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Prescription Drug Coverage at Work: Common, Complex, and Costly

Getting health insurance at work means also having prescription drug coverage; 99% of covered workers’ companies cover drugs, based on the 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). I covered the top-line of this important annual report in yesterday’s Health Populi post, which found that the health insurance premium for a family of four covered in the workplace has reached $18,764 — approaching the price of a new 2017 small car according to the Kelley Blue Book. The complexities of prescription drug plans have proliferated, since KFF began monitoring the drug portion of health benefits

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Americans and Prescription Drugs: Cost, Misuse, and Self-Rationing

In 2017, Americans’ relationship with prescription drugs can be characterized in three ways: cost-rationing, misuse, and abuse. Three new studies about medicines in America paint this picture, brought to light by the AARP, Truven Analytics, and Quest Diagnostics. First, let’s look at the cost issue covered by AARP. AARP tracks the cost of prescription drugs among its constituents, namely people 50 years of age and over. The data were published in AARP’s Rx Price Watch Report, Trends in Retail Prices of Specialty Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans, 2006-2015. The average annual cost for one specialty medication used for

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The Family That Eats Dinner Together Gets Healthy Together

When a family eats together, they eat more nutritiously, A family that shares 3 or more meals together each week has a 24% greater consumption of nutritious food. Yet only one-half of families in the U.S. with kids under 18 eat dinner together every night of the week, a Gallup poll found. It’s National Family Meals Month. Eating together as a family is a social determinant of health, and the Food Marketing Institute dedicates the month of September to promote the old school concept of the “family meal.” Nutrition habits are built from early childhood. More kids are showing interest

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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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Health on the High Seas – Mandara Spa on the NCL Breakaway

“Health is very addictive,” Michaela Deeley told me. “The way you feel once you start to feel good… you don’t want to stop.” Michaela is the manager at the Mandara Spa on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship, the Breakaway, which sails weekly from New York City to Bermuda. I appreciated the opportunity to interview Michaela about how medical tourism is a growth business for the cruise industry, and a welcome on-ramp to health and wellness for passengers. “Health on a cruise ship?” you ask. In fact, this area of the146,000 ton ship [which accommodates 3,963 passengers and 1,657 crew is

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Women’s Access to Health Care Improved Under the Affordable Care Act

    The Affordable Care Act (ACT) was implemented in 2010. Since the inception of the ACA, the proportion of uninsured women in the U.S. fell by nearly one-half, from 19 million in 2010 to 11 million in 2016. The Commonwealth Fund has documented the healthcare gains that American women made since the ACA launch in their issue brief, How the Affordable Care Act Has Helped Women Gain Insurance and Improved Their Ability to Get Health Care, published earlier this month. The first chart talks about insurance: health care plan coverage, which is the prime raison d’être of the ACA. It’s

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Loneliness and Isolation Kill: Health Depends on Purpose

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

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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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Learning From Adam Niskar – Living Beyond The Wheelchair

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

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Health Equity Lessons from July 23, 1967, Detroit

On July 23, 1967, I was a little girl wearing a pretty dress, attending my cousin’s wedding at a swanky hotel in mid-town Detroit. Driving home with my parents and sisters after the wedding, the radio news channel warned us of the blazing fires that were burning in a part of the city not far from where we were on a highway leading out to the suburbs. Fifty years and five days later, I am addressing the subject of health equity at a speech over breakfast at the American Hospital Association 25th Annual Health Leadership Summit today. In my talk,

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Weaving Accenture’s Five Digital Health Technology Trends for 2017

Technology should serve people, and Accenture has identified five major key trends that, together, could forge a person-centered, -friendly, -empowering healthcare system. This is Accenture’s Digital Health Technology Vision for 2017. “Should” and “could” are the important adverbs here, because if tech doesn’t deliver, driving efficiency and effectiveness, personalizing medical treatments, and inspiring people to become more health literate and health-engaging, then tech is just a Field of Dreams being built and available, with no people taking advantage of the potential benefits. The five new-new tech trends are: AI is the new UI, where healthcare experience is everything Ecosystem power

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Strengthening Chronic Care Is Both Personal and Financial for the Patient

  6 in 10 people diagnosed with a chronic condition do not feel they’re doing everything they can to manage their condition. At the same time, 67% of healthcare providers believe patients aren’t certain about their target health metrics. Three-quarters of physicians are only somewhat confident their patients are truly informed about their present state of health. Most people and their doctors are on the same page recognizing that patients lack confidence in managing their condition, but how to remedy this recognized challenge? The survey and report, Strengthening Chronic Care, offers some practical advice. This research was conducted by West

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Patients and “Their” Medical Records: Crossing the Chasm

Most physician practices and hospitals in the U.S. have installed electronic health records (EHRs). But in a classic Field of Dreams scenario, we have made patients’ medical records digital, but people aren’t asking for them or accessing them en masse. “How do we make it easier for patients to request and manage their own data?” asks a report from the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC), Improving the Health Records Request Process for Patients – Highlights from User Experience Research. The ONC has been responsible for implementing the HITECH Act’s provisions, ensuring that health care providers have met Meaningful

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The Art of Emojis in Constipation-Conversation

“Constipation is hard. Talking about it is even harder,” reads a card I received from the senior director of marketing at Synergy Pharmaceuticals. Emojis-meet-direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical promotion in a new campaign from the drug company, which is embarking on a disease education campaign to bring greater awareness to the condition of chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This condition impacts 14% of the global population. The messengers for this effort are a cast of emojis who populate a continuum from constipation-to-diarrhea and every poop step in-between. Meet The Poop Troop: Stressed-Out Stooly Clogged Chris Left-Out Lumpy Plugged-Up Paulie Miss La Poop Mr. Smooth Sausage Sally

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Shopping Food for Health: the 2017 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends

Wellness is at the grocery store, the vast majority of U.S. health citizens say. 8 in 10 U.S. shoppers are concerned about the nutritional content in the food they eat. As grocery shoppers look for more fresh and less processed foods, grocery stores are seen as trusted allies for meeting wellness needs. Grocers are coupling the growth of more healthy packaged foods in the middle of the store with more fresh and prepared food options that consumers see as healthier than restaurant meals, according to U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2017 from FMI (the Food Marketing Institute) and Hartman Group. While

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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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Healthcare Cost Concerns Trump All Others Across the Generations

Patients, evolving into health consumers, seek a better healthcare experience. While most people are pretty satisfied with their medical care, cost and confusion reign. This is the topline finding of a study from Oliver Wyman appropriately titled, Complexity and Opportunity, a survey of U.S. health consumers’ worries and wants. Oliver Wyman collaborated on the research with the FORTUNE Knowledge Group. Consumers’ biggest healthcare concerns deal with costs: rising insurance premiums; greater out-of-pocket costs for care not covered by insurance; and, the growing costs of prescription drugs together rank as the top 3 healthcare concerns in this study. After costs, consumers cite government

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U.S. Consumers Expect, But Don’t See, Innovation From the Health & Wellness Industry

U.S. consumers consider Consumer Electronics to be the most innovative industry they know. But people believe that Health & Wellness should be the most innovative sector in the economy. Welcome to the 2017 Klick Health Consumer Survey, which focuses on health innovation in the context of peoples’ hopes for technology to improve health and healthcare. 1 in 2 people say that technology has had a positive impact on their health and wellness, skewing slightly more toward younger people (although 45% of people 55 years of age and older agree that tech positively contributes to health. 41% of consumers say they’ve

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From Hospitality to Health-pitality to Sportspitality

“Stay well, even on the road,” welcomes the chain of EVEN Hotels. That message from a hospitality company is part of the growth of the retail health landscape, driven by consumers’ desire to live well and make healthy decisions every day – even during business trips. The message is that, “Wellness is more than a word. It’s your way of life. But when it’s time to travel, it all falls apart,” Who among us road warriors for work doesn’t get that message? This is a real trend that engaged health consumers have begun to demand. A friend of mine traveled this week

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Amazon’s Health Care Building Blocks

In the past few weeks, two announcements from Amazon point to a strategy, whether intended or my dot-connecting, that the ecommerce leader has the health of its customers in its sights. In late May, CNBC first published the news that Amazon was seeking out a candidate to be a general manager for a pharmacy business. Here’s the video telling the story. Getting into the retail pharmacy channel is in itself a huge message to this health industry segment, which is very competitive between chain pharmacies (led by CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid), grocery pharmacies (the largest of which are Kroger and

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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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So Far, Food and Nutrition Aren’t Baked Into President Trump’s Health Policies

The FDA is delaying the public posting of calorie counts, a policy that President Obama’s administration had pioneered for public health and wellness. Menu labeling has applied to grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, movie theaters and sports stadiums that sell prepared food. “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the menu labeling requirements would be ‘unwise and unhelpful’ as currently written, and added that the FDA is looking for ways to make the rules ‘more flexible and less burdensome.'” Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama took on the issue of healthy food and fitness for America’s children. Except for keeping her White

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Home Is the New and Future Medical Home for Dialysis

The economics of kidney disease in America is a hefty burden: about 26 million people in the U.S. have some aspect of chronic kidney disease and are at-risk of kidney failure. The number of people diagnosed with kidney disease doubled during each of the last two decades, according to the American Society of Nephrology. The annual cost of treating end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is over $32 billion, consuming 28% of Medicare expenditures…and increasing. Now consider the personal costs of dialysis in America: about $500 for a single hemodialysis treatment in a center, roughly $72,000 a year for one patient. There

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Healthier Eating Is the Peoples’ Health Reform: the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index

The top healthiest eating communities tend to circle the perimeter of the map of the lower 48 U.S. states. In these towns, more than 72% of health citizens report healthy eating. These areas are located in California, Florida, and Massachusetts, among others. Areas with the lowest rates of healthy eating are concentrated generally south of the Mason-Dixon Line, in places like Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and other states. In these places, fewer than 57% of people eat healthy. Eating healthy foods in moderation is a mighty contributor to personal and public health, discussed in the report, State of American Well-Being

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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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Consumer Healthcare Reviews on Yelp Help

Just as consumers use TripAdvisor, Zagat, OpenTable, and their Facebook pages to review restaurants, hotels, automobiles, and financial services companies, many patients – now health consumers in earnest – have taken to reviewing healthcare services in social networks. Finding reliable, understandable information about healthcare quality and prices is very challenging for most consumers. Are healthcare reviews on social networks statistically valid? An analysis of consumer ratings for New York State hospitals on Yelp, the social network, were positively correlated to objective scores of hospital quality, according to the research published in Yelp for Health: Using the Wisdom of Crowds to

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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 Pharmacy as Herbalist – An Italian Prescription

CNN called it, “the ancient perfume store you never heard of,” but the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella had its literal roots in medicinal herbs. With scents wafting onto a 13th century Florence piazza, the Farmacia now operates as a pharmacy storefront for homeopathic and herbal supplements, along with perfumes and home scents. A visit to the pharmacy today is a journey into medicinal time-travel, back to the year 1221. I spent time in the pharmacy today to learn about the literal roots of the shop in medicinal herbs cultivated in a monastery garden and reformulated by monks into

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Slow Food As Medicine: Eating In Italian

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Finding Health in Consumer Goods

People want to live healthier lives, and consumer good companies are responding to these demands to keep and gain market share and profit margins. Consumer product firms reformulated over 180,000 consumer products in 2016 for in response to consumers’ health and wellness wishes, based on data collected by Deloitte for The Consumer Goods Forum project (CGF) and published in The CGF Health & Wellness Progress Report. The CGF is an industry network of some 400 consumer goods, retail, and service companies supporting the global adoption of standards and practices. This Report focused on the CGF members’ progress toward health and wellness

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The Fall of the TrumpCare is Retail Health’s Gain in 2017

The non-vote for and withdrawal of The American Health Care Act on March 24, 2017, was a win for the retail health market, at least in the short-run. Before the vote, there had been some pronouncements that the passage of the AHCA would have been a boon to retail health. Here’s one story stating that, “A boom in medical tourism to Mexico predicted if Obamacare ends.” Another article asserts, “Why the American Health Care Act Works for Retailers,” a public policy statement from the National Retail Federation (NRF). But NRF, please don’t fret. Retail health is consumer-driven and will persist beyond the

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Medical Bill Toxicity: 53% of Americans Say A Big Bill Is As Bad As A Serious Diagnosis

3 in 4 Americans’ health care costs have risen in the past few years. Two-thirds of Americans want to lower their costs, but don’t know how to do that. A survey from Amino released this week, conducted by Ipsos, has found that one in five people could not afford to pay an unexpected medical bill without taking on debt, and another 18% of Americans could only afford up to $100 if presented with an unexpected medical bill. This medical debt side effect more likely impacts women versus men, the less affluent, the unmarried, and those with no college degree. While

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You Are The Expert of Your Own Health: adidas and The Future of Fit

The future of wellness combines: Connected (you) Social IRL (in-real-life) Banishing bad (de-tabooing what’s traditionally seen as “bad”) Humanizing data, and The end of experts. These insights come from adidas, whose team developed a forecast of the future of fit, announced at the 2017 South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin this weekend. I had the honor of participating in this forecast and shepherding the SXSW panel on The End of Experts: Crowdsourcing Your Wellness at the adidas meet-up held over the weekend. The future of fit and wellness is Connected, because we are growing to understand that balancing many elements in our daily

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What’s the Future Of Fit? Join adidas At #SXSW17

The truest form of health reform and consumer-directed health care isn’t in a high-deductible health plan or a health savings account, and it doesn’t come out of Washington DC or your employer’s health benefits office. It comes from you in the form of self-care and DIY healthcare. In this case, think “inspired by sport, powered by you.” I’ll be participating on a panel at this weekend’s South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, along with three wellness innovators: Nick Buettner of the Blue Zones project, Mary Liz McCurdy of Google, and John Wilbanks from Sage Bionetworks. Together, our quartet will brainstorm the

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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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Stress Is A Social Determinant of Health – Money and Politics Top the List in 2017

The American Psychological Association reports that Americans are experiencing greater levels of stress in 2017 for the first time since initiating the Stress in America Survey ten years ago in 2007. This is a statistically significant finding, APA calculated. The member psychologists of the American Psychological Association (APA) began to report that patients were coming to appointments increasingly anxious about the 2016 Presidential election. So the APA polled U.S. adults on politics for the first time in ten years of conducting the Stress in America survey. Two-thirds of Americans are stressed and/or anxious about the future of the nation, and

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Healthcare and the Autonomous Car: Setting the Stage for HIMSS17

The autonomous car is a metaphor for healthcare: that’s how my first interview kicking off the  HIMSS marathon began. The annual 2017 HIMSS conference isn’t your father’s or mother’s HIMSS of ten years ago, or even the HIMSS of 2010 — the year that financial incentives for EHR adoption began to stream from the HITECH Act of 2009, motivating thousands of healthcare providers to acquire and meaningfully use digital health records systems. Then, the HIMSS conference floor was abuzz with EHR frenzy. This week, over 43,000 people working at the intersection of healthcare and technology have converged in Orlando, Florida, for

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Digital Technology Is A Bridge To Healthcare Consumers: A HIMSS Preface

  “Digital technology can provide a bridge to the healthcare system via sensors, tools, and trackers for people who are living their lives each day,” I explained to the social media team at Philips, which is morphing as an organization to being all digital health, all-the-time. (Here’s what I learned about Philips and digital health in January 2017 after meeting with Jeroen Tas at the CES in Vegas). Here’s the larger discussion, shared with several of my fellow members of the HIMSS Social Media Ambassador family. I’ll be meeting with Philips’ leadership at HIMSS, the annual health IT conference that

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How Amazon Has Primed Healthcare Consumers

We are all Amazon Prime primed as consumers now. So it should not surprise healthcare providers, plans and suppliers that consumers expect just-in-time convenience for their healthcare, Accenture has found. Mind the gap: 8 in 10 U.S. patients would welcome some aspect of virtual healthcare, but only 1 in 5 providers is meeting that need. The consumer demand for virtual care is palpable for: Tracking biometrics, among 77% of consumers (say, for measuring blood pressure or blood glucose for people managing diabetes) Following up appointments, for 76% of people after seeing a doctor or being discharged from hospital Receiving reminders

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Patients Anxiously Prep to Be Healthcare Consumers, Alegeus Finds

Healthcare consumers are in a “state of denial,” according to research conducted for Alegeus, the consumer health benefits company. Overall, 3 in 4 consumers feel fear when it comes to their healthcare finances: most people worry about being hit with unexpected healthcare costs they can’t afford, and nearly half fear they won’t be able to afford their family’s healthcare needs. The wordle illustrates consumers’ mixed feelings about healthcare: while people feel frustrated, overwhelmed, powerless, confused and skeptical about healthcare in America, there are some emerging adjectives hinting at growing consumer health muscle-building: optimistic, hopeful, supported, engaged, accountable. Still, denial and

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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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Doctors See Benefits in Patient Engagement Via Health IT

A special report on patient engagement and digital technology was published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Based on a survey of doctors and healthcare executives, the research found that clinicians and managers welcome the opportunity to use digital tech — when it makes financial sense. That conclusion inspired the title of the article, Patient Engagement Survey: Technology Tools Gain Support – But Cost Is a Hurdle. NEJM polled 595 members of the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council, which included healthcare executives and clinicians who deliver healthcare. Here is NEJM’s scenario on patient-engaging health IT, a Holy Grail of sorts:

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