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Loving Wegmans and Amazon, Hating on the US Government: the Axios Harris Poll 100 in 2019

Americans love grocery stores, responsible retailers, technology and Amazon, Axios and Harris Poll found in this year’s top 100 visible company poll. The bottom five of the 100 include a big bank that ripped off consumers, a bankrupt retailer, a Big Tobacco company, and two organizations led by President Trump: The Trump Organization (#98) and the U.S. Government (#100). The summary points to five key findings in the report: The U.S. Government is the worst “company” in America according to “The Citizens of America,” in the words of Axios and Harris Poll. Americans have acquired “prime” tastes and expectations through

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Digital Transformation Is The New Mantra But Can’t Happen Without Access To Connectivity

As more of our “things” get digitally connected, there’s an unanswered question about how our connected lives impact human life and health. A new report from the OECD asks and answers: How’s Life in the Digital Age? Opportunities and Risks of the Digital Transformation for People’s Well-being. This research is part of OECD’s ongoing series asking the Big Question, “How’s Life?” A prevailing current mantra in work and daily living is “digital transformation.” The OECD broadly defined the phrase in their 2017 paper on the topic as follows: Mobility, cloud computing, the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big

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Consumers Expand Their Definition of Well-Being to Include Food-As-Medicine

Consumers put food front-and-center when thinking about their health. Viewing food-as-medicine is going mainstream for health consumers, who look beyond the “medicine” in that phrase toward a broader concept of personal well-being. This is the theme of a new report from the FMI Foundation called The Power of Health and Well-Being in Food Retail. The report’s insights are based on surveys FMI has conducted over the past two years, as the Foundation has observed that consumers broadening their definition of health to include emotional health, energy levels, and sleep quality. The consumer-as-medical-bill-payor is now looking at foods with health benefits, first

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Kohl’s and the Rebranded Weight Watchers in Retail Health

For the past two holiday shopping seasons in 2017 and 2018, I’d noticed pre-print ads in my local Sunday newspaper from Kohl’s, the value-priced retailer, featuring wearable technology for health. There were devices branded Fitbit on the front page of Black Friday’s 2018 ad, shown here, with other tech brands promoted inside the pages. These ads were bundled in my newspaper along with ones from Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and other retailers featuring the same or similar wearable health-tech. This week, Kohl’s announced a collaboration with WW, the newly-rebranded Weight Watchers, for the retailer to bring a WW “salon” space

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Calling Out Health Equity on Martin Luther King Day 2019

On this weekend as we appreciate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I post a photo of him in my hometown of Detroit in 1963, giving a preliminary version of the “I Have a Dream” speech he would deliver two months later in Washington, DC. Wisdom from the speech: “But now more than ever before, America is forced to grapple with this problem, for the shape of the world today does not afford us the luxury of an anemic democracy. The price that this nation must pay for the continued oppression and exploitation of the Negro or any other

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A Smarter Home for Healthy Living at CES 2019….and a nod to Microsoft

Health begins at home. I found evidence for that, beyond my own N of 1 understanding, in a research article published in the UK in 2000 by Lyn Harrison and Frances Heywood. Lyn and Frances tested three assumptions that they believed linked housing and health: that housing contributes to health; that housing is not routinely included in health or social planning;’ and that the potential contribution of primary care is wasted. Their conclusion: that the housing-health link was not receiving the recognition that connection needs. Nearly two decades later, that housing-health link still isn’t universally embraced by health care stakeholders. But

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What #CES2019 5 Tech Trends to Watch Mean for Health/Care

As #CES2019 kicks off in Las Vegas with today’s first Media Day, the Consumer Technology Association presented its forecast on the 5 Technology Trends to Watch in 2019 — and they all play into health, wellness, and medical care. The five trends are: Artificial Intelligence on the Rise Envisioning the Smart Home of the Future Digital Health Tech Empowers Patients Esports and Sports Technology, and Smart Cities Promote Resilience. Here are how these five mega-trends can bolster our health and healthcare products and services over the next decade. AI is indeed on-the-rise in healthcare: as I have begun planning my agenda for

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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

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While National Health Care Spending Growth Slowed in 2017, One Stakeholder’s Financial Burden Grew: The Consumer’s

National health care spending growth slowed in 2017 to the post-recession rate of 3.9%, down from 4.8% in 2016. Per person, spending on health care grew 3.2% to $10,739 in 2017, and the share of GDP spent on medical care held steady at 17.9%. Healthcare spending in America is a $3.5 trillion micro-economy…roughly the size of the entire GDP of Germany, and about $1 trillion greater than the entire economy of France. These annual numbers come out of the annual report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published yesterday in Health Affairs. Underneath these macro-health economic numbers is

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Most Americans Want the Federal Government to Ensure Healthcare for All

Most people in the U.S. believe that the Federal government should ensure that their fellow Americans, a new Gallup Poll found. This sentiment has been relatively stable since 2000 except for two big outlying years: a spike of 69% in 2006, and a low-point in 2003 of 42%. In 2006, Medicare Part D launched, which may have boosted consumers’ faith in Federal healthcare programs. In contrast, in 2013 the Affordable Care Act was in implementation and consumer-adoption mode, accompanied by aggressive anti-“Obamacare” campaigns in mass media. That’s the top lighter green line in the first chart. But while there’s majority support

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Money First, Then Kids: The State of the American Family in 2018

Most American families with children at home are concerned about paying bills on a monthly basis. One in two people have had at least one personal “economic crisis” in the past year, we learn in the American Family Survey 2018, released last week from Deseret News and The Brookings Institution. The project surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults across the general population, fielded online by YouGov. This poll, conducted since 2005, looks at the state of U.S. families through several issue lenses: the state of marriage and family, parents and teenagers, sexual harassment (with 2018 birthing the #MeToo movement), social capital and

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The Ultimate Health Outcome, Mortality, Is Rising in America

How long can people living in the U.S. expect to live? 78.6 years of age, if you were born in 2017. That’s a decline of 0.1 year from 2016. This decline especially impacted baby boys: their life expectancy fell to 76.1 years, while baby girls’ life expectancy stayed even at 81.1 years. That’s the latest data on Mortality in the United States, 2017, soberly brought to you by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Underneath these stark numbers are the specific causes of death: in 2017, more Americans died

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JWT’s Future 100 Tells Us Tomorrow Is All About Health

From culture to travel, food and drink to retail and beauty, health will be baked into consumer goods and experiences in 2019. Welcome to The Future 100: 2019 from The Innovation Group at JWT. In the 100 emerging trends across ten categories, the future is clearly health-driven, according to the tea-leaf readers at JWT.a Health is all over, Culture Tech and innovation Travel and hospitality Brands and marketing Food and drink Beauty Retail Luxury Health (as a category itself) Lifestyle. I’ve mined this report in previous years – you can review my findings from the 2017 report here in the Health

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The Growing State of Diabetes in America on World Diabetes Day 2018

Diabetes is a family issue, and its prevalence is growing in America. November 14, 2018, is World Diabetes Day, and the International Diabetes Federation reminds us that this condition impacts the whole household — not just the person diagnosed with diabetes. Why the family? Because diabetes is one disease that is largely preventable: through eating right, being physically active, and making healthy choices every day. The family is the primary ecosystem for daily living, and this environment can foster an individual’s healthy choices…or not. The IDF reminds us that family members can and should be aware of the signs and

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Physicians Don’t Talk Enough with Patients About Non-Medical Needs

Most patients wish their doctors would have a conversation with them about non-medical issues. The Doctor-Patient Conversation, a survey conducted for the Samueli Foundation by the Harris Poll, examined how patients feel about their health, healthcare, and relationships with physicians. The Samueli Institute, has several missions including integrative health with a focuses on evidence-based practices for healing, wellbeing and resilience. Patients are keen to learn about non-medication alternatives, like food-as-medicine, meditation, and acupuncture. But most doctors base their conversations with patients on purely medical options like lab test results and surgical procedures. The top issues doctors discuss with patients are

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Consumers Want Help With Health: Can Healthcare Providers Supply That Demand?

Among people who have health insurance, managing the costs of their medical care doesn’t rank as a top frustration. Instead, attending to health and wellbeing, staying true to an exercise regime, maintaining good nutrition, and managing stress top U.S. consumers’ frustrations — above managing the costs of care not covered by insurance. And maintaining good mental health and staying on-track with health goals come close to managing uncovered costs, Oliver Wyman’s 2018 consumer survey learned. These and other important health consumer insights are revealed in the firm’s latest report, Waiting for Consumers – The Oliver Wyman 2018 Consumer Survey of US

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Radicalizing Kindness for Health: Learning from Bhutan

“Happiness is within, but not within you alone as it is among us. If we can create happiness in a community, then we will be able to attain happiness as individuals,” observed Saamdu Chetri speaking at the International Psychological Congress last week. Chetri is head of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Centre, which developed the Gross National Happiness Index. The phrase “Gross National Happiness” was first mentioned in 1972 by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in an interview with the Financial Times. King Wangchuck said that, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The GNH

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Financial Stress Is An Epidemic In America, Everyday Health Finds

One in three working-age people in the U.S. have seen a doctor about something stress-related. Stress is a way of American life, based on the findings in The United States of Stress, a survey from Everyday Health. Everyday Health polled 6,700 U.S. adults between 18 and 64 years of age about their perspectives on stress, anxiety, panic, and mental and behavioral health. Among all sources of stress, personal finances rank as the top stressor in the U.S. Over one-half of consumers say financial issues regularly stress them out. Finances, followed by jobs and work issues, worries about the future, and relationships cause

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Food and Cooking for Health: a UK Perspective from Hammersmith & Fulham

Food deserts aren’t just a U.S. phenomenon. They’re found all around the world. This week as I explore social determinants of health and technology solutions in several parts of Europe, I’ve learned more about food access challenges in the UK. These are discussed in a report published this month by the Social Market Foundation asking, What are the barriers to eating healthily in the UK?  The research was supported by Kellogg’s, the food manufacturer. The first table comes from the report, and the topline shows that about 4 in 10 Britons shopped at a cheaper food store in response to high

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Loneliness, Public Policy and AI – Lessons From the UK For the US

There’s a shortage of medical providers in the United Kingdom, a nation where healthcare is guaranteed to all Britons via the most beloved institution in the nation: The National Health Service. The NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary in July this year. The NHS “supply shortage” is a result of financial cuts to both social care and public health. These have negatively impacted older people and care for people at home in Great Britain. This article in the BMJ published earlier this year called for increasing these investments to ensure further erosion of population and public health outcomes, and to prevent

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Koen Kas, the Gardener of Health Tech Delights

The future of healthcare is not about being sick, Prof. Dr. Koen Kas believes. Having spent many years in life sciences in both research and as an entrepreneur, Koen now knows that getting and staying healthy isn’t about just developing medicines and med-tech: optimally, health requires a tincture of delight, Koen advises in his breakthrough, innovative book, Your Guide to Delight. Healthcare must go beyond traditional user-centered design, Koen’s experience has shown, and aspire toward design-to-delight. The concept of “delight” in healthcare, such as we experience in hospitality, grocery stores, and entertainment, is elusive. I’ve observed this, too, in my

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On World Food Day 2018, Imagine A Chef Cooking for Patients

Today, October 16, is World Food Day. At Health Populi and THINK-Health, we celebrate the birthday of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), allied with the United Nations. FAO was founded to address malnutrition and bolster a sustainable, healthy food supply for people. World Food Day 2018 has four objectives: Don’t waste food Produce more food with fewer resources Advocate for #ZeroHunger by 2030, and, Adopt a healthier, more sustainable diet. All four of these pillars play a role in health, but I’ll focus today on the fourth: the role of food as a major social determinant of health. Hunger

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Most U.S. Physicians, Burned Out, Favor A Flavor of Single Payer Health System

Most physicians feel some level of burnout, hassled by electronic health records and lost autonomy. No wonder, then, that a majority of doctors favor some type single payer health system — one-quarter fully single payer, a la Britain’s National Health Service; and another one-third a single payer combined with a private insurance option, discovered in the 2018 Survey of America’s Physicians report on practice patterns & perspectives, published by The Physicians Foundation. Eight in ten physicians are working at full-capacity or are over-extended, the survey found. Furthermore, 62% of doctors are pessimistic about the future of medicine. Physician burnout is a

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When Life and Health Insurance Blur: John Hancock, Behavioral Economics, and Wearable Tech

Most consumers look to every industry sector to help them engage with their health. And those companies include the insurance industry and financial services firms, we found in the 2010 Edelman Health Engagement Barometer. John Hancock, which covers about 10 million consumers across a range of products, is changing their business model for life insurance. Here’s the press release, titled, “John Hancock Leaves Traditional Life Insurance Model Behind to Incentivize Longer, Healthier Lives.” “We fundamentally believe life insurers should care about how long and well their customers live. With this decision, we are proud to become the only U.S. life insurance

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Consumers Changing the Channel on Where They Shop for Health

Consumers who have long purchased over-the-counter medicines, anti-dandruff shampoo, whitening toothpaste, and cosmetics-with-benefits at food, drug and mass merchant retailers are switching to other places to shop for health, new data from AT Kearney and GMDC have found. The two organizations have collaborated to launch a new  benchmarking study into health-beauty-wellness (HBW) sales, launched this weekend at the GMDC HBW Conference in Orlando. Overall, 2017 to 2018 year-on-year, HBW sales were flat-to-no growth, notwithstanding the consumer and influencer buzz around the categories.       This study uncovered some very important trends underneath the macro numbers that tell a story

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Self-Care is Healthcare for Everyday People

Patients are the new healthcare payors, and as such, taking on the role of health consumers. In fact, health and wellness consumers have existed since a person purchased the first toothpaste, aspirin, heating pad, and moisturizing cream at retail. Or consulted with their neighborhood herbalista, homeopathic practitioner, therapeutic masseuse, or skin aesthetician. Today, the health and wellness consumer can DIY all of these things at home through a huge array of products available in pharmacies, supermarkets, Big Box stores, cosmetic superstores, convenience and dollar stores, and other retail channels – increasingly, online (THINK, of course, of Amazon — more on

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Pharmacies Continue to Earn Consumer-Love

Among industries that consumers frequent, one continues to delight people more than most: pharmacies. J.D. Power’s 2018 ratings on U.S. pharmacies finds that consumers do indeed still love their pharmacies after ten years of rating customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order channels. “U.S. consumers love their pharmacies,” J.D. Power asserts in its first study finding. In terms of total points across all pharmacies, Wegmans pharmacy was the overall top-ranked Rx retail channel with a total ranking of 906 out of 1,000 points. J.D. Power evaluated four categories of pharmacy: Brick-and-mortar chain drug stores, ranking Good Neighbor Pharmacy number one.

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Multimorbidity In the US – Obesity As A Key Driver of Health Spending

In the U.S., the growing prevalence of multi-morbidity is contributing to increased mortality and healthcare cost growth in America. Underlying this clinical and economic phenomenon is obesity, which primary care doctors are challenged to deal with as a chronic condition along with typically co-occurring comorbidities of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. The line chart come from a new study into Multimorbidity Trends in United States Adults, 1988-2014, published in the July-August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The authors, affiliated with the West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine, call out that obesity (the pink-red line)

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Wealth is Health and Health, Wealth, Fidelity Knows – with Weight a Major Risk Factor

The two top stressors in American life are jobs and finances. “My weight” and my family’s health follow just behind these across the generations. Total Well-Being, a research report from Fidelity Investments, looks at the inter-connections between health and wealth – the combined impact of physical, mental, and fiscal factors on our lives. The first chart summarizes the study’s findings, including the facts that: One-third of people have less than three months of income in the bank for emergency Absenteeism is 29% greater for people who don’t have sufficient emergency funds saved People who are highly stressed tend not to

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A Breakthrough, Sobering Report on Teens and Young Adults, Digital Health and Social Media Use: Implications for Mental Health

There’s a load of anecdotal data about teens and young adults (TYAs) and their always-on relationship with mobile phones and social networks. There are also hundreds of stories written in both mass media outlets and professional journals on the topic of TYAs and mental health: especially relative to depression and suicidality. In a breakthrough study, Hopelab and the Well Being Trust have sponsored the first deep-dive into the many dimensions of young people, their relationship with social media, and depression in Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S., The report was

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The Social Determinants of Food for Health, Farms, and the Economy

America’s agricultural roots go deep, from the native Patuxet tribe that shared maize with Mayflower settling Pilgrims in southern New England, to biodynamic and organic winemakers in Sonoma County, California, operating today. In 2016, 21.4 million full- and part-time jobs were related to agriculture and food sectors, about 11% of total U.S. employment. Farming is an integral part of a nation’s food system, so the Union of Concerned Scientists developed the 50-State Food System Scorecard to gauge the state of farming and food in the U.S. on several dimensions: diet and health outcomes, farming as an industry and economic engine,

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Shinola Welcomes Immigrants on the 4th of July: A Love Letter from Detroit to the World Via NYC

Lady Liberty beckons to welcome the tired, the weary, and the ambitious to America in this Shinola video, made in my hometown Detroit. May this bring you joy and positive vibes on Independence Day 2018.  

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Obese, Access-Challenged and Self-Rationing: America’s Health Vs Rest-of-World

          The U.S. gets relatively low ROI for its relatively exorbitant spending on healthcare, noted once again in the latest Health at a Glance, the annual OECD report on member nations’ healthcare systems. The report includes U.S. country data asking, “How does the United States compare?” with its sister OECD countries. The answer is, “not well across most population health, access, and mortality measures.” For the Cliff’s Notes/Where’s Waldo top-line of the research, find the two long bars in this chart heading “south” of the OECD average, and one long blue bar going “north.” The northern climbing bar

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It Could Take Five Generations for a Low-Income US Family to Reach Average Income in America

Social mobility in America has a lot of friction: children of wealthier people tend to grow into affluence, and children of low-income parents tend to struggle to move up the income and education ladder, according to A Broken Social Elevator: How to Promote Social Mobility, a new report from the OECD. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studied member nations’ economies, demographics, income and opportunities to gauge each country’s social mobility. Social mobility, the OECD explains, is multi-faceted. It can refer to inter-generational mobility between parents, children, and grandchildren. Alternatively, social mobility can look at intra-generational mobility, over the course

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Pope Francis is a Public Health Advocate

“The world today is mostly deaf,” the Pontiff observes in Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, Wim Wenders’ documentary on this religious leader who likes to quote Dostoevsky, joke about mothers-in-law, and advocate for the sick, the poor, the disenfranchised, and Planet Earth. He is, I realized while watching this film and hearing this man of words, a public health advocate. Throughout the film, we see clips of Pope Francis washing the feet of prisoners in Philadelphia, comforting dying children in a pediatric clinic in central Africa, and speaking out to the U.S. Congress about the dangers of climate

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Re-Tweeting Sanofi’s Tweet: Inclusion Matters for Health, Wellness, and the Body Politic

The communications team at Sanofi, the France-based global pharmaceutical company, quickly responded to a tweet by Roseanne Barr issued this morning about how her use of Ambien was related to her offensive tweet lobbed yesterday on Twitter about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior advisor. Barr’s comment on Twitter late last night was that, “I was ambien tweeting.” Ambien is Sanofi’s prescription drug used by patients to deal with insomnia and sleeplessness. Data provided to the FDA from patients who have used the product demonstrate a variety of side effects including but not limited to nausea, headache, slowed breathing, and amnesia

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The Healthiest Communities Are Built on Education, Good Food, Mindfulness, and the Power of Love

Be the change you wish to see in the world, Gandhi has been attributed as saying. This sentiment was echoed by Lauren Singer as we brainstormed the social determinants of health and the factors that underpin healthy communities. Our Facebook Live session was convened by the Aetna Foundation, which sponsored research on the Healthiest Communities in 2018.  In addition to Lauren, founder of Trash Is For Tossers, Dr. Garth Graham, President of the Aetna Foundation, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA, and I joined the quartet, moderated with panache and sensitivity by Mark J. Ellwood, journalist. Each

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The U.S. is a Nation in Pain – America’s Life Expectancy Fell Again in 2016

American saw the greatest number of deaths from suicide and alcohol- and drug-induced fatalities was recorded in 2016. That statistic of nearly 142,000 equates to deaths from stroke and exceed the number of deaths among Americans who died in all U.S. wars since 1950, according to Pain in the Nation Update from the Well Being Trust and Trust for America’s Health. The line graph soberly illustrates the growing tragic public health epidemic of mortality due to preventable causes, those deaths of despair as Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton have observed in their research into this uniquely all-American phenomenon. While this

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Consumers Shop Food for Health, But Cost Is a Barrier to Healthy Eating

One-third of Americans are following a specific eating pattern, including intermittent fasting, paleo gluten-free, low-carb, Mediterranean diet, and Whole 30, among dozens of other food-styles in vogue in 2018. It’s mainstream now that Americans are shopping food for health, with eyes focused on heart health, weight, energy, diabetes, and brain health, according to the 2018 Food & Health Survey from IFIC, the International Food Industry Council Foundation. But underneath these healthy eating intentions are concerns about the cost of nutritious foods, IFIC reports. And this aspect of home health economics can sub-optimize peoples’ health. Consider the first graph on consumers’

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Having Health Insurance Is a Social Determinant of Health: the implications of growing uninsured in the U.S.

The rolls of the uninsured are growing in America, the latest Gallup-Sharecare Poll indicates. The U.S. uninsurance rate rose to 12.2% by the fourth quarter of 2017, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. 2017 reversed advancements in health insurance coverage increases since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, and for the first time since 2014 no states’ uninsured rates fell. The 17 states with declines in insurance rates were Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Among these, the greatest

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Healthcare Companies’ Reputations Go North While All Other Industries’ Reps Fall; and, A Lesson from Campbell’s Soup

Healthcare has a reputation halo in the eyes of U.S. consumers, who ranked the sector as the only industry whose reputations rose between 2017 and 2018. But consumers separate the pharma industry from healthcare: prescription drug manufacturers’ reputation took the second-largest fall, just behind the airline industry. Pharma and airlines were the lowest-ranked industries, along with telecomms and energy. The Reputation Institute has published its annual 2018 US RepTrak Industry Rankings, finding that all industries but healthcare took negative hits on reputation from 2017 to 2018. The study asks consumers to rate the most reputable companies in their daily lives.

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Food as Medicine Update: Danone Goes B-Corp, Once Upon a Farm Garners Garner, and Livongo Buys Retrofit

As the nation battles an obesity epidemic that adds $$ costs to U.S. national health spending, there are many opportunities to address this impactful social determinant of health to reduce health spending per person and to drive public and individual health. In this post, I examine a few very current events in the food-as-medicine marketspace. Big Food as an industry gets a bad rap, as Big Tobacco and Big Oil have had. In the case of Big Food, the public health critique points to processed foods, those of high sugar content (especially when cleverly marketed to children), and sustainability. But

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The Health of A Nation – Being Healthy In America Depends on Where You Live

In the US, when it comes to life and death, it’s good to live in Hawaii, Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa — the top five states with the greatest life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at birth in 2016. For health and longevity, sorry to see the lowest five ranked states are Washington DC which ranks last, along with Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Alabama. This sober geography-is-health-destiny update was published this week in JAMA, The State of US Health, 1990-2016: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States. The first chart illustrates states down the left

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Livongo and Cambia Allying to Address Chronic Disease Burden and Scale Solutions to Consumers

Chronic diseases are what kill most people in the world. In the U.S., the chronic disease burden takes a massive toll on both public health and mortality, accounting for 7 in 10 deaths in America each year. That personal health toll comes at a high price and proportion of national health expenditures. A new alliance between Livongo and Cambia Health seeks to address that challenge, beginning with diabetes and scaling to other chronic conditions. Livongo has proven out the Livongo for Diabetes program, which has demonstrated positive outcomes in terms of patient satisfaction and cost-savings. The plan with Cambia is

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Sounds Like A John Denver Song: Virginia and Colorado Towns Rank High As Healthy Communities

If it’s true that “your ZIP code is more important than your genetic code,” you’d look for a job in 22046, buy a house there, and plant your roots. You’d find yourself in Falls Church, Virginia, named number one in the Healthiest Communities rankings of 500 U.S. towns. You can see a list of all of the communities here. The project is a collaboration between the Aetna Foundation and U.S. News & World Report, with help from the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) and a team from the National Committee on Vital and Health

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When Buying a Pair of Jeans Competes With Filling a Prescription at CVS in Target

Stories about three fashion brands have me thinking about women and their health economics. Stay with me. Target unveiled its new line of clothing, Universal Thread, which features pieces that are accessible to women who may be dealing with physical limitations or sensory challenges. I first read about Universal Thread on The Mighty website, which is a community of over 1 million people interested in connecting on health and disabilities. As The Mighty described, the brand Universal Thread, “is centered around denim since it is a staple in many women’s wardrobes, but denim can be uncomfortable for many people with disabilities

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Sleepless in America: Prescribing Sleep at CES 2018

Las Vegas is known for glitzy neon lights brightly shining along the strip and casinos without clocks reminding us of the time, stimulating us to stay awake at all hours of day or night. But inside the Sands Convention Center are a couple dozen technologies and connected things designed to put us to sleep, which is a growing digital health category at the annual CES. Form factors for sleep-things at CES 2018 include masks, beds, lights, apps, and even a huggable sleep “robot.” Why is sleep seeing such a huge influx on the consumer tech-supply side? Because there’s growing, mainstream

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Healthy Living in Digital Times at CES 2018

Connecting Life’s Dots, the organization Living in Digital Times partners with CES to deliver conference content during the show. At CES 2018, LIDT is connecting a lot of dots to help make health streamline into daily living. Robin Raskin, founder, kicked off LIDT’s press conference setting the context for how technology is changing lifestyles. Her Holy Grail is to help make tech fun for everybody, inclusive for everybody, and loved by everybody, she enthused. LIDT has been a presence at CES for many years, conceiving the contest the Last Gadget Standing, hosting  tech-fashion shows with robots, and supporting a young innovators

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Searching Las Vegas for Health at CES 2018

While a phrase containing the words “health” and “Las Vegas” may seem a dichotomy, there will be a lot of health-tangent goods and services I’ll be seeking next week at the annual CES. This year, health will be ubiquitous at this huge conference, whose three-letter acronym for “consumer electronics show” typically conjures up images of shiny new things in the guise of automobiles, video games, big TV screens, and drones. At CES 2018, health will go beyond wearable tech and the first phase of fitness that’s been growing at the meeting over the past five years since I began attending

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Health Consumers Face the New Year Concerned About Costs, Security and Caring – Health Populi’s 2018 Forecast

As 2018 approaches, consumers will gather healthy New Year’s Resolutions together. Entering the New Year, most Americans are also dealing with concerns about healthcare costs, cybersecurity, and caring – for physical health, mental stress, and the nation. Healthcare costs continue to be top-of-mind for consumer pocketbook issues. Entrenched frugality is the new consumer ethos. While the economy might be statistically improving, American consumers’ haven’t regained confidence. In 2018, frugality will impact how people look at healthcare costs. 88% of US consumers are likely to consider cost when selecting a healthcare provider, a Conduent survey found. Physicians know this: 81% of

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The Patient as Payor – Consumers and the Government Bear the Largest Share of Healthcare Spending in America

The biggest healthcare spenders in the United States are households and the Federal government, each responsible for paying 28% of the $3.3 trillion spent in 2016. Private business — that is, employers covering healthcare insurance — paid for 20% of healthcare costs in 2016, based on calculations from the CMS Office of the Actuary’s report on 2016 National Health Expenditures. The positive spin on this report is that overall national health spending grew at a slower rate in 2016, at 4.3% after 5.8% growth in 2015. This was due to a decline in the growth rates for the use of

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Six Healthcare News Stories to Keep Hospital CFOs Up At Night

At this moment, the healthcare job I’d least like to have is that of a non-profit hospital Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Five news stories, published in the past 24 hours, tell the tale: First, Moody’s forecast for non-profit hospitals and healthcare in 2018 is negative due to reimbursement and expense pressures. The investors report cited an expected contraction in cash flow, lower reimbursement rates, and rising expense pressures in the midst of rising bad debt. Second, three-quarters of Federally Qualified Health Centers plan to lay off staff given lack of budget allocations resulting from Congressional inaction. Furthermore, if the $3.6

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Consumers Seek Health Engagement Everywhere: the Case for Alcohol and Breweries

More consumers are seeking health-making opportunities everywhere, both within and outside of traditional healthcare touch-points. That includes peoples’ consumption of beer. We learned from the Edelman Health Engagement Barometer that consumers seek to engage for health beyond healthcare organizations – namely, hospitals, providers, over-the-counter medicines, pharma and insurance. What was perhaps the most surprising industry segment consumers called on for personal health engagement was brewing and alcohol. Fully 8 in 10 consumers expect brewing and spirits companies to engage in health. The bar chart shows this finding, arraying beer and liquor producers on par with retail and consumer technology, along

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Engage With Grace and Your Family on Thanksgiving: Have an End-Of-Life Chat at the End-Of-the-Feast

“Thanksgiving.” Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word, first, as “the act of giving thanks.” Second, it’s “a prayer of expressing gratitude.” And, third, the word means a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness. We each have our stories about how a loved one’s life has ended. If we’re lucky, that beloved person had a good death: in sleep, perhaps, or simply of old age with no hospital events or trauma. Then there are the Rest-of-Us who share family stories and experience of long and painful endings, in institutional settings often coupled with costly, so-called “heroic” bit unwanted, futile care. When you’re

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Stress is US: Health Care Is the #1 Stressor in America

Above the economy, trust in government, crime, war, terrorism, and taxes, health care is the top cause of stress in America. For ten years, the American Psychological Association has gauged Americans’ collective mood in their ongoing study, Stress in America. The latest report is The State of Our Nation, published this month, finding that we’re at the “lowest point in our nation’s history” according to 59% of Americans. The 2016 national election in the U.S. raised the stress-stakes, when APA released a stress study we discussed here in Health Populi. The election season was a source of stress for 52%

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A Health Consumer Perspective on CVS+Aetna

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

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In the Post-Weinstein Era, How to Market Health to Women: Philips, Kalenji, and Libresse Getting It Right

“With Mad Men still in charge, ad campaigns miss the mark,” an editorial published this week in the Financial Times asserts. Leave it to a fiscally conservative British publication to be spot-on about a particularly, but not uniquely, American challenge, in this post-Weinstein (Miramax), -Price (Amazon), and today, -Halperin (MSNBC) moment of sexual harassment revelations. In health/care, women are key consumers, buyers and influencers, yet under-represented in the Mad Men demographic of senior advertising executives, as the data-driven FT essay points out. So it’s especially heartening to find this month a few examples of empowering, inspiring ad campaigns getting health/care marketing

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Health (Healthcare, Not So Much) Abounds in Prophet’s Top 50 Brands

U.S. consumers’ most-valued brands include Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Pinterest, Android, Spotify, PIXAR, Disney and Samsung, according to  the 2017 Brand Relevance Index from Prophet. The top 50 are shown in the first chart. On the second chart, I’ve circled in red the brands that have reach into healthcare, health, fitness, and wellness. Arguably, I could have circled every brand in the top 50 because in one way or another, depending on the individual, people find health “everywhere” that’s relevant to them based on their own definitions and value-systems. This is Prophet’s third year conducting this study, and I was

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Four Things We Want in 2017: Financial Health, Relationships, Good Food, and Sleep

THINK: money and love. To find health, working-aged people seek financial stability and good relationships, according to the Consumer Health POV Report from Welltok, meQuilibrium, and Zipongo, featured in their webinar broadcast today. The online consumer survey was conducted among 2,000 full-time working U.S. adults in August 2017, segmented roughly into thirds by Boomers (37%), Gen Xers (32%), and Millennials (31%). Much lower down the priority list for healthy living are managing food, sleep, and stress based on the poll. Feeling stress is universal across most consumers in each of the three generational cohorts, especially related to work and finance.

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Loneliness and Isolation Kill: Health Depends on Purpose

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

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Learning From Adam Niskar – Living Beyond The Wheelchair

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

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Patients and “Their” Medical Records: Crossing the Chasm

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

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

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

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

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

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From Hospitality to Health-pitality to Sportspitality

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

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The Mental Health Risks of Social Media for Young People

As addictions go, social media can be more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol, according to a report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), #StatusOfMind, on social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. With 91% of people age 16-24 using the internet for social networking, that addiction connects to rising levels of anxiety and depression, the Royal Society asserts, recommending some calls to action to address this public health problem head-on. While this report focuses on the population in the United Kingdom (UK), the social media trends are at least as prominent in the US. The calls

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Shopping Food for Health is Mainstream, But Nutrition Confusion is Super-Sized

Americans are overwhelmingly keen to use food for their health, and overwhelmed by the amount of nutrition information they face to make good shopping and eating decisions. Welcome to “food confusion,” a phenomenon gleaned from the 12th Annual Food and Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC). This 12th annual survey from IFIC finds that most Americans take many steps to be healthy. In the past year, the most popular health-steps include drinking more for hydration, making small changes to achieve a healthier diet, consuming smaller portions, eating more fruits and vegetables, and eating more whole grains.

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

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

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

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

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Diet, Surgery and Pharmacy – The Pillars of Healthcare for 500 Years

Healthcare was based on three pillars in 16th century Florence, Italy: diet, surgery, and pharmacy. Five centuries later, not much has changed in Italy or the U.S. But how healthcare gets funded and delivered in the context of these pillars significantly varies between the two countries, and impacts each nation’s health. To put this in context, visiting the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (the Medici’s Laurentian Library) today in Florence was a trip through medical-surgical history, starting in the second half of the 16th century. The design of this magnificent library’s foyer and reading room was initially conceived by Michelangelo. The reading room

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The Pharmacy as Herbalist – An Italian Prescription

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Zip Code Is Your Wellness Address

Geography is destiny, Napoleon is thought to have first said. More recently, the brilliant physician Dr. Abraham Verghese has spoken about “geography as destiny” in his speeches, such as “Two Souls Intertwined,” The Tanner Lecture he delivered at the University of Utah in 2012. Geography is destiny for all of us when it comes to our health and well-being, once again proven by Gallup-Healthways in The State of American Well-Being 2016 Community Well-Being Rankings. The darkest blue circles in the U.S. map indicate the metro areas in the highest-quintile of well-being. The index of well-being is based on five metrics, of consumer self-ranking

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

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

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Images of Health, Vitality and Life at #HIMSS17

The plane has left the Orlando airport, and I’m looking back at the past week at the 2017 annual meeting of HIMSS, the annual health IT conference that has been my pleasure and (foot) pain to attend for the past two+ decades (for real). Walking the exhibition floor, I encountered some new flavors of imaging that went way beyond bits and bytes, data and technology. These images spoke to me of health, vitality, and life. I’m sharing them with you here, with no intention of selling you company products or services but simply sharing some images that speak to these

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Consumers Taking Healthcare Into Own Hands at CES 2017

Consumer electronics (CE) aren’t just big screen TVs, sexy cars, and videogames anymore. Among the fastest-growing segments in CE is digital health, and health-tech will be prominently featured at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas hours after the champagne corks have popped at the start of the new year. On the second day of 2017, I’ll be flying to Las Vegas for several days of consumer technology immersion, learning about connected and smart homes and cars, and shiny new things all devoted to personal health. Welcome to my all-health lens on CES 2017, once referred to as the Consumer Electronics

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Retail Trumps Healthcare in 2017: the Health Populi Forecast for the New Year

Health citizens in America will need to be even more mindful, critical, and engaged healthcare consumers in 2017 based on several factors shaping the market; among these driving forces, the election of Donald Trump for U.S. president, the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act and health insurance, emerging technologies, and peoples’ growing demand for convenience and self-service in daily life. The patient is increasingly the payor in healthcare. Bearing more first-dollar costs through high-deductible health plans and growing out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs and other patient-facing goods and services, we’re seeking greater transparency regarding availability, cost and quality of

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Talk #EndOfLife at the End of the Thanksgiving Meal: Engage With Grace

“Thanksgiving.” Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word, first, as “the act of giving thanks.” Second, it’s “a prayer of expressing gratitude.” And, third, the word means a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness. We each have our stories about how a loved one’s life has ended. If we’re lucky, that beloved person had a good death: in sleep, perhaps, or simply of old age with no hospital events or trauma. Then there are the Rest-of-Us who have the stories of long and painful endings, in institutional settings and costly, futile care. When you’re already in the situation of making tough health

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Self-Care Is the Best Healthcare Reform

The greater a person’s level of health engagement, the better their health outcome will be. Evidence is growing on the return-on-investment for peoples’ health activation and how healthy they are. That ROI is both in survival (mortality) and quality of life (morbidity), as well as hard-dollar savings — personally bending-the-healthcare-cost-curve. But people are more likely to engage in “health” than “healthcare.” We’d rather ingest food-as-medicine than a prescription drug, use walking in a lovely park for exercise, and laugh while we’re learning about how to manage our health insurance benefits. Thus, Campbell’s Soup Company and Hormel are expanding healthy offerings,

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Most Americans Are Trying To Lose Weight: Obesity on the Minds of Americans

60% of Americans are currently trying to lose weight. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when asked, “what’s the most serious health problem in the United States?” Americans say it’s obesity, tied with cancer, and ahead of heart disease and diabetes. Overweight and obesity are top-of-mind for most Americans, according to research conducted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and NORC at the University of Chicago. This research has created two reports which can be accessed at the link. The survey, conducted among 1,509 consumers in August and September 2016, found that Americans’ understanding of

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Stress and Health During #Election2016

The American Psychological Association, which conducts the annual Stress in America survey, has found rising levels of stress during #Election2016. 1 in 2 U.S. adults says the U.S. presidential election is a source of stress, with Democrats and Republicans equally likely to feel this way. So the APA is offering tips on how we can deal with the health impacts of election season stress. These include: Take a digital break and limiting your media consumption, reading or listening to “just enough to stay informed.” Instead, go for a walk and do things you enjoy. Avoid getting into and limit discussions about the

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Most Digital Health Consumers Say They Benefit from Connected Health

Managing stress, weight, mental health, sleep, and heart function are among the top-most desired reasons already-connected health consumers are interested in further connecting their health, according to The 2016 HealthMine Digital Health Report. The most popular tools people use to digitally manage their health deal with fitness and exercise (among 50% of connected health consumers), food and nutrition (for 46%), and weight loss (for 39%). 3 in 4 people who use digital health tools say they have improved their health by connecting to these tools. 57% of digital health users also say going health-digital has lowered their healthcare costs. The survey

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7 Signs of the Retail Health Revolution

There are many signposts in the marketplace pointing the way toward the new retail health/care for consumers. They include: Food and exercise as the new medicine Loneliness as the new smoking as a health risk Prevention as the new sustainability Home as the new long-term care locus Balancing humanity and technology, the analog and the digital, and Retail as a center of the new healthcare ecosystem. Read more about the 7 Signs of the Retail Health Revolution,  published by Drug Store News. This graphic-rich publication was based on a speech I gave at a recent retail health summit convened with healthcare’s

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Broadband – A Social Determinant of Health

The promise of digital, connected health to engage all health citizens cannot be fully realized until people have access to the new social determinant of health: broadband connectivity. The World Health Organization considers social determinants of health inputs like education, safe drinking water, nutritious food, safe neighborhoods for walking, employment and transportation access. Together, these factors bolster personal/individual and public health. See the map of the U.S., and note whee the concentrations of aqua blue are. These are areas that lack broadband access. Telehealth and other digital health tools can get health care to under-served people in under-served geographic areas….where broadband

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Health in America: Improving, But Disparities Need Policy Prescriptions

The bad news: mortality rates haven’t improved much and obesity rates rose in one-third of communities. The good news: public health gains can be made in resource-poor communities with the right health policies, based on research from The Commonwealth Fund, Rising to the Challenge, the Fund’s Scorecard on local health system performance for 2016. The top-line of this benchmark report is that health care in the U.S. has, overall, improved more than it’s declined. Among the big levers driving health care improvement in the past year have been the further expansion of health citizens covered with insurance through the Affordable

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More Patients Morph Into Financially Burdened Health Consumers

Health care payment responsibility continues to shift from employers to employee-patients, More of those patients are morphing into financially burdened health consumers, according to TransUnion, the credit agency and financial risk information company, in the TransUnion Healthcare Report published in June 2016. Patients saw a 13% increase in their health insurance deductible and out-of-pocket (OOP) maximum costs between 2014 and 2015. At the same time, the average base salary in the U.S. grew 3% in 2015, SHRM estimated. Thus, deductibles and OOP costs grew for consumers more than 4 times faster than the average base salary from 2014 to 2015.  In

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Workplace Wellness Goes Holistic, Virgin Pulse Finds

“Work is the second most common source of stress, just behind financial worries,” introduces The Business of Healthy Employees report from Virgin Pulse, the company’s 2016 survey of workplace health priorities published this week. Virgin Pulse collaborated with Workforce magazine, polling 908 employers and 1,818 employees about employer-sponsored health care, workers’ health habits, and wellness benefit trends. Workplace wellness programs are becoming more holistic, integrating a traditional physical wellness focus with mental, social, emotional and financial dimensions for 3 in 4 employers. Wearable technology is playing a growing role in the benefit package and companies’ cultures of health, as well

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Color Me Well – Coloring Books As Rx for Wellness

Coloring books are best sellers in bookstores, craft merchandisers, newspaper stands, and on Amazon. Now, they’re joining the health and wellness world. The market growth of coloring books has been recognized in national media like the Washington Post, who called the phenomenon, “a bright spot in the financial results of publishers and retailers alike.” Nielsen Bookscan estimated that 12 million were sold in 2015, up from 1 million in 2014. Publishers Weekly covered the craze in November 2015. A Forbes column said, “The adult coloring craze continues and there is no end in sight.” Some of the mental health benefits

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Will the Big Box Store Be Your Health Provider?

“Gas ‘N’ Health Care” is one of my most-used cartoons these days as I talk with health/care ecosystem stakeholders about the growing and central role of consumers in health care. You may be surprised to learn that the brilliant cartoonist Michael Maslin created this image back in 1994. That’s 22 years ago. When I first started using this image in my meetings with health care folks, they’d all giggle and think, ‘isn’t that funny?’ Legacy health care players — hospitals, doctors, Pharma, and medical device companies — aren’t laughing at this anymore. At a Costco a 20 minutes’ drive from

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Prescriptions for Food: the New Medicine

Hippocrates is often quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” While some researchers argue that Hippocrates knew the difference between ‘real’ medicine and clinical therapy, there’s no doubt he appreciated the social determinant of health and wellness that food was 1,000 years ago and continues to be today. Taking a page, or prescription note, from the good doctor’s Rx pad, food retailers, healthcare providers, local food banks, and State healthcare programs are working the food-as-medicine connection to bolster public health. One approach to food-as-medicine is promoting the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables — the

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Food As Medicine Update: Kroger, the FDA, and Walmart

There’s growing recognition of the role of food in health, on both the supply side of grocers, food growers and consumer marketers; and, among consumers who are, increasingly, shopping for food with health on their minds. 8 in 10 consumers in the U.S. enter a grocery store thinking about the health attributes of what they’re about to choose from the aisles that are stocked with more gluten-free, GMO-labelled, and organic products, according to the 2015 Deloitte Pantry Study. Our physicians have begun to “prescribe” food, especially as the collective BMI of Americans has reached medically catastrophic levels. See this forecast from

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For Healthcare Costs, Geography is Destiny

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

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Withings Inside: Nokia’s Digital Health Vision

The first health news I read this morning in my Google Alerts was a press release explaining that Nokia planned to acquire Withings for EU170 (about $190mm). As an early adopter and devoted user of the Withings Smart Body Analyzer, I took this news quite personally. “What will Nokia be doing with my beloved Withings?” I asked myself via Twitter early this morning. As if on cue, a public relations pro with whom I’ve been collegial for many years contacted me to see if I’d like to talk with the Founder and CEO of Withings, Cédric Hutchings, and Ramzi Haidamus,

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Money, Stress and Health: The American Worker’s Trifecta

Financial stress impacts health, relationships, and work productivity and attendance for employees in the U.S. It’s the American worker’s trifecta, a way of life for a growing proportion of people in the U.S. PwC’s 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey for 2016 illustrates the reality of fiscally-challenged working women and men that’s a national epidemic. Some of the signs of the financial un-wellness malaise are that, in 2016: 40% of employees find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month 51% of employees consistently carry balances on their credit cards (with a large increase here among Baby Boomers

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Financial Wellness Declines In US, Even As Economy Improves

American workers are feeling financial stress and uncertainty, struggling with health care costs, and seeking support for managing finances. 75% of employees feel financially insecure, with 60% feeling stressed about their financial situation, according to the 2016 Workplace Benefits Report, based on consumer research conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The overall feeling of financial wellness fell between 2013 and 2015. 75% of U.S. workers don’t feel secure (34% “not very secure” and 41% “not at all secure”), with the proportion of workers identifying as “not at all secure” growing from 31% to 41%. Financial wellness was defined for this

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It’s World Health Day: Stay Super, Act Local

April 7 is World Health Day, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has named #diabetes the big public health challenge for 2016. What’s striking about this year’s World Health Day is the “Stay Super” public health ad campaign that WHO has developed featuring figures of super-people. THINK: Superman and Wonderwoman meet Doctors Welby, Kildare, and McDreamy. I’ve included several of the posters in the blog today to show how engaging health messaging works well when it works. The materials can be downloaded at this link. This week also saw the publication of America’s Health Rankings, spotlighting the impact of unhealthy behaviors.

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Good Design Can Drive Trust in Healthcare

“The best healthcare must involve kindness and instill trust,” reads the title of a Huffington Post UK article written by David Haslam, Chair of NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE (an appropriate acronym for the article’s sentiment) is in fact not an institution known for charity or do-goodness, but is the organization that is charged with assessing the cost-effectiveness and -benefit of medical innovations — drugs, devices, procedures and processes. Haslam writes that kindness and trust connote “care, community and friendship.” These factors have a profound impact on health outcomes, Haslam has observed. Trust drives health

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Beauty Meets Pharma in Retail Health – At Coin in Florence

All over the world, people define their health and wellness across many dimensions…physical, mental, financial, and appearance. In Florence, Italy, I happened upon a riff on this last component on “look good, feel good” at the Coin Department store located on Via Del Calzaiuoli in central Firenze. Welcome to Coin’s Health&Beauty Store. The two photos tell a story about health, where we live, work, play, and shop, the mantra for public health focused on the social determinants of health beyond healthcare. Here at Coin, adjacent to the holistic brands of Clarins and other luxury labels, is a pharmacy along with

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For Health, Viva Italia!

La salute prima de tutto! Health is first of all!  I am on holiday with my favorite person in the world, my husband, and we are Italophiles. He comes by that bias genetically, and I through loving him and sharing so many joyful, enchanting experiences in la Bella Italia over our many years of marriage. The day before flying to Italy, Dr. Michael Painter, Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, posted a link on his Facebook page to this wonderful explanation of why Italy ranks as the second-healthiest country in the world, just after Singapore. The rankings

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