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

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

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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

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Dr. Santa Intends to Deliver Consumer Health-Tech for the 2022 Holidays

Even as consumers’ confess a tighter spending economy for 2022 holiday shopping, peoples’ intent to buy wearable tech for health and fitness and other wellness devices appear on gifting lists in the U.S., according to the 29th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).             In general, technology will be a top-selling category for 2022 holiday gift-giving, somewhat tempered by inflation and the increased cost of living that challenge household budgets in the fourth quarter of 2022. Tech spending will be down about 6% in 2022 according to CTA’s

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Wearable Tech for Health Tracking, Online Dating and Banking: Exploring the “Fluidity” of Peoples’ Data Privacy Views

“The security of online data is the top consideration for consumers across many forms of online activities including email, search, social media, banking, shopping and dating”….and using health apps. A new poll from Morning Consult, explained on their website, explains that For Consumers, Data Privacy Has a Fluid Definition.               Those privacy nuances and concerns vary by activity, shown in the first chart here from the study. For online banking, the most important consideration among most consumers (55%) is the privacy and security of their online data. Privacy and security of personal data was

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Consumers’ Trust In Pharmacists As Providers Grows Along with Omnichannel Health Care

What is a “pharmacy” these days? You might have recently walked into a brick-and-mortar retail pharmacy. Or, you might have refilled a prescription to help you manage a chronic condition, online. Or, perhaps, you asked the pharmacist staffing your favorite grocery store Rx counter to give you the latest vaccine to keep COVID-19 variants at-bay. The pharmacy is all these things, and increasingly digital-first, we learn in The Rx Report: A new day in retail pharmacy, a consumer survey from CVS Health.         CVS Health, one of the two largest pharmacies operating in the U.S. in 2021

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The Patient as Prescription Drug Payer – The GoodRx Playbook

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

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

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

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Gallup Reveals Americans’ Views on Industry Are the Lowest Since 2008 – Implications for Healthcare and Pharma

Americans’ positive views of 25 industries in the U.S. have declined in the past year. In their latest look into consumers’ views on business in America, Gallup found that peoples’ ratings on business fell to their lowest ratings overall since 2008.           Peoples’ highest ratings of industry in American occurred in 2017 when nearly 50% of people gave business a very or somewhat positive grade. The year-on-year decline from 2021 find oil and gas at the lowest level of positivity, advertising/PR, legal, the Federal government, and pharma at the bottom of the ratings.      

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Most Consumers Are Health and Wellness Consumers Even in Hard Financial Times, Accenture Finds

Consumers consider health and well-being as an “essential” household spending category based on new research from Accenture.             Accenture polled over 11,000 consumers in 17 countries, considering how people are faring amid “widespread uncertainty and personal financial strains,” in the firm’s words. While two in three consumers feel financially stressed, 4 in 5 intend to grow or hold their personal spending on health and fitness steady in the next year. The first chart graphs data from Accenture’s global survey. In the U.S., more granularly, 26% of consumers intend to increase spending on health and wellness

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

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

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The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S. – A Week-Long Brainstorm, Day 3 of 5 – Apple as “Intelligent Health Guardian”

Apple wants to be your “intelligent guardian for health,” based on a 60-page paper shepherded by Jeff Williams, the company’s Chief Operating Officer.             Published last week, the paper is one of the big signals trumpeted this U.S. summer marked by the BA.5 omicron subvariant of SARS-CoV-2, inflation pressures on our household budgets, social/political tensions, and hot-hot weather. I’m folding the report into my coverage this week on the Retail Health Battle Royale today, Day 3 of my week-long series updating us on the health/care ecosystem. For the previous two days’ posts, see… Day 1

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The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S. – A Week-Long Brainstorm, Day 2 of 5 – Amazon and One Medical

Today we review the various viewpoints on Amazon’s announced acquisition of One Medical (ONEM, aka 1life Healthcare) which has been a huge story in both health care trade publications, business news, and mainstream media outlets. Welcome to Day 2 of The Retail Health Battle Royale in the U.S., my week-long update of the American retail health/care ecosystem weaving the latest updates from the market and implications and import for health care consumers.       The deal was announced on 21 July, with Amazon striking the price at about $3.9 billion. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley put the deal together,

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

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

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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

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In A Declining Consumer Tech Spending Forecast, Consumer Health Tech Will Grow in 2022: Reading the CTA Tea Leaves

Supply chain challenges, inflation, and plummeting consumer economic sentiment are setting the stage for a decline in consumer electronics revenues for 2022. However, there will be some bright spots of growth for consumer tech spending, for 5G smartphones, smart home applications, gaming, and health technologies, noted in the Consumer Technology Association’s CTA U.S. Consumer Technology One-Year Industry Forecast, 2018-2023.             Underneath the overall industry spend of $503 billion, a 0.2% drop from 2021, CTA expects software, gaming, video and audio streaming spending will grow by 3.5% and hardware to fall by 1.4% this year. With

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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:

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The Higher Cost of Cookouts – Happy, Healthy Independence Day 2022

On this July 4th holiday, Americans aren’t feeling quite so financially independent on Independence Day 2022. The cost of a cookout for your family and friend group of 10 rose over $10 this year, 17% higher than in 2021, based on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual assessment of BBQing Economics on the Fourth of July.             This estimate is based on a market-basket menu that includes cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. Key factors driving up the cost of an All-American cookout include supply chain disruptions (a hangover

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The Legacy of COVID-19 Is Shaping Consumers’ Purchases for Health-At-Home

While inflation and financial stress is depressing consumer demand for many purchases the “legacy of COVID-19” is having lost-lasting impacts on how people see their homes — especially as sites for health and wellness.                 GfK highlights the growing interest in wellbeing and device demand in The State of Consumer Technology and Durables 2002 insights from GfK. In 2021, peoples’ spending on technology and durable goods (like home appliances) grew by 15%, with several categories seeing spectacularly high growth rates — most notably entertainment and health, a category in which core wearables purchases

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Only in America: Medical Debt Is Most Peoples’ Problem, KHN and NPR Report

When high-deductible health plans became part of health insurance design in America, they were lauded as giving patients “more skin in the game” of health care payments. The theory behind consumer-directed care was that patients-as-consumers would shop around for care, morph into rational consumers of medical services just as they would do purchasing autos or washing machines, and shift the cost-curve of American health care ever downward. That skin-in-the-game has been a risk factor for .some patients to postpone care as well as take on medical debt — the strongest predictor of which is dealing with multiple chronic conditions. “The

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We Are Stuck On Band-Aids, Hygiene, and Self-Care: Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands 2022

We are stuck on Band-Aids and hooked on hygiene and self-care according to the Most Trusted Brands 2022 study from Morning Consult.             In 2022, the most trusted brands in the United States were Band-Aid Lysol Clorox UPS CVS Health (pharmacy) VISA Cheerios The Weather Channel Colgate, and Home Depot. These products and companies sustain trends I tracked in Years 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic when several of these were most-trusted, bolstering peoples’ lives living in, working from, and making health at home.             Four key trends underscore

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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

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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

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Food, Cars, and Tech: Here’s How U.S. Consumers Rank Companies’ Reputations – the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll

We’re all about food and cars and our technology, looking at the 2022 Axios Harris Poll 2022 Reputation Rankings published this week.             I’ve curated the logos of the top 30 companies based on the Poll’s survey of 33,096 U.S. adults conducted in March and April 2022. The survey assessed peoples’ awareness of companies that either “excel or falter in society,” according to the study methodology. Here you see the top 30. The COVID-19 pandemic bolstered consumers’ awareness and call-to-action for peoples’ basic needs: food, working-from-home (thus, tech as a determinant of health and wellbeing),

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

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

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

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

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In the New Inflationary Era, Gas and Health Care Costs Top Household Budget Concerns

Inflation and rising prices are the biggest problem facing America, most people told the Kaiser Family Foundation March 2022 Health Tracking Poll. Underpinning that household budget concern are gas and health care costs. Overall, 55% of people in the U.S. pointed to inflation as the top challenge the nation faces (ranging from 46% of Democrats to 70% of Republicans). Second most challenging problem facing the U.S. was Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, noted by 18% of people — from 14% of Republicans up to 23% of Democrats. The COVID-19 pandemic has fallen far down Americans’ concerns list tied third place with

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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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Nutella, Wine, and COVID Tests at the Convenience Store – A Weekend Observation From Brussels

Health/care is everywhere….even at the convenience store. Yesterday afternoon, as I was picking up a bottle of milk for this morning’s coffee, I rushed to the local Carrefour Express in my neighborhood in St. Gilles, Brussels, Belgium. Sidebar: Carrefour Express is not your prototypical U.S.-styled C-store — you can find some fine Prosciutto di San Daniele in the cold case, some tasty Camembert cheese, very good wine, and just-picked tomatoes there. Still, it’s a C-store in that the brick-and-mortar model is a smaller footprint than a full grocery store, and convenient in that it’s a block from my apartment. Imagine

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From Better for Me to Better for “We” — NielsenIQ’s New Consumer Hierarchy of Health

People around the world have made health a “proactive priority,” most important to live a longer, healthier life, to avoid preventable diseases, to protect against disease, and to look and feel healthier, according to NielsenIQ’s latest health and wellness report. As the triangle here illustrates, NielsenIQ has turned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs upside down, shifting protective and physical needs to the top rung and altruistic — the “me-to-we” ethos — at the base. Note the translations of these needs, on the ride, into the “care” flows — moving from urgent care down to self-care, preventive care, innovative care, and selfless

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The CES 2022 Tech Trends to Watch Have Everything To Do With Health/Care

The four top trends to watch for this week at CES 2022 are transportation, space tech, sustainable technology, and digital health, based on Steve Koenig’s annual read-out that kicks off this largest annual conference featuring innovations in consumer electronics. Last night, Steve discussed these trends for media attendees, of which I am one (gratefully) participating in #CES2022 virtually from the hygienic comfort and safety of my home health hub (more on that later in this post). All four of these mega-themes impact health and well-being in some way. “Space Tech?” you  might wonder. Yes. My friend Dorit Donoviel can be

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The 2022 Health Populi TrendCast for Consumers and Health Citizens

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

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3 in 4 Insured Americans Worried About Medical Bills — Especially Women

In the U.S., being covered by health insurance is one of the social determinants of health. Without a health plan, an uninsured person in America is far more likely to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs, and lack access to needed health care (and especially primary care). But even with health insurance coverage, most health-insured people are concerned about medical costs in America, found in a MITRE-Harris Poll on U.S. consumers’ health insurance perspectives published today. “Even those fortunate to have insurance struggle with bills that result from misunderstanding or underestimating costs of treatments and procedures,” Juliette Espinosa of

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How Healthcare Experience Ranks Versus Other Industries (Not So Great)

The coronavirus pandemic put health care at the top of peoples’ minds all over the world. As important as health became to humans at the base of our Hierachies of Needs, in the U.S., health care industries fell to their lowest consumer satisfaction scores in two decades, we learn in the latest evaluation by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index report. I explore consumer-patient experience for hospitals, health plans and ambulatory care compared with other industries in the November 2021 Medecision Liberation blog, calling out the importance of two key factors that drove peoples’ positive perceptions of brands and products in

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Health Plan Consumer Experience Scores Reflect Peoples’ Digital Transformation – ACSI Speaks

In the U.S., peoples’ expectations of their health care experience is melding with their best retail experience — and that’s taken a turn toward their digital and ecommerce life-flows. The American Customer Satisfaction Index Insurance and Health Care Study 2020-2021 published today, recognizing consumers’ value for the quality of health insurance companies’ mobile apps and reliability of those apps. Those digital health expectations surpass peoples’ benchmarks for accessing primary care doctors and specialty care doctors and hospitals, based on ACSI’s survey conducted among 12,274 customers via email. The study was fielded between October 2020 and September 2021. Year on year,

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What Health Care Can Learn from Chick-fil-A, Clorox, and Chewy – Liberating Health

When we think about “3 C’s” for health care experience leadership, we might turn to Cleveland Clinic, Cigna, and CVS/health. In my latest post for the Medecision Liberation site, I point to a new trio of “C’s” to inform and inspire our patient/consumer/caregiver experience designs: Chick-fil-A, Clorox, and Chewy. Why these three? I explain, “Whether you share enthusiasm for these brands or not, news outlets and industry observers have noted these three organizations have weathered the pandemic well when it comes to improving the consumer experience and increasing customer engagement and satisfaction.”  What health care can learn: These organizations streamlined

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

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

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New Primary Care, Retail and Tech Entrants Motivating Hospitals to Grow Consumer Chops

Rising costs, generational shifts, digital transformation, and fast-growing investments in new health care models and technologies are forcing change in the legacy health care, noted in the State of Consumerism in Healthcare 2021: Regaining Momentum, from Kaufman, Hall & Associates. As the title of Kaufman Hall’s sixth annual report suggests, health care consumers are evolving — even if the traditional healthcare system hasn’t uniformly responded in lock step with more demanding patients. Kaufman Hall analyzed 100 health care organizations in this year’s consumerism survey to assess their readiness to embrace consumer-centric strategies, understand how the industry prioritizes these approaches, evaluate

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Why Is So Much “Patient Experience” Effort Focused on Financial Experience?

Financial Experience (let’s call it FX) is the next big thing in the world of patient experience and health care. Patients, as health consumers, have taken on more of the financial risk for health care payments. The growth of high-deductible health plans as well as people paying more out-of-pocket exposes patients’ wallets in ways that implore the health care industry to serve up a better retail experience for patients. But that just isn’t happening. One of the challenges has been price transparency, which is the central premise of this weekend’s New York Times research-rich article by reporters Sarah Kliff and

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Pondering Prescription Drugs: Pricing Rx and Going Direct-to-Consumer

There is one health care public policy issue that unites U.S. voters across political party: that is the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. With the price of medicines in politicians’ and health citizens’ cross-hairs, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have responded in many ways to the Rx pricing critiques from consumers (via, for example, Consumer Reports/Consumers Union and AARP), hospitals (through the American Hospital Association), and insurance companies (from AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans). The latest poll from the University of Chicago/Harris Public Policy and the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research quantifies the issue cross-party, finding that 74%

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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

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Doctors’ Offices Morph into Bill Collectors As Patients Face Growing Out-Of-Pocket Costs

In the U.S., patients have assumed the role of health care payors with growing co-payments, coinsurance amounts, and deductibles pushing peoples’ out-of-pocket costs up. This has raised the importance of price transparency, which is based on the hypothesis that if patients had access to personally-relevant price/cost information from doctors and hospitals for medical services, and pharmacies and PBMs for prescription drugs, the patient would behave as a consumer and shop around. That hypothesis has not been well proven-out: even though more health care “sellers” on the supply side have begun to post price information for services, patients still haven’t donned

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Pharmacies Garner Retail Health Love in the Pandemic – Update from J.D. Power

When we say the word “pharmacy,” we might picture the Main Street brick-and-mortar chain drugstore that dispenses medicines from behind the counter in the far back of the building, and sweet and salty snacks at the front by the cashier. In fact, “pharmacy” is the jumping off point for the expanding and increasingly beloved retail health ecosystem, J.D. Power found in the company’s latest 2021 U.S. Pharmacy Study. Each year, J.D. Power assesses consumers’ perceptions of pharmacies by category, including those retail chains along with supermarket operated, mass merchants, and mail order channels. This is the 13th year of the

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Dollar General, the Latest Retail Health Destination?

“What if…healthcare happened where we live, work, play, pray and shop, delivering the highest levels of retail experience?” I asked and answered in my book HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. The chapter called “The new retail health” began with that “what if,” and much of the book responded with the explanation of patients evolving toward health consumers and, ultimately, health citizens empowered and owning their health and care. This week, Dollar General announced the hiring of its first Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Albert Wu. With that announcement, America’s largest dollar-store chain makes clear its ambitions to join a

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Digital Inclusion As Upstream Health Investment

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

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

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

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Color Me Healthy – Pantone’s Forecast on Post-Pandemic Well-Being and Design

Post-pandemic, the consumer’s priority purchases are grocery, nesting, and health, according to David Shah, a leading thinker about social and design trends. David presented the latest Pantone forecast on color and society in NewTopia – A Balance of Color Opposites – Color for a Post-COVID World this week. I had the opportunity to attend the session, and want to share the health and wellness-related insights David shared in his fast-paced view on the role of color in bolstering wellbeing and community looking out to 2022/23. For context, Pantone plays a role in your life you might not realize. In health

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

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

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

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

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Health and Getting Outside – What the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 Brands Mean for Health/Care

We want to go outside, drive our cars, shop for groceries, stay and get healthy. These are the key themes coming out of the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 on the most visible brands with high (and low) reputations among U.S. consumers. In the top-ranked “excellent” and “very good” brands numbered 1 through 50, we find five core health care brands that were most visible to U.S. consumers: Moderna ranked #3, Pfizer #7, CVS Health #24, Walgreens #46, and Kaiser Permanente #47. The only pure healthcare brand in the bottom 50 was Johnson & Johnson at #72, between Dollar General

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

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

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How Footwear Became Our Favorite Apparel Item in the Pandemic

Our feet have become an important health focus during the pandemic, as the importance of exercise-as-medicine and mental health helper has looked to walking, running, and biking as good-for-us physical activities. The Mayo Clinic published an informative piece on Feet and the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Cleveland Clinic posted advice on exercising during the pandemic earlier this month with the strong recommendation of walking. So it makes sense that the apparel category whose brand equity grew most between 2020 and 2021 was footwear, announced in the Brand Finance Apparel 50. Each year, Brand Finance evaluates the value of “brands,” as

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Trust-Busted: The Decline of Trust in Technology and What It Means for Health

Trust in the technology industry has crashed to an all-time low based on the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. As Richard Edelman, CEO, concisely asserted, “Tech loses its halo.” The first chart shows the one-year trend on trust across industries through U.S. consumers’ eyes. Most industries lost citizens’ trust between 2020 and 2021, most notably, Technology, dropping the greatest margin at 9 points Retail, falling 7 points, Entertainment. falling 5 points, and, Fashion and automotive declining by 4 points. Several sectors’ trust equity rose in the year, especially healthcare growing by 8 points and food and beverage rose slightly by 2

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How Grocery and Retail Companies Are Delivering Health and Healthcare

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

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The 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

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

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

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

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

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The Top Prophet Brands for 2021 Have Lots of Health Baked In

Consumers favorite brands in 2021 are baked with health, from medical care through to the social determinants that make our wellness and mental health better, based on the 2021 Prophet Brand Relevance Index. The top ten brands in 2021 are Apple (the top brand for the sixth year in a row), Peloton, KitchenAid, Mayo Clinic, LEGO, Costco, Honda, Johns Hopkins Medicine, PlayStation, and Amazon. In this year’s study, Prophet remarked that, “Almost overnight, they’ve [consumers] reconsidered beloved names like Disney, making room for brands that serve them better…As they weather some bleak moments, consumers want brands that will commit to

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Retail Health Gains Consumer Kudos in the Pandemic

The more health consumers use health and wellness services at retail, the greater their satisfaction and brand-love, according to a new report from J.D. Power. J.D. Power found that peoples’ Net Promoter Scores were higher among those folks who used at least one health and wellness service at a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, shown in the first chart. That NPS-delta was 15 points between consumers who used no services (rating an NPS of 55) versus people using at least 2 services (awarding an NPS score of 70). Consumers using more health and wellness services also spent more money at the drug store, a

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The Social Determinants of Prescription Drugs – A View From CoverMyMeds

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

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

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

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Preparing for a Long-COVID Lifestyle in 2021 – A Health-At-Home Focus for CES 2021

In the U.S., the latest read on supply-and-demand for COVID-19 vaccines illustrates a gap between what had been promised for the first phase of vaccine rollout versus the reality of supply chain challenges, cold storage, and 50-state and local fragmentation at the last mile for U.S. health citizens. An op-ed published in yesterday’s Washington Post by Dr. Robert Wachter of UCSF and Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University found these two wise physicians feeling “punched in the face” with the state of coronavirus vaccination in America. As a result, they soberly, pragmatically recommended administering just the first jab of vaccine

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The 2021 Health Populi TrendCast – Health Care, Self-Care, and the Rebirth of Love in Public Health

In numerology, the symbolic meaning behind the number “21” is death and re-birth. In tarot cards, 21 is a promise of fulfillment, triumph, and victory. How apropos that feels right now as we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020 and turn the page for a kinder, gentler, healthier New Year. It would be sinful to enter a New Year as challenging as 2021 promises to be without taking the many lessons of our 2020 pandemic life and pain into account. For health care in America, it is a time to re-build and re-imagine a better, more equitable landscape for

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Consumers Demand Digital Transformation Across Their Health Care Experiences

From appointment scheduling to checking in, payment and clinical encounter follow-up, patients now expect digital experiences across the health care continuum….and really great ones, like they get from Amazon and other platforms that earn high net promoter scores. That is the big message from the 2020 Healthcare Consumer Experience Study published by Cedar, based on the input of 1,502 U.S. adults who paid a medical bill between October 2019 and October 2020. The timing of this study coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. through at least seven months of American patients’ experiences in 2020. Two-thirds

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The Fastest-Growing Brands of 2020 Are All About the Pandemic and Health

Staying home, being clean, staying entertained, eating well, and self-caring for healthcare….these are the major factors underpinning the twenty fastest-growing brands of 2020, based on Morning Consult’s annual look at the topic. Let’s look into these categories by brand, and connect the dots for health, medical care, and well-being… Connectivity as a social determinant of health. Zoom was the fastest-growing brand of the year, with 26% of U.S. consumers saying they would consider purchasing the service in November compared with 11% in January. Zoom morphed from a business meeting platform to a consumer and family-connecting service spiking on holidays like

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How Nurx Is Empowering Women’s Health and Self-Care in the Pandemic Era

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, women have experienced more than the direct physical, clinical impact of COVID-19: beyond “lives,” women’s livelihoods, financial health and emotional well-being have been hard-hit. This is true on both a global basis as well as in the United States. In that context, last week I engaged in a fascinating conversation with Varsha Rao, CEO of Nurx, to discuss the current state of women and health/care in America, and some thoughts about the future. If you’ve had the TV on sometime since March 2020, one of many millions of people in the U.S. spending

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The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Made Patients Less Patient – Insights from Accenture

When it comes to patients, health care providers have been hit hard in two ways in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hit #1 has been the direct negative impact of the coronavirus on health care volumes and patients not utilizing hospitals and doctors’ services, avoiding physical encounters in health care sites Hit #2 has been the negative impact of patient experience for those health consumers who sought health care services during the pandemic — and had a negative response to the encounter. Accenture explored this phenomenon in their latest report, Elevating the Patient Experience to Fuel Growth. In the

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The Pandemic, Amazon, Pharmacy, and the Digital Transformation of Health Consumers

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the U.S., Americans were already Primed for ecommerce — even in health care. The coronavirus accelerated the digital transformation on people as consumers — and consumers as health consumers. Today, Amazon announced the company’s launch of Amazon Pharmacy. Watch for earth-shaking (negative) impacts on the incumbent pharmacies like CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, as well as discount and ecommerce players such as GoodRx. [Sidebar: as of 10 am this morning, the announcement “sunk” the retail pharmacy stocks, according to TheStreet.com]. Some context: this announcement builds on Amazon’s previous major move into pharmacy with its acquisition of

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The COVID-19 Era Has Grown Health Consumer Demand for Virtual Care

Over one-half of Americans would likely use virtual care for their healthcare services, and one in four people would actually prefer a virtual relationship with a primary care physician, according to the fifth annual 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey from UnitedHealthcare. What a difference a pandemic can make in accelerating patients’ adoption of digital health tools. This survey was conducted in mid-September 2020, and so the results demonstrate U.S. health consumers’ growing digital health “muscles” in the form of demand and confidence in using virtual care. One in four people would consider online options as their first-line to evaluating personal health

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Voting for Health in 2020

In the 2018 mid-term elections, U.S. voters were driven to polls with health care on their minds. The key issues for health care voters were costs (for care and prescription drugs) and access (read: protecting pre-existing conditions and expanding Medicaid). Issue #2 for 2018 voters was the economy. In 2020, as voting commences in-person tomorrow on 3rd November, U.S. voters have lives and livelihoods on their minds. It’s the pandemic – our physical lives looming largest in the polls – coupled with our fiscal and financial lives. Health is translating across all definitions for U.S. voters in November 2020: for

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The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Accelerated Our Demand for Wellness – Learning from Ogilvy

Every company is a tech company, strategy consultants asserted over the past decade. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that every company is a health and wellness company now, at least in the eyes of consumers around the world. In The Wellness Gap, the health and wellness team at Ogilvy explores the mindsets of consumers in 14 countries to learn peoples’ perspectives on wellness brands and how COVID-19 has impacted consumers’ priorities. A total of 7,000 interviews were conducted in April 2020, in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America — including 500 interviews in the U.S. The first chart illustrates

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Consumers Connecting for Health for Body, Mind & Spirit – A View from the Consumer Technology Association

In January 2020, before we knew how to spell “coronavirus,” millions of consumers were already “Amazon-Primed” for everyday life-flows and consumer behaviors. The pandemic has accelerated consumer trends already in motion early this year when the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) convened the annual CES 2020 in Las Vegas. I covered the event here in Health Populi, as I have for most of the past decade, highlighting the growth of digital health and, this year, the expanding Internet of Healthy Things called-out by Dr. Joseph Kvedar in 2015. What a difference a public health crisis makes, accelerating digital health beyond fitness

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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

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DIY Health Care and Self-Care Accelerating in the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has spawned many side-effects re-shaping consumers’ everyday lives. Among them, more time at home, DIY life-flows, and financial well-being are driving growth of self-care health care. An article in the latest Drug Store News talks about consumers growing more health-conscious, adopting natural, homeopathic products. “It’s about more than washing your hands,” David Salazar explains. “Fending off illness has become a state of mind for many consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” In feeling dis-empowered in the face of the pandemic – with the first shock of the Great Lockdown and stay-at-home mandates – we’ve taken on more do-it-yourself behaviors, from

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Health Citizenship in America. If Not Now, When?

On February 4th, 2020, in a hospital in northern California, the first known inpatient diagnosed with COVID-19 died. On March 11th, the World Health Organization called the growing prevalence of the coronavirus a “pandemic.” On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died at the hands of police in Minneapolis. This summer, the Dixie Chicks dropped the “Dixie” from their name, and NASCAR cancelled the confederate flag from their tracks. Today, nearly 200,000 Americans have died due to the novel coronavirus. My new book, Health Citizenship: How a virus opened hearts and minds, launched this week. In it, I

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My ABCovid-19 Journal – Day 4 of 5, Letters “P” through “T”

While I’m on holiday this week, restoring and re-setting, I’ve been sharing pages from my ABCovid-19 Journal with readers of Health Populi. I created this journal during the early phase of the pandemic in the U.S., as a form of art therapy, creative outlet, and learning. Today is Day 4 of sharing: we consider the letters “P” through “T,” and what I saw in the early coronavirus era. P is for pandemic This “P” was self-evidence in our collective early COVID-19 lexicon. The “P” word was uttered by the Secretary General of the World Health Organization on March 11, confirming

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We Are All About Hygiene, Groceries, and Personal Care in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pass me the Clorox…tip the UPS driver…love thy grocer. These are our daily life-flows in the Age of COVID-19. Our basic needs are reflected in the new 2020 Axios-Harris Poll, released today. For the past several years, I’ve covered the Harris Poll of companies’ reputation rankings here in Health Populi. Last year, Wegmans, the grocer, ranked #1; Amazon, #2. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. consumers’ basic needs are emerging as health and hygiene, food, and technology, based on the new Axios-Harris Poll on the top 100 companies. This year’s study was conducted in four waves, with the

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From Dr. Fauci to Peloton, Healthcare and Wellness Baked Into Ad Age’s Top 20 Brands for 2020

Advertising Age announced their list of the top 20 brands in 2020 this week. Ad Age’s lens on these was heavily tinted by consumers’ lives coping with the coronavirus pandemic: “The coronavirus has brought new attention to typically boring, decades-old consumer staples, while hastening the rise of digital newcomers that were only just beginning to gain traction pre-pandemic,” Ad Age explains in the introduction to the list of the selected brands. As the editors of the MadMen-and-Women’s most influential industry publication, they explain, “Ad Age chronicles 20 brands that are having a moment.” This moment to them as well as

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The Hair Economy in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Control, Wellness, and Self-Care

The barbershop and beauty salon are important community touch points for health, wellness, and social connection in so many peoples’ lives. In my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen, I feature the black barbershop to introduce a chapter on “The New Retail Health.” In the COVID-19 pandemic, how we’re dealing with hair is a metaphor for personal control, for political statements, for mental health, and for overall well-being. Check out Geoff Coates’ (known as Sadochicken, from Vancouver) take on “how quarantine hairdos are lookin’,” here. Can you see yourself? I can (it’s the “Corona Bangs” style for me,

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How COVID-19 Has Re-Shaped Health Care Delivery So Far

COVID-19 is re-shaping health care in America across many dimensions. In Shifts in Healthcare Demand, Delivery and Care During the COVID-19 Era, IQVIA presents a multi-faceted profile of the early impacts of the pandemic on U.S. health care. In the report, published in April 2020, IQVIA mined the company’s many data bases that track real-time data, including medical claims, flu data, sales data, oncology medical and pharmacy claims, formularies, among other sources. Top-line, IQVIA spotted the following key shifts in U.S. health care since the start of the coronavirus pandemic: Patients’ use of health services Impacts on medicine use, influenced

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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

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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.

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Lockdown Economics for U.S. Health Consumers

The hashtag #StayHome was ushered onto Twitter by 15 U.S. national healthcare leaders in a USA Today editorial yesterday. The op-ed co-authors included Dr. Eric Topol, Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Jordan Shlain, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Andy Slavitt, and other key healthcare opinion leaders. Some states and regions have already mandated that people stay home; at midnight last night, counties in the Bay Area in California instituted this, and there are tightening rules in my area of greater Philadelphia. UBS economist Paul Donovan talked about “Lockdown Economics” in his audio commentary today. Paul’s observations resonated with me as

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Waking Up a Health Consumer in the COVID-19 Era

With President Trump’s somber speech from the Oval Office last night, we wake up on 12th March 2020 to a ban on most travel from Europe to the U.S., recommendations for hygiene, and call to come together in America. His remarks focused largely on an immigration and travel policy versus science, triaging, testing and treatment of the virus itself. Here is a link to the President’s full remarks from the White House website, presented at about 9 pm on 11 March 2020. Over the past week, I’ve culled several studies and resources to divine a profile of the U.S. consumer

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How Coronavirus Is Re-Shaping Consumer Behavior, From the Amusement Park to the Voting Booth

The coronavirus has shaken U.S. consumer confidence, both in terms of financial markets and personal health risks. COVID-19 is re-shaping peoples’ behavior and daily choices, from using public transit to choosing where to shop, based on Morning Consult’s National Tracking Poll #200276 conducted February 28-March 1, 2020. Morning Consult surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults, finding that 3 in 4 Americans were concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. The first chart from the survey shows various consumer activities by peoples’ likelihood of choosing to do them. Clearly, our daily life-flows outside of our homes have been impacted by our perceived risks of the coronavirus:

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Outpatient is the New Inpatient – The Future of Hospitals in America

Outpatient revenue is crossing the curve of inpatient income. This is the new reality for U.S. hospitals and why I’ve titled this post, “outpatient is the new inpatient,” a future paradigm for U.S. hospitals This realization is informed by data in a new report from Deloitte, Where have the many hospital inpatient gone? The line chart illustrates Deloitte’s top and bottom line: “The shift toward outpatient is happening and will likely have a tremendous impact on operations, business models, staffing, and capital. Health systems should prepare for the future today and start thinking not only about how to manage their

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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

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Consumers Seek Benefits From Food, a Personal Social Determinant of Health

As consumers in the U.S. wrestle with accessing and paying for medical benefits, there’s another sort of health benefit people increasingly understand, embrace, and consume: food-as-medicine. More people are taking on the role of health consumers as they spend more out-of-pocket on medical care and insurance, and seeking food to bolster their health is part of this behavior change. One in four Americans seek health benefits from food, those who don’t still seek the opportunity to use food for weight loss goals, heart health and energy boosting, according to the 2019 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information

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Out-of-Pocket and Prescription Drug Costs – Connecting Digital Health Dots at CES 2020

The top two health care concerns facing Americans are out-of-pocket costs and prescriptions drug costs, according to a poll published today in Morning Consult. Apropos to my title of this post, the survey was sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, whose mission is to promote, cross-party affiliations, “health, security and opportunity for all Americans.” Health care is the top issue driving voters’ choices in the 2020 elections for most Americans. The economy follows second with 44% of voters, then immigration with 33% of Americans keen on the issue. For overall healthcare reform, the plurality of Americans prefer improving the current system

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The Internet of Teeth – The Growth of Oral Health at CES 2020

The presence of health and medicine is growing at CES, the annual conference of all-things-tech for consumers. At this week’s Show in Las Vegas, we see that the Internet of Healthy Things (a phrase coined by Dr. Joe Kvedar) has taken hold and gone mainstream in remote health monitoring, wearable tech, and heart rate tracking which is now embedded (and expected by health-seeking consumers) in wristbands. An expanding category in the Internet of Healthy Things is oral care. Let’s call this the Internet of Teeth, yet another riff on “IoT.” Of course, oral health goes well beyond teeth and toothbrushes.

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What HealthyThinker Is Thinking About Health at CES 2020

Next week, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) will convene CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, where over 180,000 tech-minded people from around the world will convene to kick the tires on new TVs, games, smart home devices, 5G connections, 3-D printing, drones, and to be sure, digital health innovations. At #CES2020, exhibitors in the health/care ecosystem will go well beyond wearable devices for tracking steps and heart rate. I’ll be meeting with wearable tech innovators along with consumer electronics companies and retailers. I’ve also scheduled get-togethers with pharma and life science folks, health plan people, and execs from consumer health companies.

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Food As Medicine: Grocery Stores Expand as Health Destinations While the Federal Government Cuts Food Stamps

There’s something like cognitive dissonance as I prepare my 2020 Health Populi TrendCast of what to expect in the health/care ecosystem in the new year. One of my key pillars for health-making is food-as-medicine, and that opportunity in this moment resonates in this holiday season with Dickens’ “Best of Times, Worst of Times” context-setting that kicks off Great Expectations. In the “best of times” part of the food+health equation, we recognize the growing role of grocery stores, food-tech and food manufacturers in the health/care landscape. A current example comes from Kroger, partnering with Ascension’s health system in Tennessee, enhancing the organization’s

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Hospitals Suffer Decline in Consumer Satisfaction

While customer satisfaction with health insurance plans slightly increased between 2018 and 2019, patient satisfaction with hospitals fell in all three settings where care is delivered — inpatient, outpatient, and the emergency room, according to the 2018-2019 ACSI Finance, Insurance and Health Care Report. ACSI polls about 300,000 U.S. consumers each year to gauge satisfaction with over 400 companies in 46 industries. For historic trends, you can check out my coverage of the 2014 version of this study here in Health Populi. The 2019 ACSI report bundles finance/banks, insurance (property/casualty, life and health) and hospitals together in one document. Health

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More Evidence of Self-Rationing as Patients Morph into Healthcare Payors

Several new studies reveal that more patients are feeling and living out their role as health care payors as medical spending vies with other household line items. This role of patient-as-the-payor crosses consumers’ ages and demographics, and is heating up health care as the top political issue for the 2020 elections at both Federal and State levels. In research from HealthPocket, 2 in 5 Americans said they needed to reduce other household expenses to be able to afford their monthly insurance premiums. Four in ten consumers said their monthly health insurance premiums were increasing. One in four people in the

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How a Razor Bolsters Health, Wellness and Love for Caregiving

The market for caregiving is growing and the business community has, finally, begun to pay attention. The Washington Post referred to this market as a “gold rush” to design smart shoes, custom razors and technology for the “over-65 crowd.” Caregiving in the U.S., the seminal report from AARP, estimated that 43,5 million adults in the U.S. had provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the past year, about one in five people being caregivers. Over half of caregivers are women, and are about 49 years of age on average. Caregivers spent over 24 hours a week providing care go

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The New Health/Care is Patient-Led, Retail-Enabled – The GMDC Self-Care Summit

SelfCare is health/care, particularly as patients, everyday people, take on greater responsibility for clinical decisions and paying for medical services. We’re convening today through Sunday in Indianapolis with GMDC, the Global Market Development Center and Retail Tomorrow to brainstorm the current and future prospects for SelfCare, health and wellness in the hands, hearts, and homes of consumers. To bolster the message and engage with industry stakeholders, GMDC collaborated with the Hamacher Resource Group to develop a SelfCare Roadmap, an interactive tool that provides insights into twelve conditions where consumers typically looking to DIY their health using over-the-counter medicines, supplies and

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Health @ Retail – Prelude to GMDC SelfCare Summit with Updates from Hims & Hers, GoodRx, Sam’s Club and Amazon Care

“We knew millions of people weren’t getting the care they needed — they were either too embarrassed to seek help or felt stuck in a system that was confusing and intimidating. Digital health has the potential to radically change the way people approach their wellness and, since launching in 2017, we’ve outpaced even our own expectations, delivering more than 1 million Hims & Hers products to our customers. In collaboration with highly-qualified doctors and healthcare providers, we’ve built a digital health platform that is changing the way people talk about and receive the care they need.” That’s  a verbatim paragraph

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How Can Patients Be Health Consumers in an Un-Transparent World?

That question in the title of this post is begged in the annual 2019 consumer survey released this week from UnitedHealthcare (UHC). UHC gauges peoples’ views on health care, insurance, and costs in its yearly research. This year, transparency and health literacy challenges top the findings. When the three in ten folks do shop, four in ten people used the internet or mobile apps to do so — a dramatic increase from 2012. Shopping is most commonly done among Millennials, one-half of whom shop for health care services. Of people who have used digital tools for health care shopping, 8

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