How Patients Disclose Medical Diagnoses Online

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 7/22/11 on Health Populi

Once upon a time, being diagnosed with the “C” word, cancer, was information that kept people quiet and within the family. Today, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blogs have increasingly become routine settings for discussions regarding the most personal of concerns” — like health care, according to an analysis titled, Seeking Social Solace: How Patients Use Social Media to Disclose Medical Diagnoses Online from Russell Herder, a Minneapolis-based marketing & PR agency.

Stop the Presses! Patient-Centered Care Lowers Costs

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 7/20/11 on Health Populi

Patients who perceive their visit to the doctor was patient-centered, with more communication, receive fewer diagnostic tests and referrals, and yield lower expenses for diagnostic testing. A new study finds that patient-centered care leads to lower spending on health care over one year of care due to fewer specialty care referrals. A contributing factor to lower costs is increased patient participation during the visit, which reduces patients’ anxiety and perceived need for further investigations and referrals. In the milieu of more effective patient-physician communication, physician gets more knowledge about the patient. This brings greater trust between patient and doctor, as described in Patient-Centered Care is Associated with Decreased Health Care Utilization, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine published in July 2011, and penned by Dr. Klea Bertaks and Dr. Rahman Azari.

This is not a new concept: ten years ago, the IOM’s seminal report, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, called for “patient-centeredness.”

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Health is Bliss

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 7/14/11 on Health Populi

In the ever-morphing space between health, wellness and beauty is the latest online portal called Bliss.com. The project was launched by Glam Media, which brings together women-focused brands and social media. Glam boasts a reach of 200 million across all of its online properties, and estimates that Bliss.com will realize an 11 million member community. Its target is “yogis, fitness enthusiasts and health conscious moms,” according to Glam’s website. Bliss Connect is the social networking component on the website for user-generated content.

[In a small-world, two-degrees of separation from my health care world, Glam was in fact inspired by Esther Dyson in 2002.]

With hyperlinks to “eat well,” “get fit,” “mind+spirit,” “head to toe,” and “sanctuary,” this website grabs onto the zeitgeist of Whole Health. Today’s features include “Exercise in Bed,” “Summer Snacks That Won’t Blow Your Calorie Budget,” and “Healthy Now, Healthy Later,” a four-step process to help you sustain good health habits — sponsored by One-A-Day vitamins.

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Retail Health Providers are Expanding the Corporate Wellness Market

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 7/12/11 on Health Populi

U.S. employers are taking workers’ health and vitality more seriously in 2011 and for the future, based on their responses to benefit consultants’ surveys on where companies plan to place health spending in their benefit investment portfolios. Wellness is the new health benefit.

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Health Costs Haunt the US’ Long Term Budget Outlook

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 6/24/11 on Health Populi

“With the aging of the population and growing health care costs, the budget outlook, for both the coming decade and beyond, is daunting,” reports the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in the2001 Long-Term Budget Outlook report. If you read between the lines and into the future scenarios on health spending and budget deficits, it’s clear that as Baby Boomers age, America’s fiscal outlook gets bleaker by the year.

Spending on Medicare, and health care as it’s paid for today, is unsustainable. The pie chart shows that 22% of spending on health was for Medicare in 2009, 17% was allocated to Medicaid and CHIP for children, and 11% of spending was for other public health programs provided by state and local governments, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and workers’ comp.

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DIY Health Care Could Saving Consumers $5 Billion

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 6/21/11 on Health Populi

Health care costs in the U.S. exceeded $2.3 trillion in 2008. That year, there were nearly 1 billion visits to see physicians in offices, millions of which physicians believe were avoidable or unnecessary were patients to engage in more self-management of their health and use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. How much money would be conserved in health spending if those 10% of visits were avoided and managed at home? Over $5 billion worth, according to calculations from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA).

CHPA’s report and survey, Your Health At Hand: Perceptions of over-the-counter medicine in the U.S., details a survey conducted among U.S. adults and physicians exploring their views on DIY health care for patients.

Continue reading “DIY Health Care Could Saving Consumers $5 Billion”

The Implications Of Smartphones and Tablets in Patient Care

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 6/17/11 on Health Populi

Physicians who have adopted smartphones and tablet devices access online resources for health more than less mobile physicians. Furthermore, these “Super Mobile” doctors are using mobile platforms at the point of care.

Physicians adoption and use of mobile platforms in health will continue to grow, according to a survey from Quantia Communications, an online physician community. This poll was taken among 3,798 physician members of QuantiaMD’s community in May 2011. Thus, the sample is taken from the community’s 125,000 physicians who are already digitally-savvy doctors. QuantiaMD calls physicians with both mobile and tablet devices “Super Mobile” physicians.

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Patients Are Losing Patience Over Time and Medical Bills

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 6/14/11 on Health Populi

When we use the phrase, “patient-physician communication,” we usually think about what goes on in the inner sanctum of the doctor’s office: in the exam room at the point-of-diagnosis, -care and -prescribing. There’s another form of communication that’s frustrating to both sides of the doctor-patient dialogue: phone calls. Patients are hanging up after long hold times, frustratingly waiting for important information about clinical care, insurance questions, and appointment schedule, according to a survey from Intuit.

“Patients are losing patience,” Intuit found. Earlier this year, Intuit learned a lot about what U.S. patients are looking for from their doctors: more self-service options, more online access, and more self-health care tools in patient portals. Furthermore, many patients would consider leaving their current physician’s practice if online options aren’t offered by their doctors, which I wrote about in Health Populi on March 9, 2011.

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Prospecting for Gold: The Role of Data in the Health Economy

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 6/9/11 on Health Populi

3 in 4 of the Fortune 50 companies are part of the U.S. health economy in some way. Only 1 in 3 of these is in traditional health industries like pharmaceutical and life science companies, insurance, and businesses in the Old School Health Care value chain.

2 in 3 of the Fortune 50 companies involved in health are in new-new segments. In their report, The New Gold Rush, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) identifies four roles for “prospectors” in the new health economy which will represent 20% of the GDP by 2019:

  • Fixers
  • Connectors
  • Retailers, and
  • Implementers.

These are the disruptive roles that will be played by new, non-traditional entrants seeking their piece of the health care economy.

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The Advances That Accompany Physician’s Adoption of Tablets

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 6/2/11 on Health Populi

The past year has seen a huge jump in the number of hours that physicians spend online; at the margin, the increase is due to physicians’ use of online via mobile platforms.

Meredith Abreu-Ressi, President of Manhattan Research, shared her insights into the firm’s study,Taking the Pulse (v. 11), with me today. The top-line finding of the annual survey is that health professionals have quickly adopted mobile platforms in health — with special attention paid to Apple products, the iPhone and the iPad.

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Employers Expect to Expand Defined Benefit Plans

Brian Klepper

First published 6/1/03 on Health Populi

With health reform uncertainties, growing health regulations, and ever-increasing costs, employers who sponsor health plans for their workforce will continue to cover active employees. That is, at least until 2017, according to the crystal ball used by Mercer, explained in the Health & Benefits Perspective called Emerging challenges…and opportunities…in the new health care world, published in May 2011.

Note that it’s “active” employees who Mercer expects will retain access to health benefits. For retirees, however, it’s another story. They need to be ready to take on more responsibility, financially and perhaps going-to-market to select coverage, while employers may continue some level of subsidy to help pay for that coverage.

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Who Will Pay For Long Term Care Around the World?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published  5/31/11 on Health Populi

By 2050, the demand for long-term care (LTC) workers will more than double in the developed world, from Norway and New Zealand to Japan and the U.S. Aging populations with growing incidence of disabilities, looser family ties, and more women in the labor force are driving this reality. This is a multi-dimensional problem which requires looking beyond the issue of the simple aging demographic.

Help Wanted? is an apt title for the report from The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), subtitled, “providing and paying for long-term care.” The report details the complex forces exacerbating the LTC carer shortage, focusing on the fact that current policies to address this future are fragmented and piecemeal. Instead, OECD argues, policymakers must smartly weave together a comprehensive approach that addresses the many facets of the problem.

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Specialty Drugs Will Drive Future Rx Spending Trend

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 5/19/11 on Health Populi

In the 2011 Medco Drug Trend Report, there’s good news and bad news depending on the lens you wear as a health care stakeholder in the U.S. On the positive side of the ledger, for consumers, payers and health plan sponsors, drug trend in 2010 stayed fairly flat at 3.7% growth. That’s due in major part to the increasing roster of generic drugs taking the place of aging branded prescriptions products. More than $100 billion (with a ‘b’) worth of branded drugs will go off-patent between 2010 and 2020, and the generic dispensing rate could reach 85% by 2020, Medco expects, especially looking at high-cost categories like statins. So generics are dramatically slowing drug cost increases overall.

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Dr. Weil et al Say Patient Perspectives should be Part of Evidence-Based Medicine

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 5/17/11 on Health Populi

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been the rational cornerstone of medical decision making for decades. RCTs demonstrate a drug or therapeutic course’s efficacy – that is, the extent to which a specific intervention, procedure, or regimen produces a beneficial result under ideal conditions.

Of course, how a particular therapy works in an individual is highly personalized based not only on a body’s biochemistry, but personal preferences, perceptions, and personality. That’s why Dr. Andrew Weil and his colleagues, Dr. Scott Shannon and Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, say that medical decision making should take into account the patient perspective.

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Average Annual Health Costs for a US Family of Four Approach $20,000, With Employees Bearing 40%

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 5/11/11 on Health Populi

Health care costs have doubled in less than nine years for the typical American family of four covered by a preferred provider health plan (PPO). In 2011, that health cost is nearly $20,000; in 2002, it was $9,235, as measured by the 2011 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). To put this in context,

  • The 2011 poverty level for a family of 4 in the 48 contiguous U.S. states is $22,350
  • The car buyer could purchase a Mini-Cooper with $20,000
  • The investor could invest $20K to yield $265,353 at a 9% return-on-investment.

Continue reading “Average Annual Health Costs for a US Family of Four Approach $20,000, With Employees Bearing 40%”