Corporate Behavior and Rising Health Care Costs

As the dust settled from the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), one of my LinkedIn groups got into a debate about what it all means and what needs to happen next. I got such a positive reaction from one of my comments that I thought I’d share it here, followed by details of the documentary I mentioned.

My Comment

The aging population adds significantly to healthcare costs, but that’s a global problem and not specific to the US, so what is it about our nation that makes our healthcare system the most expensive in the world by far and without the positive outcomes to justify it?

As a consumer advocate, I believe our problems are rooted in politics and societal beliefs, and I find it quite telling that, according to the HBO documentary “The Weight of the Nation,” public health officials can accurately gauge one’s average weight and BMI by zip code. They’ve also noticed that longevity in poor neighborhoods can be over 20 YEARS LESS than in affluent neighborhoods on the other side of the same town. Watch the video and see the stats at http://www.mhealthtalk.com/2012/06/americas-obesity-epidemic-a-big-problem-updated/.

I especially feel for children born into poor families, or the “new poor” that were once middle-class families. Those are the families where the parents lost their job and/or home at no fault of their own, got hit with a health emergency that forced them into bankruptcy, and easily burned through any retirement or capital investments they once had. Poor families often have:

  • Less access to healthcare, even from pre-birth,
  • Less access to affordable and nutritious foods,
  • Less exercise opportunity, with fewer places to safely play,
  • Inferior public schools (college seems out-of-reach),
  • Fewer job opportunities, and
  • Less say in government.

Read More …

Grandparents – the fastest growing demographic on Twitter

Senior Tweeter Sure, you can follow me on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Flipboard and Paper.li), but this video makes me feel like a social media newbie.

Grandparents were described as the fastest growing demographic on Twitter.

So far Modern Health Talk has posted nearly 6,000 tweets and has over 350 followers, but I seem to have much to learn as social media evolves. Please comment or email me to suggest ways to improve our reach and impact. Here’s what I’m looking for, but tell me what you think I should hear too.

  1. How do you prefer to follow me? (Twitter, Facebook, newsletter, etc.)
  2. When do you use Twitter or other social media ? (day of week and time)
  3. What gets your interest? (images, videos, articles, cartoons)
  4. Is there anything you’d like from Modern Health Talk that we’re NOT providing?

Read More …

Find PURPOSE to Prevent Empty-Nest Boredom

Find PURPOSE to prevent Empty Nest BoredomThe kids are grown and out of the house, leaving you with more time on your hands than you’ve had in decades. While that feeling of freedom can be gratifying at first, after a while, it can also start to feel a little boring, especially if you’ve also retired. In fact, launching your children out into the world is considered to be one of the most difficult life transitions to face.

If your life has gotten rather mundane as of late, instead of sinking further into the doldrums, consider taking part in one or more of these activities that are sure to prevent empty-nest boredom, soothe your soul, and boost your happiness levels. Comment below to let us know about your favorite activity, even if it’s not on this list. Read More …

Convincing Mom to Exercise

 

Convincing Mom to Exdercise

Image credit: Healthways FIT

Since the day you were born, you’ve never won a debate with your mom. It didn’t work when you wanted that G.I. Joe. It didn’t work when you wanted to take a late night ride in Tommy Lombardo’s Corvette. And it didn’t work when you thought replacing your bedroom door with a bead curtain was a good idea.

But convincing mom to hit the gym is a fight you have to win. And here’s all the ammunition you’ll need to counter her arguments. Read More …

Technology and the Senior Housing Industry

Is Technology Disrupting or Transforming the Senior Housing Industry?

Visiting GrandmaThis is the question posed by Joseph F Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab, in his article, which is reproduced below with his permission.

The disruptive demographics of an aging society offers a growth opportunity for the senior housing industry. However, technology is also presenting new ways to enable older adults to stay in their own homes rather than move into senior housing options. Yet many of these same technologies, creatively applied, may improve the attractiveness and operational efficiency of senior housing. So is technology a threat or an opportunity for the senior housing industry? The answer is – yes. Read More …

Moore’s Law and The FUTURE of Healthcare

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk
Which Future

This article examines a future driven by Moore’s Law and the trend of circuits and components getting smaller, faster and cheaper exponentially over time and the eventual blending of science and technology (INFO + BIO + NANO + NEURO). I approach this topic from the unique perspective of an IBM technologist, market strategist, futurist, and consumer advocate. See About the Author and About Modern Health, below, to better understand what shaped this view of the future. You can also see my slide presentation and related articles & infographics at the bottom.

Which Future?

Futurists regularly consider alternative scenarios and examine factors that can steer the future in one direction or another. That way, clients can select a preferred version of the future and know what they might do to make that future happen.

It’s relatively easy to extrapolate past trends, assuming that nothing prevents those trends from continuing at the same rate, but will they? One can also look at what’s possible by tracking research lab activity and then estimating how long it will take to bring those new technologies to market.

But a potentially better approach is to start with a solid understanding of market NEEDS and what drives the development of solutions for them, or factors that inhibit solutions. Changes in politics and public policy, for example, can be a huge driver, with Obamacare as an example, or a huge inhibitor. That’s why I’m so interested in various healthcare reforms that accompany tech innovation. Read More …

A Place at the Table – about Poverty, Hunger & Health

Spread the word today! This important documentary is coming to movie theaters, YouTube and on-demand on March 1.

A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social, health and cultural implications for our nation, and how the problem of hunger can be solved once and for all, with your help.

Now think about the dramatic role that a proper diet can play in decreasing obesity, diabetes, chronic illness, food allergies, and healthcare costs by improving the health of Americans.

As Dr. Wahls says in her TED video, “Hunter-Gatherer diet feeds Mitochondria & Brain Cells.”  “You’ll pay one way or another” – either pay now for a nutritious diet that improves your productivity and quality of life, or pay more later for medical intervention and long-term healthcare. This concept applies individually or nationally as portrayed in A Place at the Table.

Read More …

Working Poor Families Struggle to Pay Bills

There’s a Direct relationship between poverty, obesity, and the cost of health care.

Here’s some statistics, mostly from the 2010 census:

  • 15.1% of Americans (46.2 million) live in poverty, including 22% of our children. 20% live in extreme poverty.
  • 3.2 million Americans were kept out of poverty by unemployment insurance.
  • 20.3 million were kept out of poverty by social security.
  • The poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,113; the 2010 avg. income of the bottom 90% was $26.364.
  • $6,298 — decline in median working-age household income from 2000 to 2010.
  • 49.1 million — number of people under 65 without any health insurance.
  • 13.6 million — decline in people under 65 with employer-sponsored health insurance from 2000-2010.
  • Public health officials can accurately predict obesity and longevity rates by zip codes. One inner city example had an average lifespan of just 64 years while it was 90 years in a wealthier neighborhood just 8 miles away. (HBO’s documentary, The Weight of the Nation)
  • Disadvantaged communities are at higher risk for many preventable health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis B and C, and infant mortality, largely due to the lack of health care, nutritious food at affordable prices, and sidewalks and parks to encourage exercise.
  • Pressures from Job, Money, Divorce and Violence cause a vicious cycle of Stress = Obesity = Stress.

Tech innovation and automation also plays a role, increasing productivity and profits for some, but eliminating jobs faster than creating new ones. Dr. Oz apparently agrees, as shown in this article, which also features a CBS report on the jobs impact of robotics and a collection of slides that I recently presented to a local jobs group.

 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/us-working-poor_n_2476463.html

mHealthTalk and Social Media Statistics

Friends from Beyond is shown as an Internet cloud hosting email, social media and other websites.

Attribution: This post is based on a Huffington Post article by Brian Honigman (Digital Marketing Executive at Mark Ecko Enterprises), with notes added about our own use of social media.

With Pinterest expanding its features for businesses, Instagram launching a Web version and Facebook continually expanding its advertising options, now is as good a time as ever to bolster your social media presence for the future.

Before doing so, it’s important to understand the data behind each social channel to gain insights into what works and what doesn’t with your audience. Here are 100 of the most fascinating social media statistics and figures from 2012 that can help you better understand Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus for the coming year.

Read More …

How Tech Makes Life Better for Boomers, Seniors

Technology ‘Saved My Life’: Making Life Better for Boomers, Seniors

From improving fitness and aging in place to ending isolation and engaging
more easily with family and friends, technology solutions help baby boomers
and seniors successfully address many of the issues associated with aging.

Orlando Estrada

Orlando Estrada, 77, uses Microsoft HealthVault to manage his health information online at the St. Barnabas Senior Center in Los Angeles.

REDMOND, Wash. – July 9, 2012Milton Greidinger of New York and Concha Watson of Miami, Fla., were in their mid-80s when they first learned to use a personal computer. The experience dramatically changed both their lives, enabling them to reconnect to the world by pushing through the loneliness and isolation that had threatened to engulf them.

“It saved my life,” says Greidinger, a former buyer for Korvette’s department store, in assessing the Virtual Senior Center, a Microsoft public-private partnership that uses technology to link homebound seniors to activities at their local senior center and to provide better access to community services. “Before this project, I was bored to death. I was just waiting for my time to finish. Now, all of a sudden I’m wide awake. I’m alive again.”

Read More …

Dramatic Change in the Causes of Death

photo image of Stephen C. Schimpff, MDby Stephen C Schimpff, MD

Most of us will not have the opportunity to just die of “old age” or to simply fall to sleep one night never to wake again. Most often, we develop an illness which causes our death. These have changed markedly over the years. For the pioneers, accidents, infections, childbirth were times and causes of great likelihood of death. A century ago, infections were the leading causes of death. Today, we will probably survive much longer than our ancestors but it is more likely we will die of heart disease, cancer or stroke. This is a dramatic change in the causes of death that has occurred over the years and with it is an equally dramatic change in the factors that predispose to those deaths.

Read More …

Abreviated Vision of the Future of Health Care

Why aren’t more health care organizations using social media to connect with patients and their community?” is a question posed to the LinkedIn discussion group, Innovations in Health. What follows is my response.

RFID diagnostic skin patchWhile HIPAA and regulatory oversight can inhibit progress, that’s not all bad unless extreme. On the other hand, social & political pressures can drive progress, and technology can enable it.

As an amateur futurist, I often view various potential future outcomes from three perspectives: (1) extrapolating trends, (2) examining market inhibitors, and (3) considering market drivers and enablers. Progress happens more quickly when #2 is minimized and #3 is maximized. So here’s what I foresee.

Artificial intelligence in Watson-like cloud computing services will combine with the remote monitoring of medical sensor devices and other mHealth technologies to move more & more physician functions down-market to PAs, NPs, RNs, aids, and patients themselves. Read More …

Physicians find and help Patients through Social Media

In Patients Find and Help Each other in Social Media, I showed how they’re actively turning to the Internet to find solutions when their doctors don’t have the answers. And a new report by the Health Research Institute at PwC shows that patient social media activity dwarfs that of the healthcare industry.

Simplified graphic of social media in health

 

Now the infographic below is about physicians going online to find and support patients through social media and telemedicine programs. Read More …

Consumers use Social Media more than Health Companies

This report complements my earlier article on Patients Find and Help Each other in Social Media.
Rest assured that I’ll be devouring its contents, contacting its authors, and reporting my findings.

Consumer Activity on Social Media Sites Dwarfs that of Healthcare Companies, Finds New PwC Study on Social Media in HealthcareClick on report cover to view Social Media Report

New York, April 17, 2012 – Social media is changing the nature of healthcare interaction, and health organizations that ignore this virtual environment may be missing opportunities to engage consumers, according to a new report by the Health Research Institute (HRI) at PwC US entitled, “Social media likes healthcare: From marketing to social business.”

The report found that social media activity by hospitals, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies is miniscule compared to the activity on community sites. While eight in 10 healthcare companies (as tracked by HRI during a sample one-week period) had a presence on various social media sites, community sites had 24 times more social media activity than corporate sites. The finding holds significant implications for businesses looking to capitalize on social media opportunities.

Liking, following, linking, tagging, stumbling: social media is changing the nature of health-related interactions.

Read More …

Medicine Unplugged: Your phone, DNA and data

Medicine Unplugged: Your phone, your DNA, your dataBy Eric J. Topol, M.D. (original article on Huffington Post)

Just as the little mobile wireless devices radically transformed our day-to-day lives, so will such devices have a seismic impact on the future of health care. It’s already taking off at a pace that parallels the explosion of another unanticipated digital force — social networks. Read More …

Patients Find and Help Each other in Social Media

A new PwC market research study shows that Consumers use Social Media far more than Health Companies.

Patients are turning to the Internet and Social Media to find solutions to health problems when their doctors don’t know the answers. While some docs are overwhelmed with new literature about medical advancements and resent patients who question their advice, others welcome the self-educated patient who has found treatment alternatives online and wants to discuss them. If you’re one of those e-patients and have used social media to connect with others like you to exchange stories and knowledge, I want to hear how you did it.

mHealthTalk Positioning - at the intersection of important trends and between Support Groups and Technology PagesDid you use an online support group like e-Patients.netPatientsLikeMe.com, and WebMD.com? Did you stumble upon a technology solution by landing on a website for a specific product or service? Did you use a smartphone app? Toni Bernhard uses Facebook Groups for this. Do you?

Why I ask… Modern Health Talk is positioned between these extremes, at the intersection of several important trends, including rising costs, aging baby boomers, wireless Internet access, telemedicine, and increased interest in social media, digital sensors, telepresence, and smartphones & tablets. BUT… We’ve found that the good online support groups focus on a single medical condition and NOT the combination of conditions and limitations associated with aging. We so far have been unable to build a vibrant community that engages the elderly in discussions of tech solutions for aging and want to learn from the success of others, potentially partnering with them. So please share your experience by email or a comment below.

e-Patient Katherine Leon

Below, NPR reports on patients with rare diseases who are finding each other online and promoting new research. The story features Katherine Leon, a woman with an extremely rare heart condition who managed to do what many hospitals couldn’t. She set up a virtual patient registry, allowed patients from all over the world to submit their medical records and scans online, and then used the data to convince researchers at the Mayo Clinic to run clinical trials where there was no interest before. Her story became national news. Read More …

10 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for the Next 25 YearsFORESIGHT may be the single most critical skill for the 21st Century. Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future.

That’s why I’ve been a member of the Central Texas chapter of the World Future Society for years, where I meet interesting people with widely varied perspectives of the future. It’s also why I participate in so many Linkedin discussion groups on emerging healthcare issues.

The following ten forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, Forecasts for the Next 25 Years. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #3. Nanotechnology offers hope for restoring eyesight.

Flower-shaped electrodes topped with photodiodes, implanted in blind patients’ eyes, may restore their sight. The “nanoflowers” mimic the geometry of neurons, making them a better medium than traditional computer chips for carrying photodiodes and transmitting the collected light signals to the brain. Read More …

Friends from Beyond, and your Digital Will

Friends from Beyond is shown as an Internet cloud hosting email, social media and other websites.

By Wayne Caswell, retired IBM technologist, market strategist, and founder of Modern Health Talk

Friends from Beyond explores the role of social media and digital assets after death, and the need to think about this ahead of time, even creating a digital will to say who acts as executor and who takes ownership of the accounts, which ones get deleted, as well as if any should be preserved for perpetuity.

The article extends the thinking of last week’s post, The Legacy of a Digital Generation, which asked, What will be your legacy?

Will future generations remember you, what you did, and what you valued? Where will they go to reflect on your life? Will it be a grave site, a virtual memorial setup as a perpetual website, or your social media accounts? Read More …

How Safe is your Personal Health Information?

HackerGoogle

By Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk

People worry about the security of their identity, financial and medical information when they hear stories of hacker attacks on large commercial and government websites, including AOL, Hotmail, Microsoft, MySpace, NASA, Sony, Stratfor, USBank, VeriSign, VISA, Xbox, Yahoo, and many others. They also worry when they read about Target, Google, Facebook, and Twitter pushing privacy boundaries and taking liberties with their collected customer data. Both types of stories dilute trust.

It doesn’t much help if a company that overreaches and gets caught simply promises to do better, and then if public outrage prompts potential legislation, they join industry initiatives to propose new plans for self-regulation, such as the publication of privacy policies that users seldom read.

This article addresses the question, “How Safe is your Personal Health Information?” It examines the benefits and security risks of storing your personal health information online, based on my own personal experiences and decades of IT experience. But I’d like to hear of your experiences in the comments section too.

Read More …

Let me down Easy is a must-watch performance

image from Let Me Down Easy on PBS.orgYvonne and I loved Anna Deavere Smith’s solo performance of Let Me Down Easy, which blends theatrics, journalism and social commentary about Healthcare, and I highly recommend watching it. PBS aired the program as part of its Great Performances series this week on Friday the 13th, how fitting with the state of our nation’s healthcare system. Here’s what they said about it.

She performs 19 characters in the course of an hour and thirty five minutes. Their stories are alternately humorous and heart-wrenching, and often a blend of both. Building upon each other with hypnotic force, her subjects recount personal encounters with the frailty of the human body, ranging from a mere brush with mortality, coping with an uncertain future in today’s medical establishment, to confronting an end of life transition. The testimony of health care professionals adds further texture to a vivid portrayal of the cultural and societal attitudes to matters of health.

Watch this 2:10 min video preview;

Read about what PBS had to say and what New York Times critics said.