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The Cost of Medical Care, Long-Term Care, and Prescription Drugs Top Older Americans’ Health-Related Concerns – With Social Security and Medicare Top of Mind

Among Americans 50 years of age and over, the top health-related concerns are Cost, Cost, and Cost — for medical services, for long-term and home care, and for prescription medications. Quality of care ranks lower as a concern versus the financial aspects of health care in America among people 50 years of age and older, as we learn what’s On Their Minds: Older Adults’ Top Health-Related Concerns from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. AARP sponsors this study, which is published nearly every month of the year on the Michigan Medicine portal.           

 

Health Information Security – My Interview with Richard Kaufmann, CISO of Amedisys – Part 1: Origin Stories, the Security Ecosystem, and the Start Line

“If data is everywhere, how do you protect it?”  This thought has been on my mind well before the Change Healthcare hacks (that’s plural) with which U.S. health care stakeholders are still dealing as this post goes live on the Health Populi blog. It’s a question posed to me in conversation with Richard Kaufmann, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) with Amedisys. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore in depth the many facets of cybersecurity in health care  with Richard – the growing threats, the impact on providers, the state of technology and innovations to manage risks, and his evolving

 

A Springtime Re-Set for Self-Care, From Fitness to Cozy Cardio: Peloton’s Latest Consumer Research

How many people do you know that don’t know their cholesterol or their BMI, their net worth or IQ, their credit score, astrological sign, or ancestry pie-chart? Chances are fewer and fewer as most people have gained access to medical records and lab test results on patient portals, calorie burns on smartwatches, credit scores via monthly credit card payments online, and completing spit tests from that popularly gifted Ancestry DNA test kits received during the holiday season.                       Meet “The Guy Who Didn’t Know His Cholesterol” conceived by Roz Chast,

 

The Economic Contours of the Change Healthcare Cyber Attack: Taking Stock So Far

On February 22, 2024, I went to a CVS Pharmacy-Inside-Target in my community to fill a prescription for benzonatate 200 mg capsules. I had caught a bad case of the flu the week before, and subsequently suffered a very long tail of a cough. That’s TMI for me to write about in the Health Populi blog, but this story has a current-events twist: the pharmacist could not electronically link with my insurance company to transact my payment. He tried a few work-flows, and ended up using a discount card which in the moment worked for us, and I paid the

 

The Women’s Health Gap Is Especially Wide During Her Working Years – Learning from McKinsey, the World Economic Forum, and AARP in Women’s History Month

There’s a gender-health gap that hits women particularly hard when she is of working age — negatively impacting her own physical and financial health, along with that of the community and nation in which she lives.               March being Women’s History Month, we’ve got a treasure-trove of reports to review — including several focusing on health. I’ll dive into two for this post, to focus in on the women’s health gap that’s especially wide during her working years. The reports cover research from the McKinsey Health Institute collaborating with the World Economic Forum on

 

Hospital at Home: Prospects and Challenges, and Learnings from Best Buy Health

With the urgent need to identify more efficient and lower-cost health care delivery models, we look to growing evidence for digital health technologies that support the Hospital at Home (HaH) model, considered in a new review article published in late February in npj Digital Medicine, The hospital at home in the USA: current status and future prospects. Clinicians from Scripps Research and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine collaborated on this work, calling out the relatively fast adoption of HaH programs during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some parts of the world, such as Australia and Norway, “in-person at-home

 

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

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

 

A Tale of Two Houses: House Calls at #CES2024 with Amazon and AARP + Samsung

The growing movement of health care to the home is evident by a growing list of point solutions featured at CES 2024. Digital health has been a fast-growing category of consumer-facing devices at CES for over a decade. But with the growing ubiquity of connectivity, cloud computing, sensors and this year AI “everywhere,” a person’s home as their health-hub is an increasingly practical scenario.               I track many categories of products at CES each year, and this year added into my portfolio the smart kitchen and smart bathroom. We’ve had components of these two

 

What to Expect For Health/Care at CES 2024

Not known for its salubrious qualities, Las Vegas will nonetheless be a locus for health, medical care, and well-being inspiration next week when the Consumer Technology Association convenes the annual CES featuring innovations in consumer technology.               Ten years ago here in Health Populi, I wrote about New Year’s Resolutions for Health and the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. Then, one-third of consumers were keen to buy health tracking technology but most of those people were healthy, CTA’s research found. I talked about the “battle of the (wrist)bands” witnessed at CES 2013, and spotted the

 

An Antidote to Loneliness – Amazon’s 2023 Holiday Ad-Video Is A Lesson in Social Health, Aging and Love

To complement today’s sobering Health Populi post discussing Accenture’s 2024 Life Trends Study — an outlook for a decade of “deconstruction” based on technology and other trends in the ether — I share with you Amazon’s ad for this holiday season gift-giving motivation. The agency responsible for the campaign, Hungry Man and director Wayne McClammy, weave together a beautiful plotline of friendship, the Beatles’ In My Life, and a time-traveling image that captivated me. The evidence base on loneliness and aging is deep and quantifiable: loneliness can kill like a daily inhalation of a pack of cigarettes. It is up

 

“My Doctor’s Office” Should Accept Wearable Tech Health Data, Most Patients Say

“Do personal health trackers belong in the doctor’s office?” Software Advice wondered. “Yes,” the company’s latest consumer survey found, details of which are discussed in a report published on their website. Unique to this study is the patient sample polled: Software Advice surveyed 876 patients in September 2023 to gauge their perspectives on wearable tech and health. Note that the patient sample was limited to consumers who had seen a health care provider in the past two years and who also owned and used a personal wearable health device such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit. Thus, the responses shared

 

Because of Winn-Dixie, Will ALDI Expand Its Healthcare Footprint? Not Likely Through Pharmacy….

This week ALDI, the global food discount group, announced they would acquire Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket stores.           In response to the deal, Supermarket News said that ALDI “is shaking up the grocery sector with its acquisition” of the Winn-Dixie chain. That statement was focused on the overall food chain landscape, where Winn-Dixie has played a significant role in the traditional brick-and-mortar grocery business. ALDI has generally served a value-oriented segment of consumers, which industry analyst have categorized as a separate food channel based on consumer segmentation. In addition to the overall “shaking up” of the

 

The Doctor Will See You Now…At Home? The AMA Launches a Health at Home Framework

An aging U.S. population with a preference for growing older at home — and a fiscally challenging health care financing outlook — are setting the demographic and financial table for the shift of medical care to peoples’ homes discussed in The State of Health at Home Models: Key Considerations and Opportunities, published by the American Medical Association (AMA).             Note that this framework has been developed by the AMA, the largest professional organization of doctors. While moving health care to the home will involve quite different workflows and disruptions to current general medical practice, it

 

Aging and the New Home Health, Tech-Enabled – Learning from Nature

“Digital technologies offer tremendous potential for shifting from traditional medical routines to remote medicine,” with the role of wearables playing a growing role in the new home care for healthy aging. But what are the challenges of deploying this promising tech with older people keen to be independent at home? We learn a lot about prospects and challenges in Digital health for aging populations, a Perspective report in Nature Medicine‘s July 2023 issue.                   An experienced team affiliated with the University of California San Diego shares their insights in this essay, which

 

Medical Debt: “The Debt of Necessity” – A Current U.S. Picture from the CFPB

On April 11, 2023, three of the largest U.S. consumer credit rating companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — planned to remove medical bill collections that were under $500 from consumers’ credit reports. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) calculated that these medical bill “erasures” under $500 impacted nearly 23 million consumers and eliminated medical collections totally for 15.6 million people in the U.S. according to CFPB’s recently-published Data Point report. For some context, it’s useful to know that the CFPB was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress and signed

 

Getting Health Care at a Retail Pharmacy vs a Retail Store: Consumers May Be Favoring the Pharmacist Versus the Retailer

Not all “retail health” sites are created equal, U.S. consumers seem to be saying in a new study from Wolters Kluwer Health, the company’s second Pharmacy Next: Consumer Care and Cost Trends survey. Specifically, consumers have begun to differentiate between health care delivered at a retail pharmacy versus care offered at a retail store — such as Target or Walmart (both named as sites that offer “health clinics in department stores” in the study press release). While 58% of Americans were likely to visit a local pharmacy as a “first step” when faced with a non-emergency medical situation and 79%

 

Health Systems Must Move “Beyond the Walls” to Support Consumers’ Well-Being

Hospitals’ and health systems’ core competencies have been serving patients “within the walls” of their organizations and institutions. As health systems continue to evolve value-based services while meeting patients’ consumer-oriented demands for convenience and personalization, digital transformation is required, enabling care “beyond-the-walls.” We learn more about this vision and how to map the journey to getting there in the report  Integrating digital health tools to help improve the whole consumer experience from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and the Scottsdale Institute.             This report is based on detailed interviews with experts in 30 US health

 

Our Homes as HealthQuarters – Finding Health and Well-Being at CES 2023

For over ten years, digital health technology has been a fast-growing area at the annual CES, the largest convention covering consumer electronics in the world.           When the meet-up convenes over 100,000 tech-folk in Las Vegas at the start of 2023, we’ll see even more health and self-care tools and services at #CES23 — along with new-new things displayed in aisles well outside of the physical space on the Las Vegas Convention Center map labeled “digital health” at this year’s CES in the North Hall.         Some context: my company has been a member

 

Telehealth and Spirituality – a View From Florence, Italy

I’m in Florence, Italy, this week, working on Slow Food as medicine and finding myself contemplating spirituality, health and wellbeing as I walk the streets of this grand city of the Renaissance.       Imagine my surprise, yesterday, walking through the city center by the glorious Duomo, the great dome of the cathedral named Santa Maria del Fiore, with the beautiful Baptistry built just across the piazza. You see my initial view approaching the square here, the church and Duomo on the left and the Baptistry on the right.         Now cast your eyes in the

 

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

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

 

Men Work in Retirement for Healthy Aging; Women, for the Money – Transamerica Looks at Retirement in 2022

Due to gender pay gaps, time away from the workforce for raising children and caring for loved ones, women in the U.S. face a risky retirement outlook according to Emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Women’s Health, Money, and Retirement Preparations from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS).               As Transamerica TCRS sums up the top-line, “Societal headwinds are undermining women’s retirement security.” Simply said, by the time a woman is looking to retire, she has saved less than one-half of the money her male counterpart has put away for aging after work-life. The

 

Health Is Social, With More People Using Apps for Physical and Emotional Wellbeing

People who need people aren’t just the luckiest people in the world: they derive greater benefits through monitoring their health via apps that make it easier to make healthy choices. Channeling Barbra Streisand here to call out a key finding in new consumer research from Kantar on Connecting with the Health & Wellness Community.           Kantar polled 10,000 online consumers in ten countries to gain perspectives on health citizens’ physical and emotional health and the role of technology to bolster (or diminish) well-being. The nations surveyed included Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa, Spain,

 

Irrational Exuberance for Hospital-To-Home? Care About the Caregivers, the House, the Fridge.

Home, Sweet Hospital-At-Home?  It depends, I hedge in my latest essay for Medecision.           In our bullish and, on its face, compassionate and cost-rational embrace of the migration of acute care from hospital beds to peoples’ living and bedrooms, there are several guardrails to consider beyond sheer payment and reimbursement calculations. Consider, The caregivers for the folks heading home from hospital The state of the physical home — for safety, comfort, environmental health, and emotional security, and, Food security and nutritional access. On caregiving: I spend extra time detailing research in which Alexandra Drane, founder of

 

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

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

 

The Old Gays Working with Walgreens on TikTok: Breaking Down Stereotypes and Having Fun with Health

How much do I love this media campaign from Walgreens, collaborating with the foursome The Old Gays who have a growing multi-million person fan base on TikTok? How much? A whole lot! Kudos to Walgreens for creating engaging, informative, and fun! content to learn about how people can benefit from using the company’s app ….for, Ordering prescriptions (90-day supply) Receiving delivery same-day 24/7 pharmacy chat on pricing, prescription drug information, and medications. The plotline kicks off with 3 of the 4 quartet (Jessay Martin, Robert Reeves and Mick Peterson) looking for their friend Bill Lyons, who is missing from their

 

Living La Vida Hybrid, for Work, Shopping, Entertainment and Healthcare – Emerging from the Pandemic

With only 1 in 10 people in the U.S. thinking their lives are the same as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, about one-half of Americans believe that remote work, virtual community events, and telehealth should continue “once the pandemic ends.” As of mid-May 2022, most people in the U.S. have resumed activities like socializing with friends and neighbors in person, going to restaurants and bars, traveling, meeting with older relatives face-to-face, and returning to exercising in gyms.                     But a return-to-nearly-normal isn’t a universal phenomenon across all people in America:

 

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

 

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

 

In a Heat Wave (and Heating Up Prices), Ice Cream and Health Top of Mind – McKinsey Update

With temperatures over 90 degrees in Brussels today, In Chez S-Kahn, we’ve got fans running, iced coffee brewing, and ice cream on our minds. Thanks to McKinsey, there’s a new report informing my perspective on the ice cream and yogurt market with a lens on wellness and values.             McKinsey advises us on How to stay cool as competition heats up in ice cream and yogurt. In recessionary and stressful times, consumers often turn to small treats and low-cost luxuries. Ice cream and yogurt fit that bill for many people. But McKinsey notes that people

 

Consumers Intend to Invest in Technology — With Budget and Value in Mind

Consumers continued to invest in and use several technologies that supported self-care at home in 2021, with plans to purchase connected health devices, sports and fitness equipment in the next year.                 But these purchases will be made with greater attention to budget and value consumer mindsets firmly focused on (and stressed by) inflation. The 24th Annual Technology Ownership & Market Potential Study from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) tells us that Americans in 2022 will have to manage challenging economic headwinds, shopping for technology is preparing people for their new normal —

 

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

 

What If Costco Designed the Prescription Drugs Sales Model?

The good news about prescription drugs, in the context of medical spending in the U.S., is that 9 in 10 medicines prescribed are generics. They comprise only 3% of all U.S. healthcare spending.           But there’s bad news about prescription drugs in the context of medical spending in America. U.S. Consumers Overpay for Generic Drugs, a new paper from the Leonard Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics asserts, with recommendations to address the intermediaries who benefit from the way Americans currently pay for medicines. Generics are “an American success story,” the authors call out, bringing

 

Thinking About Telehealth Through the Lens of Real Estate – Listening to JLL

If you made your living in commercial real estate — and especially, working with hospitals’ and health systems’ office space — would the concept of telehealth be freaking you out right now? If you heed the words of JLL’s 2022 Patient Consumer Survey, you’d chill (at least a bit). The tagline on this paper is, “Convenience and choice drive patient decisions as new digital options take hold.” I was particularly keen to dig into this study based on its sponsoring organization: JLL is a real estate services company serving over a dozen vertical markets — including health care, life sciences,

 

Michael Graves and CVS Health – A Match Made in Health Design Heaven

On the Michael Graves Design company’s website, they talk about “Design for All” and “The House and Everything in it.” “Michael Graves Design exists to offer products that create moments of joy in your life.” Prominently featured in the Health section on the homepage are “walking canes reimagined.” The company has unveiled its partnership with CVS Health to continue the architect-turned-disability rights advocate’s legacy combining brilliant design with  mainstream retail accessibility and another riff on accessibility: for health care and caregiving. Graves passed away in 2015. He continues to inspire the Michael Graves Design team/family with the mission: “By focusing

 

Only 1 in 4 People Over 50 Use a Mobile Health App – And They Tend to Be Healthier and Wealthier

Just over 1 in 4 people over 50 in the U.S. use at least one mobile health app, and 56% of older people have never used one. Among seven mhealth tools, the most commonly-used is to track exercise. Among older people who do not use health apps, half say it is because of their lack of interest, we learn from the research in Mobile Health App Use Among Older Adults from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, sponsored by AARP. The project is part of Michigan Medicine, U-M’s med school, and directed by the Institute for Healthcare

 

The Wellness Economy in 2022 Finds Health Consumers Moving from Feel-Good Luxury to Personal Survival Tactics

The Future of Wellness in 2022 is, “shifting from a ‘feel-good’ luxury to survivalism as people seek resilience,” based on the Global Wellness Institute’s forecast on this year’s look into self-care and consumer’s spending on health beyond medical care — looking beyond COVID-19. GWI published two research papers this week on The Future of Wellness and The Global Wellness Economy‘s country rankings as of February 2021. I welcomed the opportunity to spend time for a deep dive into the trends and findings with the GWI community yesterday exploring all of the data, listening through my health economics-consumer-technology lens. First, consider

 

Fastest-Growing Brands for 2021 Are About Digital Money, Social Connections and Boomers’ Best Lives

Two pharmaceutical companies bubble up among the 20 fastest-growing brands for 2021 in Morning Consult’s report on the Fastest-Growing Brands of 2021. But the surprise in this year’s top 20 brand rankings was that five of them addressed consumers’ financial flows: Coinbase, AfterPay. Cash App, Mastercard, Chime, and Bitcoin. One year ago when I covered this study, I found  that the fastest-growing brands of 2020 had everything to do with the pandemic. They dealt with home entertainment, digital connectivity, hygiene, and indeed, health (with Pfizer and AstraZeneca the two pharma brands top-of-mind for consumers). In this year’s update, exploring consumers’

 

Support for Drug Price Negotiation Brings Partisans Together in the U.S.

Most U.S. adults across political parties favor allowing the Federal government authority to negotiate for drug prices — even after hearing the arguments against the health policy. Drug price negotiation, say by the Medicare program, is a unifying public policy in the current era of political schisms in America, based on the findings in a special Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll conducted in late September-early October 2021. Overall, 4 in 5 Americans favor allowing the Federal government negotiating power for prescription drug prices, shown in the first chart from the KFF report. By party, nearly all Democrats agree

 

Health Insurance in Aisle 3: Why a Grocery Chain is Working on Medicare

“You can trust us to help you find the right Medicare coverage for you and your lifestyle,” the tagline reads. What kind of organization would be behind this campaign: a healthcare navigator company, an insurance company, or a social services agency? In fact, it’s a grocery store called Hy-Vee, which launched the “Medicare Aisle” to help consumers living in the eight states in which the chain’s 240+ stores operate to sort through the daunting labyrinth of Medicare choices. “Hy-Vee is a trusted leader in the health and wellness space, and as a retail and specialty pharmacy provider, we are deeply

 

Aduhelm and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Potential Medicare Budget-Buster Puts A Blazing Light on Health Care Costs and Innovation

The FDA’s approval of the first therapy to treat Alzheimer’s Disease in over twenty years brought attention to a not-yet-convened debate of U.S. health care costs and spending, innovation, and return-on-the-investment (as well as “for whom” do the returns accrue). In my latest post for Medecision, I explore different angles on the Aduhelm and Alzheimer’s discussion, covering: The macro- and micro-economics of Alzheimer’s and the $56,000 list price for the drug The FDA regulatory process and aftermath U.S. consumers’ bipartisan support for drug price regulation through Medicare negotiation and private/commercial sector adoption Congressional legislation addressing the price of medicines in

 

The Stress of the Caregiver: The Most Over-Utilized, Unpaid Stakeholder in U.S. Healthcare

We’ve long know that “the patient” has been an under-utilized resource in the U.S. healthcare system since Dr. Charles Safran testified with that statement to Congress way back in 2004…an era where bipartisanship for health IT was a real thing. Today, with the insights of Alexandra Drane (Founder of ARCHANGELS) and Dr. Nirav Shah (of Stanford University), we know that caregivers are among the most over-utilized resources in the U.S. healthcare system — overused, over-stressed, under-paid, detailed n How Health Systems Can Care for Caregivers, published in the NEJM Catalyst July 2021 issue. In this study, Drane and Shah analyze

 

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

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

 

Health Care Costs for a Couple in Retirement in the U.S. Reach $300,000

To pay for health care expenses, the average nest-egg required for a couple retiring in the U.S. in 2021 will be $300,000 according to the 20th annual Fidelity Investments Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate. I’ve tracked this survey for over a decade here on Health Populi, and updated the annual chart shown here to reflect a $40,000 increase in retiree costs since 2016. While the rate of increase year-on-year since then has slowed, the $300,000 price-tag for retiree health care costs is a huge number few Americans have saved for. That $300K splits up unequally for an opposite-gender couple (in

 

Health, the Great Unifier (For Most)

As the COVID-19 expanded peoples’ consciousness about infectious disease and opportunities to keep a tricky virus at bay, consumers grew new muscles about public and individual wellness…now, “more invested in achieving it,” according to In Health We Trust, a survey report from Healthline Media. To gauge Americans changing perspectives on personal health, HealthLine conducted surveys among 1,533 U.S. consumers age 18 and over in February 2020 (just about the time the coronavirus pandemic was emerging in the U.S.) and 1,577 consumers in December 2020. One of the subtle shifts in health care consumerism concerns cost, which before the pandemic has

 

The Cost of Healthcare Can Drive Medical Rationing and Crowd Out Other Household Spending

One in five people in the U.S. cannot afford to pay for quality health care — an especially acute challenge for Black and Hispanic Americans, according to a West Health-Gallup poll conducted in March 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. “The cost of healthcare and its potential ramifications continues to serve as a burdensome part of day-to-day life for millions of Americans,” the study summary observed. Furthermore, “These realities can spill over into other health issues, such as delays in diagnoses of new cancer and associated treatments that are due to forgoing needed care,” the researchers expected. The first table

 

The Continued Erosion of Trust in the Age of COVID

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans are still in “survival mode,” according to an update of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, Trust and the Coronavirus in the U.S. Updating the company’s annual Trust Barometer, Edelman conducted a new round of interviews in the U.S. among 2,500 people in early March. [For context, you can read my take on the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer published during the World Economic Forum in January 2021 here in Health Populi].  The first chart shows that two in three people in the U.S. are still in a pandemic mindset, worried about safety and

 

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

 

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

 

The Digital Transformation of Home for Health – Brainstorming with Karsten Russell-Wood of Philips

At the start of CES 2021, I had the opportunity to catch up with Karsten Russell-Wood, Portfolio Marketing Leader, Post Acute & Home, Connected Care at Philips. We brainstormed just as CES 2021 was going to “open,” virtually, for the consumer electronics conference’s first all-virtual meeting. Philips, a longtime major exhibitor at CES, created an entirely new online experience for the CES attendees – a sort of virtual gallery of different exhibits that are accessed from a single point in a “room” with various entry points. One of the company’s key messages for CES 2021 was health care delivered outside

 

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

 

Americans A Year Into the Pandemic – A View from Pew

Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the same percent of Americans say strengthening the U.S. economy and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak should be a top priority for President Biden and Congress to address this year, according to data from the Pew Research Center collected during the second week of January 2021. Two-thirds of people in the U.S. also want government leaders to prioritize improving the employment situation, defending against terrorism, and improving the political system, the study learned. At Americans’ low end of the priority list for the President and Congress are dealing with global trade, improving transportation,

 

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

 

“The virus is the boss” — U.S. lives and livelihoods at the beginning of 2021

“The virus is the boss,” Austan Goolsbee, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, told Stephanie Ruhle this morning on MSNBC. Goolsbee and Jason Furman, former Chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, tag-teamed the U.S. economic outlook following today’s news that the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs — the greatest job loss since April 2020 in the second month of the pandemic. The 2020-21 economic recession is the first time in U.S. history that a downturn had nothing to do with the economy per se. As Uwe Reinhardt, health economist guru, is whispering in my

 

Home Is the Health Hub for Older People – Learning from Laurie Orlov

By April 2020, over one million Medicare members were receiving health care via telemedicine. The graph here shows you the hockey-stick growth for virtual care use by older Americans into the second month of the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 public health crisis up-ended all aspects of daily living in America for people of all ages. For older Americans, avoiding the risk of contracting the tricky virus in public, and especially, in health care settings, became Job 1. The pandemic thus nudged older people toward adopting digital lifestyles for daily life, for shopping, for praying, and indeed, for health care. Laurie

 

The Comforts of Home Drive Demand for Healthcare There

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

 

The COVID Healthcare Consumer – 5 Trends Via The Medecision Liberation Blog

The first six months into the coronavirus pandemic shocked the collective system of U.S. consumers for living, learning, laboring, and loving. I absorbed all kinds of data about consumers in the wake of COVID-19 between March and mid-August 2020, culminating in my book, Health Citizenship: How a virus opened hearts and minds, published in September on Kindle and in print in October. In this little primer, I covered the five trends I woven based on all that data-immersion, following up the question I asked at the end of my previous book, HealthConsuming: when and how would Americans claim their health

 

The Pandemic Has Been a Shock to Our System – Learning from Known

The coronavirus pandemic has been a shock to people across all aspects of everyday living, for older and younger people, for work and school, for entertainment and travel — all impacting our hearts, minds, and wallets. “As the bedrock of daily life was shaken, uncertainty predictably emerged as the prevailing emotion of our time but this universal problem was eliciting a highly differentiated reaction in different people,” Kern Schireson, CEO of Known, observed. His company has conducted a large quantitative and qualitative research program culminating in a first report, The Human Condition 2020: A Shock To The System. Known’s team of

 

Older People Are Digital Immigrants, and Best Buy Health Is Paving the Road for the Journey

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the importance of connectivity, WiFi, broadband, as a social determinant of health and living. Connecting from our homes — now our health hubs, workplaces, schools, entertainment centers, and gyms — is necessary like air and water for survival across daily life flows. Digital connectivity can ameliorate social isolation and anxiety, bolster mental health, and access needed medical care via telehealth channels. As a result of the pandemic, staying connected is more important than ever for older people, Best Buy Health learned in a survey of U.S. adults. Insights from this study have informed the launch

 

Telehealth Use Among Older Americans: Growing Interest, Remaining Concerns

In the Fear of Going Out Era spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients were loath to go to the doctor’s office for medical care, and even less keen on entering a hospital clinic’s doors. This drove health consumers to virtual care platforms in the first months of the public health crisis — including lots of older people who had never used telemedicine or even a mobile health app. In the August 2020 National Poll on Heathy Aging, the University of Michigan research team found a 26% increase in telehealth visits from 2019 to 2020, March to June 2020 year-over-year.

 

Healthy Thinking: Inside the Mind of the COVID-19 Consumer

Stress is up, smoking increasing, drinking more alcohol….Americans are tapping into a variety of coping mechanisms in the coronavirus outbreak, with health on their collective minds. Toluna and Harris Interactive are collaborating on the COVID-19 Barometer, publishing biweekly data on consumers’ views on the coronavirus pandemic. The data here are a snapshot of consumers taken through the Toluna-Harris poll conducted among 1,047 U.S. adults between 9-20 April 2020. The first chart shows various life-flows Americans have adopted in April, all risk factors impacting peoples’ overall health status and mental well-being. There were demographic differences across these factors: more women felt

 

How the Coronavirus and Technology Are Reshaping Home-Work, -Life and -Health

As people conform to the #StayHome lifestyle to #FlattenTheCurve of the coronavirus pandemic, technology is transforming peoples’ home lives for working, playing, and socializing. The Consumer Technology Association has conducted the COVID-19 Impact Study assessing the use of technology at home, exploring U.S. households’ changing behaviors for consuming content, stocking the pantry, engaging with social media, and using online health and fitness tools. This research surveyed 1,004 U.S. adults 18 and over in March 2020 — early in the U.S. pandemic’s national “curve.” U.S. consumers’ top five technology purchases in mid-March 2020 were for smartphones, laptop computers, TVs, and headphones/earbuds.

 

Steps Count: More Steps Are Self-Care Goodness in the COVID-19 Lifestyle

There’s evidence in this week’s JAMA of a dose-response relationship between peoples’ steps and lower mortality. In other words: more steps done daily is statistically significantly associated with death from all causes. Furthermore, step intensity didn’t make a difference in mortality rates, shown in the JAMA-published study, Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults. The publication of this study is incredibly well-timed given the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are in lockdown, #StayHome lifestyles this week, and will be for many weeks to come. Going outside for fresh air

 

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

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

 

Consumers’ Embrace of Digital Health Tech Stalls, and Privacy Concerns Prevail – Accenture’s 2020 Research

Millions of dollars and developers’ time have been invested in conceiving and making digital health tools. Yet with that bullish supply side of digital health,  there was a marked decline in peoples’ use of them in the past two years, found by Accenture in their latest health consumer survey, Digital is Transforming Health, So Why is Consumer Adoption Stalling? Use of mobile apps to track personal health activity fell from nearly 1 in 2 consumers to 1 in 3. Use of wearable tech nearly halved, from 33% to 18%, between 2018 and 2020. Some, but not necessarily a majority, of

 

Job #1 for Next President: Reduce Health Care Costs – Commonwealth Fund & NBC News Poll

Four in five U.S. adults say lowering the cost of health care in America should be high priority for the next American president, according to a poll from The Commonwealth Fund and NBC News. Health care costs continue to be a top issue on American voters’ minds in this 2020 Presidential election year, this survey confirms. The first chart illustrates that lowering health care costs is a priority that crosses political parties. This is true for all flavors of health care costs, including health insurance deductibles and premiums, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, and the cost of long-term care. While

 

The High Cost-of-Thriving and the Evolving Social Contract for Health Care

Millions of Americans have to work 53 weeks to cover a year’s worth of household expenses. Most Americans haven’t saved much for their retirement. Furthermore, the bullish macroeconomic outlook for the U.S. in early 2020 hasn’t translated into individual American’s optimism for their own family budgets. (Sidebar and caveat: yesterday was the fourth day in a row of the U.S. financial markets losing as much as 10% of market cap, so the global economic outlook is being revised downward by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Vanguard, and Morningstar, among other financial market prognosticators. MarketWatch called this week the worst market

 

Health Care Costs Concern Americans Approaching Retirement – Especially Women and Sicker People

Even with the prospect of enrolling in Medicare sooner in a year or two or three, Americans approaching retirement are growing concerned about health care costs, according to a study in JAMA Network Open. The paper, Health Insurance Affordability Concerns and health Care Avoidance Among US Adults Approaching Retirement, explored the perspectives of 1,028 US adults between 50 and 64 years of age between November 2018 and March 2019. The patient survey asked one question addressing two aspects of “health care confidence:” “Please rate your confidence with the following:” Being able to afford the cost of your health insurance nad

 

The Pace of Tech-Adoption Grows Among Older Americans, AARP Finds – But Privacy Concerns May Limit Adoption

One in two people over 50 bought a piece of digital technology in the past year. Three in four people over fifty in America now have a smartphone. One-half of 50+ Americans use a tablet, and 17% own wearable tech. The same percentage of people over 50 own a voice assistant, a market penetration rate which more than doubled between 2017 and 2019, AARP noted in the 2020 Tech and the 50+ Survey published in December 2019. For this research, AARP worked with Ipsos to survey (online) 2,607 people ages 50 and over in June and July 2019. Across all

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Living in Digital Healthcare Times – Kicking off #DigitalHealthCES & #CES2020

Today is Day 1 of two Media Days at #CES2020 in Las Vegas, kicking off this manic week of the Consumer Electronics Show at the Mandalay Bay convention center. For several years, I’ve convened with journalists and industry analysts from around the world for these two days before the “official” opening of CES to hear the latest news from some of the largest tech-focused companies on Earth. Announcements come from across industry sector — from automotive and transportation, telecoms, consumer goods, entertainment, social media, travel, and retail…with platform technologies playing a role including but not limited to AI, AR/VR/XR (the

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Art As Medicine – WHO Weaves the Evidence for Arts’ Role in Improving Health

“What’s the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being?” asks a report from the World Health Organization‘s Europe region team (WHO-Europe). There’s a lot of proof supporting arts-as-medicine, WHO details in this paper, which synthesizes research published in over 3,000 studies. The first chart illustrates the logic model that bridges arts to health in three segments: “Components” of arts programs, including but not limited to cognitive stimulation (e.g., learning a new arts skill such as painting, drawing or journaling), social interaction (e.g., participating in theatre), physical activity (e.g., dance), and evocation of emotion (e.g., listening

 

Most Consumers Are Interested in Using a Voice Assistant for Some Type of Health Care

While 75 million people in the U.S. have a smart speaker at home, only 1 in 13 Americans have used a voice assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant for health care. But over one-half of consumers would like to access a voice assistant for some aspect of their health care, according to a study from Orbita and Voicebot, Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption in Healthcare. The study polled 1,004 U.S. adults 18 and over in September 2019. In 2019, few health care providers have adopted voice assistants into their workflows. The report calls out one big barrier to early adoption especially

 

Making Health Care Better, from the N of 1 to the Public’s Health – Trend-Weaving Medecision Liberation 2019

Health and our health information are deeply personal. Changing health care and inspiring positive health behaviors is hard to do. But we must and we will, a group of inspiring and inspired people who work across the health/care ecosystem affirmed this week in Dallas at the conference of Medecision Liberation 2019. I was engaged at this conference to wear several hats — as a keynote speaker, a sort of “emcee,” and, finally, to trend-weave the many talks and discussions happening throughout the meeting. This post is my synthesis of the summary I delivered live at the end of the conference,

 

Patients Growing Health Consumer Muscles Expect Digital Services

Patients’ experiences with the health care industry fall short of their interactions with other industries — namely online retail, online banking and online travel, a new survey from Cedar, a payments company, learned. Survata conducted the study for Cedar among 1,607 online U.S. consumers age 18 and over in August and September 2019. These study respondents had also visited a doctor or hospital and paid a medical bill in the past year. One-third of these patients had a health care bill go to collections in the past year, according to Cedar’s 2019 U.S. Healthcare Consumer Experience Study. Among those people

 

The Promise of Telehealth for Older People – the U-M National Poll on Healthy Aging

Older people are re-framing their personal images and definitions of aging, from continuing to work past typical retirement age, Skyping and texting with grandchildren, and traveling to destinations well beyond the “snowbird” locales of Florida and Arizona to more active and often charitable/volunteer situations in developing economies. And so, too, are older folks re-imagining how and where their health care services could be delivered and consumed. Most people over 50 years of age are cautious but open to receiving health care virtually via telehealth platforms, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging from my alma mater, the University of Michigan. U-M’s

 

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

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

 

Health Care and Consumers in 2030: A Profile from KPMG

A “one layered delivery network through which patients can move seamlessly as they age and their needs evolve” will be the new health care platform to meet patients’ demands by 2030, according to a forecast from KPMG’s Healthcare and Life Sciences Institute. In Healthcare 2030: The consumer at the center, the KPMG team explores the demographic shifts and market drivers that will challenge the health care industry in the current U.S. delivery and financing system. The lens on that 2030 future is a consumer-centric delivery model that KPMG believes will be a solution to dealing with a demographic divide between

 

Talk to Me About My Health, Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries Tell J.D. Power

Cost is the major reason why Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries switch plans, but people who switch also tend to have lower satisfaction scores based on non-cost factors. Those ratings have a lot to do with information and communication, according to J.D. Power’s 2019 Medicare Advantage Plan Study. The Study explores MA beneficiaries’ views on six factors: Coverage and benefits Provider choice Cost Customer service Information and communication, and Billing and payment. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan garnered the top spot for the fifth year in-a-row. By feature, Kaiser achieved 5 “Power Circles” for all factors except for cost and provider choice,

 

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

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

 

Are Robots Coming to Healthcare? Consumers Say Not-So-Fast

Samsung introduced BotCare, a caring robot, at CES 2019. BotCare is part of the company’s Bixby, an AI platform that supports Samsung’s robotic offerings for environmental health (air), retail, and healthcare. Think: medication reminders and around-the-house services that a human homecare aid might perform, among other medical support tasks. But visions of Rosie-the-Robot serving up healthcare at home is beyond most consumers’ desires at this moment, according to a new survey published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Robotics: Current Landscape & Consumer Perceptions. Most U.S. adults have positive views toward robotics in general, CTA found. There’s optimism for use

 

Across All Political Parties, Likely Voters Over 50 Favor Cutting Prescription Drug Prices

People over 50 in the U.S. that are likely to vote in the 2020 Presidential election are keenly interested in lowering the cost of prescription drugs, according to a survey conducted by AARP in February and March 2019. Most people over 50 take prescription drugs daily; one-third take two or three Rx’s regularly, and one in five older people take six or more prescription medicines regularly. Thus, prescription drugs are part of most older Americans’ daily life-flows and household spending considerations. About two-thirds of older people who are likely to vote say that Rx prices are “unreasonable,” including 67% of

 

What $285,000 Can Buy You in America: Medical Costs for Retirees in 2019

The average 65-year old couple retiring in 2019 will need to have a cash nest-egg of $285,000 to cover health care and medical expenses through retirement years, Fidelity Investments calculated. Fidelity estimates the average retiree will allocate 15% of their annual spending in retirement on medical costs. As if that top-line number isn’t enough to sober one up, there are two more caveats: (1) the $285K figure doesn’t include long-term care, dental services and over-the-counter medicines; and, (2) it’s an after-tax number. So depending on your tax bracket, you have to earn a whole lot more to net the $285,000

 

Loneliness Is A Health Risk, Especially Among Older People

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

 

National Health Spending Will Reach Nearly 20% of U.S. GDP By 2027

National health spending in the U.S. is expected to grow by 5.7% every year from 2020 to 2027, the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forecast in their report, National Health Expenditure Projections, 2018-2927: Economic And Demographic Trends Drive Spending And Enrollment Growth, published yesterday by Health Affairs. For context, note that general price inflation in the U.S. was 1.6% for the 12 months ending January 2019 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth rate for health care costs exceeds every period measured since the high of 7.2% recorded in 1990-2007. The bar chart illustrates the

 

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

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

 

Health Is Social – The Social Determinants of Health at HIMSS19

In the health care world, it is now commonly accepted that genes contribute less than half of the influence on peoples’ health status. Other issues play starring roles in overall well-being, including environmental factors, health care services, and social determinants of health (SDOH). These inputs include education, personal economics (like job security and financial stability), physical built environments (think: transportation access, safe and healthy housing), food and nutrition, and access to health care. At HIMSS17, I gave a talk in a big room about how technology can scale SDOH; we had standing room only, which is not a brag —

 

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

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

 

Here’s Looking at Health at CES 2019

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

 

Sicker Consumers Are More Willing to Share Health Data

People dealing with chronic conditions are keener to share personally-generated data than people that don’t have a chronic disease, Deloitte’s 2018 Survey of U.S> Health Care Consumers learned. This and other insights about the patient journey are published in Inside the patient journey, a report from Deloitte that assesses three key touch points for consumer health engagement. These three patient journey milestones are searching for care, using new channels of care, and tracking and sharing health data, Deloitte maps. What drives people to engage on their patient journeys has a lot  more to do with practical matters of care like convenience,

 

Going Digital for Health Is a New-Normal for Consumers

Using digital health tech is a new normal for U.S. consumers, including Seniors, found in the 2018 digital health consumer survey from Deloitte. The title of the report, “Consumers are on board with virtual health options,” summarizes the bullish outlook for telehealth. That’s the consumer-demand side of the equation. But the tagline begs the supply side question: “Can the health care system deliver?” For a decade or longer, we’ve noted the slow uptake of telehealth and digital health tools among healthcare providers. But the consumer pressures, along with evidence-based self-service options for health – both for “care” and for wellness,

 

Best Buy Bets on AgingTech in the Expanding Retail Health Ecosystem

With the acquisition of GreatCall, a mature player in the aging-tech space, Best Buy is doubling down on consumer health technology@retail. This week at Best Buy. the electronics retailer,  it’s out with CDs and in with technology for aging at home. The company announced that it would buy GreatCall for $800 million. A snippet from the announcement from Best Buy’s press release is shown in the first diagram, noting that GreatCall’s membership is approaching 1 million subscribers who use mobile phones and connected devices, “providing peace of mind to their loved ones.” Beyond the obvious “falling and I can’t get

 

Heart-Love – Omron’s Holy Grail of Blood Pressure Tracking on the Wrist

It’s February 1st, which marks the first of 28 days of American Heart  Month – a time to get real, embrace, learn about, and engage with heart health. Heart disease kills 610,000 people in the U.S. every year, equal to 1 in 4 deaths in America. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Knowing your blood pressure is an important step for managing the risks of heart disease. That hasn’t yet been available to those of us who quantify our steps, weight, sleep, food intake, and other health metrics. In 2017, Hugh Langley

 

What A Duck Can Teach Us at CES 2018

We’re spending more time at CES 2018 calling out the societal and health impacts of technologies, especially for children and under-served people. How surprised and delighted I am to find a positive, enchanting impact at the convergence of kids and tech…from a duck. When I say “duck,” there are a few images that probably swim up in your mind’s eye: Donald, Daisy, Daffy, Howard, Darkwing, and the brand-famous Aflac Duck (who has his own Twitter handle @AflacDuck). It’s this last-named web-footed feathered friend who is a major star here at CES 2018 in the persona of My Special Aflac Duck.

 

Don’t Touch My Entitlements to Pay For Tax Reform, Most Americans Say to Congress

To pay for tax cuts, take money from foreign aid if you must, 1 in 2 Americans say. But do not touch my Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, insist the majority of U.S. adults gauged by the November 2017 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. This month’s survey looks at Americans’ priorities for President Trump and the Congress in light of the GOP tax reforms emerging from Capitol Hill. While reforming taxes is considered a top priority for the President and Congress by 3 in 10 people, two healthcare policy issues are more important to U.S. adults: first, 62% of U.S. adults

 

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

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

 

A Couple Retiring Today Will Need $275,000 For Health Care Expenses

A 65-year-old couple in America, retiring in 2017, will need to have saved $275,000 to cover their health and medical costs in retirement. This represents a $15,000 (5.8%) increase from last year’s number of $260,000, according to the annual retirement healthcare cost study from Fidelity Investments. This number does not include long-term care costs — only medical and health care spending. Here’s a link to my take on last year’s Fidelity healthcare retirement cost study: Health Care Costs in Retirement Will Run $260K If You’re Retiring This Year. Note that the 2016 cost was also $15,000 greater than the retirement healthcare costs calculated

 

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