the Medecision Liberation blog. This first graphic illustrates how women interacted with the U.S. health system during the pandemic in 2020. These data come from Kaiser Family Foundation’s women’s health survey conducted from the beginning of the pandemic starting March 1, 2020, and discovered that women in poorer or fair more likely went

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What Poor Birth and Maternity Outcomes in the U.S. Say About American Healthcare & “Infrastructure”

Cain Brothers is a 100+ year old financial services firm with a strong health care experience, now part of KeyBanc. A recent “House Calls” memo and podcast from two company analysts detailed the state of Medicaid, Motherhood and America’s Future: Giving Birth to Better Maternity Outcomes. Christian Pesci and David Johnson’s in-depth discussion detailed their bottom-line that, “maternity care in the U.S. is in crisis but poised for rapid evolution…(recognizing) that an uncoordinated system with misaligned incentives harms too many individuals, families, and communities.” They lay out the crisis as follows: Medicaid funds nearly one-half of births in the U.S.

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

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

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The Many Factors That Make a Child’s Well-Being Build Our Adult Health – the Aspirational OECD Framework

The ultimate health and wellbeing of an adult depends on the factors that shape us when we are children. A new, deep report from the OECD, Measuring What Matters for Child Well-being and Policies, spells out the many domains of experience that, together, bolster our whole health as we grow from child to adult. The first chart presents the OECD’s framework for measuring child well-being, calling out the nature of being “aspirational.” This re-look at children’s health data is aspirational because it is laying out how to best measure child well-being to set the bar higher for doing so. It addresses

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Digital Inclusion As Upstream Health Investment

Without access to connectivity during the pandemic, too many people could not work for their living, attend school and learn, connect with loved ones, or get health care. The COVID-19 era has shined a bright light on what some of us have been saying since the advent of the Internet’s emergence in health care: that digital literacies and connectivity are “super social determinants of health” because they underpin other social determinants of health, discussed in Digital inclusion as a social determinant of health, published in Nature’s npj Digital Medicine. On the downside, lack of access to digital tools and literacies

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The Healthiest Communities in the U.S. After the Pandemic – U.S. News & Aetna Foundation’s Post-COVID Lists

Some of America’s least-healthy communities are also those that index greater for vaccine hesitancy and other risks for well-being, found in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Healthiest Communities Rankings. U.S. News collaborated with the Aetna Foundation, CVS Health’s philanthropic arm, in this fourth annual list of the top geographies for well-being in the U.S. Six of the top ten healthiest towns in America are located in the state of Colorado. But #1 belongs to Los Alamos County, New Mexico, which also ranked first in ___. Beyond Colorado and New Mexico, we find that Virginia fared well for health in

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

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

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5.5 Million Years of Life Will Be Lost Due to COVID-19 in the U.S. in 2020

In 2020 in the U.S., 380,000 people are expected to die due to COVID-19. These people lost due to the coronavirus would, collectively, have lived another 5.5 million life-years would they not have succumbed to the virus. COVID-19 has cut lives short relative to their life expectancy, calculated in an analysis by the Pew Research Center based on CDC data from 2019 and 2020, coupled with additional statistics on life expectancy by age and gender. The bottom-line from the Pew Research Center’s analysis, simply stated, is that, “The pandemic…has killed many Americans who otherwise might have expected to live for

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The Digital Home: A Platform for Health, via Deloitte and the COVID-19 “Stress Test”

Wherever you live in the world touched by the coronavirus pandemic, you felt (and were) stress-tested. Both you were, and your home was as well. In this year’s 2021 annual report by Deloitte into Connectivity & Mobile Trends, their report details How the pandemic has stress-tested the crowded digital home. This analysis was done, as it is every year, by the Deloitte Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications. Deloitte’s Center commissioned an online survey among 2,009 U.S. consumers to gauge five generations of peoples’ perspectives on connected life in the context of COVID. The report covers the various life-flows of

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

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

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

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

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Americans’ Views on Food Have Been Re-Shaped by the Pandemic: Think Security, Immunity, and Sustainability

As vaccinations jabbed into peoples’ arms in the U.S. continue to immunize health citizens from contracting the coronavirus, millions of folks are looking forward to getting back inside restaurants to enjoy meals out, as well as un-masking when grocery shopping. But people in the U.S. love their food both outside and inside the home: about one-half of people in the U.S. are continuing to cook at home more, according to the 2021 Food & Health Survey published today by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). This sixteenth annual report is a go-to for those of us in the health/care ecosystem who

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And the Oscar Goes To….Power to the Patients!

Health care has increased its role in popular culture over the years. In movies in particular, we’ve seen health care costs and hassles play featured in plotlines in As Good as it Gets [theme: health insurance coverage], M*A*S*H [war and its medical impacts are hell], and Philadelphia [HIV/AIDS in the era of The Band Played On], among dozens of others. And this year’s Oscar winner for leading actor, Anthony Hopkins, played The Father, who with his family is dealing with dementia. [The film, by the way, garnered six nominations and won two]. When I say “Oscar” here on the Health

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Health Disparities and the Risks of Social Determinants for COVID-19 – 14 Months of Evidence

In April 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a report featuring evidence that in the month of March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was not an equal-opportunity killer. Within just a couple of months of COVID-19 emerging in America, it became clear that health disparities were evident in outcomes due to complications from the coronavirus. An update from that early look at differences in COVID-19 diagnoses and mortality rates was published in Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Current Evidence and Policy Approaches, In this report, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, part of

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Virtual Health Tech Enables the Continuum of Health from Hospital to Home

In the COVID-19 pandemic, as peoples’ daily lives shifted closer and closer to home, and for some weeks and months home-all-the-time, health care, too, moved beyond brick-and-mortar hospitals and doctors’ offices. The public health crisis accelerated “what’s next” for health care delivery, detailed in A New Era of Virtual Health, a report published by TripleTree. TripleTree is an investment bank that has advised health care transactions since 1997. As such, the team has been involved in digital health financing and innovation for 24 years, well before the kind of platforms, APIs, and cloud computing now enabling telehealth and care, everywhere. The

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The Post-COVID 19 Health Consumer: Ready for DIY Health Care and More Open to Telehealth

The COVID-19 pandemic has re-shaped consumers for work, school, fitness, cooking, and certainly for health care. PwC’s Health Research Institute has combed through their consumer survey data and developed insights on health consumers, shared in a summary titled Consumer health behavior and the COVID-19 pandemic: What we’ve learned. Most U.S. consumers would be likely to have a clinician visit their homes for several kinds of medical care, including: “DIY care,” as PwC exemplifies as a home strep or flu test, or remote monitoring, likely among 85% of people A chronic care visit, likely for 78% of consumers A visit for

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The Pandemic’s Death Rate in the U.S.: High Per Capita Income, High Mortality

The United States has among the highest per capita incomes in the world. The U.S. also has sustained among the highest death rates per 100,000 people due to COVID-19, based on epidemiological data from the World Health Organization’s March 28, 2021, update. Higher incomes won’t prevent a person from death-by-coronavirus, but risks for the social determinants of health — exacerbated by income inequality — will and do. I have the good fortune of access to a study group paper shared by Paul Sheard, Research Fellow at the Mossaver-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. In reviewing

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Emerging with A Stronger Healthcare System Post-COVID: NAM’s Lessons Learned

The coronavirus pandemic exposed weaknesses in the U.S. health care system that existed before the public health crisis. What lessons can be learned from the COVID-19 stress-test to build American health care back better? The National Academy of Medicine is publishing nine reports addressing health stakeholder segments impacted and re-shaped by COVID-19 — for public health, quality and safety, health care payers, clinicians, research, patients-families-communities, health product manufacturers, digital health, and care systems. The report on health care systems and providers was released this week:  COVID-19 Impact Assessment: Lessons Learned and Compelling Needs was authored by experts on the front-line

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Housing as Prescription for Health/Care – in Medecision Liberation

COVID-19 ushered in the era of our homes as safe havens for work, shopping, education, fitness-awaking, bread-baking, and health-making. In my latest essay written for Medecision, I weave together new and important data and evidence supporting the basic social determinant of health — shelter, housing, home — and some innovations supporting housing-as-medicine from CVS Health, UnitedHealth Group, AHIP, Brookings Institution, the Urban Land Institute, and other stakeholders learning how housing underpins our health — physical, mental, financial. Read about a wonderful development from Communidad Partners, working with the Veritas Impact Partners group, channeling telehealth to housing programs serving residents with

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How Fruits and Veg Can Make Health and Lower Costs – Calling Chef José Andrés to the White House

Springtime is finally emerging on the east coast of the U.S. and my local CSA farm is on my mind. It’s timely, then, to re-visit a research paper on subsidizing fruits and vegetables from a March 2019 issue of PLOS as an introduction to a new initiative growing out of The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) on produce prescriptions. Timely, too, that Chef José Andrés has been called to President Biden’s White House to help address food security in America. First, let’s look at the research in PLOS: Cost-effectiveness of financial incentives for

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How Grocery and Retail Companies Are Delivering Health and Healthcare

The Wall Street Journal featured the grocery chain Kroger in an article yesterday titled, COVID-19 Vaccinations, Tests Give Boost to Kroger’s Health Ambitions. “With 2,250 pharmacies and 220 clinics largely in the Midwest and the southern U.S., Kroger is the fourth-largest pharmacy operator by script count,” the Journal noted, adding details about Walmart, CVS Health, and Walgreens all fast-expanding their respective health care footprints. As more consumers view their homes as personal and safe health havens, there is no shortage of suppliers in the food, retail, and mobility sectors working fast to meet that demand for convenient and accessible services.

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The Patient Safety Issue of Racial Disparities and the Opportunity for “Health Equity By Design”

In 2021, racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare are a top patient safety issue, according to ECRI’s annual list of major concerns facing healthcare consumers’ risks to adverse events that can harm them. ECRI has published their annual Top 10 list since 2018, when the list featured diagnostic errors, o behavioral health needs in acute care settings, and patient engagement and health literacy — all of which play into this year’s #1 issue, racial and ethnic disparities in health care. In fact, among the risks in this year’s Top Ten list, eight were accelerated and highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic

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Stress in America, One Year into the Pandemic – an APA Update on Parents, Healthcare Workers, and Black Americans

A Year into our collective coronavirus experience, Americans remain stressed, with physical health taking a back seat to our daily grinds based on the 2021 Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA has been updating us on U.S.-stress for several years, and more frequently since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of 2020. In their latest report, APA updates their previous profiles of Americans’ stress looking into different demographic groups and coping mechanisms. The topline, across all adults living in America, is that one-half have delayed or cancelled health care services. One-half has

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The Ongoing Reality of COVID-19 – My Conversation with Dr. Michael Osterholm at SXSW

“So close and yet so far” feels like the right phrase to use a year after the World Health Organization used the “P-word,” “pandemic,” to describe the coronavirus’s impact on public health, globally. One year and over 550,000 COVID-related deaths in the U.S. later, we face a New Reality that Dr. Michael Osterholm and I are brainstorming today at the 2021 South-by-Southwest Festival. Usually held live and very up-close-and-personally crowded in Austin, Texas, this year we are all virtual — including the film, music, and interactive festivals alike. While I regret to not be in the same room as Dr.

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A BA Degree as Prescription for a Longer Life – Update on Deaths of Despair from Deaton and Case

“Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States,” according to an essay in PNAS, Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed by Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Case and Deaton have done extensive research on the phenomenon of Deaths of Despair, the growing epidemic of mortality among people due to accidents, drug overdoses, and suicide. Case and Deaton wrote the book on Deaths of Despair (detailed here in Health Populi),  Case and Deaton

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

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

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“Hope Springs Eternal” With the COVID Vaccine for Both Joe Biden and Most People in the U.S.

More Americans are happier in March 2021 than they’ve been for a year, based on consumer research from Civic Science polling U.S. adults in early March 2021. For the first time, a larger percent of Americans said they were better off financially since the start of the pandemic. This week, Civic Science shared their latest data on what they’re seeing beyond the coronavirus quarantine era to forecast trends that will shape a post-COVID America. Buoying peoples’ growing optimism was the expectation of the passage of the American Cares Act, which President Biden signed into effect yesterday. The HPA-CS Economic Sentiment Index

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

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

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Ten Forces Shaping Health Care in 2021: A View from CVS Health

Expanding omni-channel, data-driven, cost-effective health care in the community, tailoring that care, and attending to mental health paint the picture of health through the lens of CVS Health. The company published the Health Trends Report 2021 today, calling out ten forces shaping health care this year. Those themes are, The Year of the Pharmacist The Next Step Forward in Cardiac Care Cancer Needs a Better Roadmap The EHR Hits Its Stride The Mental Health Shadow of COVID-19 Tailor Care to the Older Patient More Agents that Predict Disease Paying for the New Medical Miracle Virtual Care Goes Mainstream, and Diabetes

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The Most Relevant Companies in Health Care – Learning from the W2O Group

Five years ago, in 2016, the W2O Group said that, “Relevance is reputation.” That year the firm began to study the relevance of, well, relevance for organizations especially operating in the health/care ecosystem. 2020 changed everything, the W2O team asserts, now issuing its latest look into the issue through the Relevance Quotient. Relevance is built on recognizing, meeting and exceeding stakeholder expectations of organizations. In the Relevance Quotient methodology, W2O Group defines key stakeholders as employees, patients (including the sick and the well, caregivers, consumers, et al), health care providers, advocacy groups, analysts and investors, policy makers, journalists and media outlets.

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Americans Lost Future Life-Years in 2020: How Much Life Was Lost Depends on the Color of One’s Skin

Some people remark about 2020 being a “lost year” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That happens to be a true statement, sadly not in jest: in the U.S., life expectancy at birth fell by one full year over the first half of 2020 compared with 2019, to 77.8 years. In 2019, life expectancy at birth was 78.8  years, according to data shared by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Life expectancy at birth declined for both females and males, shown in the first chart. The differences between

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The Social Determinants of Prescription Drugs – A View From CoverMyMeds

The COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to define what were basic or essential needs to them; for most people, those items have been hygiene products, food, and connectivity to the Internet. There’s another good that’s essential to people who are patients: prescription drugs. A new report from CoverMyMeds details the current state of medication access weaving together key health care industry and consumer data. The reality even before the coronavirus crisis emerged in early 2020 was that U.S. patients were already making painful trade-offs, some of which are illustrated in the first chart from the report. These include self-rationing prescription drug

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Three in Four People Avoiding Health Care in the Pandemic Have Had Chronic Conditions

By the autumn of 2020, U.S. physicians grew concerned that patients who were avoiding visits to doctor’s offices were missing care for chronic conditions, discussed in in Delayed and Forgone Health Care for Nonelderly Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Urban Institute. More than three-fourths of people who delayed or forewent care had at least one chronic health condition. The pandemic may have led to excess deaths from diabetes, dementia, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, as well as record drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in May 2020. In their JAMA editorial on these data, Dr. Bauchner and

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Ten In Ten: Manatt’s Healthcare Priorities to 2031

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed major weaknesses in the U.S. health care system, especially laying bare inequities and inertia in American health care, explained in The Progress We Need: Ten Health Care Imperatives for the Decade Ahead from Manatt Health. The report details the ten objectives that are central to Manatt’s health care practice, a sort of team manifesto call-to-action and North Star for the next decade. Their ten must-do’s for bending the cost curve while driving constructive change for a better health care system are to: Ensure access Achieve health equity Stability the safety net and rebuild public health

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Food Trends and Hunger in the Pandemic – the Importance of Food Security in Health and Economic Security

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed all kinds of aspects of our daily lives, not the least of which were our food habits — how we shopped for food, how we bought food, how we cooked and baked from scratch, and how our tastes and nutritional choices changed with our #StayHome and #WorkFromHome lifestyles. People who could keep their jobs and work from home connected by broadband learned how to build up pandemic pantries, shop online, and stay well-fed. But for people in the U.S. who lost employment, had hours cut, or were compelled to stay home to teach kids

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