Archive | February, 2009

Biggest Loser…Losing Credibility

In one of those classic examples of why do smart people do stupid things, the show The Biggest Loser on NBC shows one of their recent contestants completing a marathon in under 4 hours while weighing close to 300 pounds.  I saw the show and was amazed.  I haven’t been able to do that on 3 tries and wondered what the heck I was doing wrong.

Well…come to find out that he didn’t run the marathon unaided.  Depending on which report you believe, he got a van ride for 3-6 miles toward the end and was crossing the finish line at just under 6 hours.  I just don’t get why the show would be so stupid. 

It’s a show about inspiring people with amazing transformations.  Having him run a half-marathon or even completing a full 26.2 miles at a slow time would have been a great story.  Instead you ruin it and cast down on some of the things that the contestants do.  

Story in the Detroit News about it.

You can read the official statements from Dane (the contestant), the show, and NBC in The LA Times.

“I always intended to run the full marathon. At the 17th mile, I knew I would not make it in time to cross the finish line before it closed at 6 hours, so I then received a ride from the field producer, who wanted to show me crossing the finish line. He drove me for three miles, and then I ran the rest of the way. After all the filming was done I went back and finished the last 3 miles later that day with my wife and cousin Blaine. I apologize for stating that I ran the entire marathon before I actually ran the whole 26 miles. I am proud of the feat of just running 26 miles in one day.”

Saving Money On Rxs

Are you interested in saving your members money?  There are a lot of things you can do.  Pill splitting is an easy solution with a quick impact.  Using generics and moving to mail order are others.  I am going to do a webinar on this in a few weeks. [March 10th and March 12th at 1:00 ET]

Even if you’re not specifically interested, I think you would be fascinated to see how we use a multi-modal approach to drive behavior.  It is modeled on what PBMs have been doing around mail order conversion for years.

Lots of people talk about multi-modal coordination.  We can and have done it.  Gartner is talking about Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) in healthcare and has mentioned Silverlink in their last two reports as one of the few vendors doing this.

I hope you can join us! REGISTER HERE.

Medco Therapeutic Resource Centers and Mail Tour

This is obviously a marketing piece, but I thought it was an interesting video to show how things work behind the scenes at Medco.  The first half of the video is about their TRCs (Therapeutic Resource Centers) and the second half is about their automated mail pharmacy.

Debate And Real-Time Changes

As he typically does, e-patient Dave has started a very interesting discussion on sites like Medpedia and the concept of participatory medicine. As Dave and others have shown, information flows slowly such that physicians (or others) cannot digest all of it and be constantly up to date on everything. Patients facing a chronic or life-threatening condition are motivated to do a deep dive on one topic.

Finding, sharing, and having access to information that is relevant, timely, and peer-reviewed (by patients and professionals) is critical.

“Participatory medicine is a phenomenon similar to citizen/network journalism where everyone, including the professionals and their target audiences, works in partnership to produce accurate, in-depth & current information items. It is not about patients or amateurs vs. professionals. Participatory medicine is, like all contemporary knowledge-building activities, a collaborative venture. Medical knowledge is a network.” (Wikipedia)

The posting and comments are interesting and demonstrate the power of web 2.0 where the founder of Medpedia comments and even makes some real-time changes to address the patients and professionals weighing in on the discussion.

Buyology: Best Book of 2009

I am finally getting around to writing this up. I mentioned the book – Buyology – a few weeks ago. It is definitely the best book I have read this year. It is by Martin Lindstrom and is all about neuromarketing.

For those of you that don’t think it’s relevant to healthcare, think again. Healthcare is all about compelling individuals to take action and become responsible for their health. That is about understanding how they interpret information and what drives them.

Here are some of my notes from the book:

  • One of the processes used was fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) which measures the amount of oxygenated blood throughout the brain. Scientists can see what part of the brain is working at any given time.
  • The other process used was SST (steady-state typography) which tracks rapid brain waves in real time.
  • One of his first studies looked at the effect of cigarette warning labels and found that they not only failed to deter smoking but activated the nucleas accumbens.
  • What people say on surveys and in focus groups does not reliably affect how they behave. [although it is often the best we have]
  • Brand matters…He re-conducted the Pepsi Challenge and showed that if people knew what they were drinking they preferred Coke to Pepsi. When they didn’t know, 50% of people liked Coke. When they knew, 75% of people liked Coke.
  • He showed that consumers have no memory of brands that don’t play an integral part in the storyline of a program. Just putting something in the movie, TV show, or video game isn’t enough to get you mindshare. AND, those successful placements also weaken our ability to remember other brands.

“Our irrational minds, flooded with cultural biases rooted in our tradition, upbringing, and a whole lot of other subconscious factors, assert a powerful but hidden influence over the choices we make.”

  • In the Smiling Study that he references, they revealed that people are far more positive and have a better attitude toward the business when the person they are dealing with is smiling. [Maybe a key thing for avatars and real agents as they talk to people over the computer and/or phone.]
  • Our mirror neutrons allow us to get pleasure just by observing or reading about people doing something that would give us pleasure – e.g., opening a present with a new Wii in it. [You can go to or to enjoy this.]
  • Logos are dead. They showed that images that are associated with smoking (for example) were far more potent in creating a reaction in the brain than the logo.
  • “Secret Ingredients” matter…he shared several examples of how things sold differently when there were non-existent things listed on the label.
  • When people viewed images associated with strong brands – iPod, Harley-Davidson, Ferrari – their brains registered the same activity as when they saw religious images.
  • They studied and showed that odor can activate the same brain response as the sight of the product. He talked about an interesting study that showed that “feminine scents” such as vanilla were sprayed in women’s clothing sections, sales of female apparel actually doubled.
  • Sex, extreme beauty, or a celebrity in an advertisement can hijack attention away from the information in the advertisement.

“I predict that soon, more and more companies (at least those who can afford it) will be trading in their pencils for SST caps. That traditional market research – questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, and so on – will gradually take on a smaller and smaller role, and neuromarketing will become the primary tool companies use to predict the success or failure of their products.”

Some interesting facts:

  • 300 million people, including 60% of male doctors, in China smoke.
  • 8 out of 10 new product launches fail within 3 months.
  • In 2005, 156,000 new products debuted globally (or one product every 3 minutes).
  • In 1965, a typical consumer could recall 34% of advertisements from TV. In 1990, that number dropped to 8%. In 2007, consumers could only remember 2.21 advertisements from all advertisements they had ever seen. [Talk about saturation.]
  • We walk almost 10 faster than we do a decade ago. 3.5 mph
  • A study in Denmark showed that people talked 20% faster than they did a decade ago.
  • And, if you don’t believe that culture matters…In Asian cultures, four is an unlucky number and one researcher found that heart attacks among US residents of Chinese descent spiked as much as 13% on the fourth day of each month.
  • Children that experience social difficulties in school are more likely to be preoccupied with collecting.
  • Both J&J and Play-Doh have lost their original fragrances and haven’t been able to replicate it.
  • When classical music was piped over loudspeakers in the London Underground, robberies, assaults, and vandalism dropped by over 25%.

Some of the interesting companies mentioned:

I thought he had a great story about a rock. If I gave it to you for your birthday, you’d be offended until I told it was from the Berlin Wall. And then when I told you it was from the moon, you would be even more impressed.

For more information, there is also a neuroscience blog.

Limited Networks

I was reading Charlie Baker’s post on Narrow Networks, and it made me think about this concept from a pharmacy perspective.

In general, this is a default solution for mail pharmacy.  You can’t chose between Medco’s mail pharmacy and Express Scripts.  You have one or the other.

And, Mandatory Mail is an expansion on this.  It not only limits the network size, but it forces you to use the network in certain ways (i.e., if you have a maintenance drug you have to fill it at the lowest cost location).

In specialty pharmacy, this has certainly been the trend.  More and more companies are limiting the choice of specialty pharmacies that you can choose from.  In some cases, this is dictated by the manufacturer who limits distribution of their drug to only certain pharmacies.  And, then Mandatory Specialty will drive you to a specific mail site for your specialty medications.

Within the retail network, this has been tried a few times, but without much adoption.  That being said, I found retailers very willing to offer lower prices to clients if they were part of a limited network (where they expected to get more marketshare).  Another option is to treat the network like a formulary (or drug list) with tiers and where members pay more to use certain pharmacies (which likely are higher cost or offer lower quality / service).

In this economy, I have to believe that we will see this take off.  Of course, consumers don’t like it, but it’s better than losing your benefit all together.  It seems like a logical change to the benefit…you limit choice without impacting outcomes in order to save money.  There are some times when it may not make sense.  For example, excluding CVS from the retail network in Boston would be a very difficult sell.  It’s all a question of marketshare, options, and ultimately the savings per disrupted (or upset) member.

Of course, the pharmacy network is very different than physicians.  I would think you could basically have any primary care physician, but everything else could be limited short of emergency care.

Struggles Of A Working Family Report

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a report and video that they did on several families looking at their struggles to pay bills and survive.

The report, Snapshots from the Kitchen Table: Family Budgets and Health Care, is based on interviews with 27 families from six cities across the U.S.. It finds pervasive uncertainty over job security and households teetering on the financial brink, stretching to pay for basics such as food and housing and ill-equipped to cope with unexpected costs for things such as a medical emergency or a necessary home repair.

Health care costs were of particular concern, with many families forgoing doctor visits, skipping prescription medications and postponing needed care. Even those with health insurance reported delaying care in order to avoid co-payments, rising deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for uncovered services.  Despite barely being able to meet the cost of basic needs, many families did not qualify for public programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Is Your Conversation With The MD One-Sided?

USA Today had an article earlier this week called “Doctors Take Decider Role” which is about the fact that patients are often not asked about their opinions.  This is a problem on many fronts.  If you’re not discussing the pros and cons, you are not as likely to buy into the recommended treatment plan leading to lower compliance.

“In the real world, people agree to take drugs, have surgery and undergo tests after a much more one-sided process, new studies show. As a result, researchers say, too many people get care they don’t want or need and miss out on options that make more sense for them.”

In a scary example, the research showed the 69% of men heard the procs of taking a blood test for prostate cancer, but only 18% heard about the downside.  The research also showed that only 41% of patients were asked how they felt about taking blood pressure medications.  But, this obviously varies since 76% were asked to weigh in on their back surgery.

It begs the question of how aware doctors are of patients concerns and priorities.

Script Growth Especially At Mail Continue To Slow

Based on IMS data, prescription growth continues to slow especially at mail order where it’s negative.  Interestingly, in a report by Barclay’s Capital, they estimate that Caremark will grow mail by 10% next year, Express Scripts will lose mail scripts by about 0.5%, and Medco will only grow by 0.8%.

Medco is easy to understand since they are currently the market leader in terms of mail order penetration.  The Express Scripts number requires some additional analysis.  Is it due to client loss?  Is mail just not growing?  The Caremark growth is meaningful.


Time To Sell?

There is always debate about captive PBMs (i.e., those owned by a managed care company).  In theory, I have always argued that they should have a leg up.  But, since pharmacy represents only 10% of total healthcare spend, the majority of the strategic focus is typically on the health insurance side of the business.  [BTW – The 3 largest captive PBMs are Wellpoint, Aetna, and Cigna.]

So, if you look at the stock charts below, you can see that while the PBMs (Express Scripts, Medco, and CVS Caremark) have all held up pretty well the managed care stocks (Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Humana, and Wellpoint) have not held up as well.

If I owned a captive PBM, would this be the time for me to consider selling?  I have heard this debate a lot more recently than in recent years.

PBM 5-Year Stock Chart

express-medco-cvs-caremark-5-yearManaged Care 5-Year Stock Chart

wellpoint-cigna-aetna-united-humana-5-year[As I have disclosed before, I do not hold any individual stocks.]

Trickle Down Healthcare

Many of us know the term “trickle-down economics” which is generally associated with Ronald Reagan.  (Obviously not a concept bought into by the current administration.)  I was thinking about this today from the concept of workplace culture around healthcare.

I have not seen any research to this point, but it would seem to make sense that companies where the senior executive team is focused on exercising – running, triathalons, tennis, etc. – would generally be healthier companies.  As we have seen multiple times, peer pressure works.  So, does it work from a top-down perspective also?

I know one healthcare company where they were refining what was served at the cafeteria and what was in the vending machines.  Obviously, there are ways to control diet through what the company “encourages”.  Do they have bowls of fruit or bowls of chocolate?

Happy Paczki Day

Do you know what a Paczki is?  It is a Polish donut that is traditionally eaten on the Thursday before lent, but here in the US is usually eaten on Fat Tuesday (today).

The concept of indulging before being good in Lent is very counterproductive to good health.  It’s always better to eat consistently well and never over eat or starve yourself.  I had one friend who was on a “diet” which was strict all week, but they could eat anything on the weekends.  Do you really think that works?

I compare it to Aitkens where as long as you stick with it you lose weight, but as soon as you stop, you bloat back up.

Ultimately, it’s simply about calories in and calories burned.  Watch what you eat and exercise.

Social Media Myths

This was a great article in Business Week.  It lays out nicely six myths to watch out for as you jump on the social media bandwagon.

  1. Social media is cheap if not free
  2. Anyone can do it
  3. You can make a big splash in a short time
  4. You can do it all in-house
  5. If you do something great, people will find it
  6. You can’t measure social media marketing results

Shifting Trends

Anyone whose read my blog knows that I find Penelope Trunk’s insights both interesting and unique.  She cuts to the chase and talks about things very directly.  As always, I think you will find some of her comments about how the economy is changing our behavior interesting.

She lays out 5 items here and they talk about it being cool to be cheap and women earning more than men.

Is Choice Good?

In recent discussions, I was talking with some clients about helping members or consumers save money in healthcare.  On the one hand, you can educate them about all the different opportunities.  On the other hand, you can focus them on one or two opportunities.  Those could offer the most value, be the simplest to execute, be the easiest to understand, or have some other logic in prioritization.

The question in my mind was what would drive the best results.  If you look at the research around consumer products and 401K’s (for example), it is clear that choice is not always best.  When presented with more options, people don’t always make a decision.  They get overwhelmed.

So, think about focus and simplification.

Friends Don’t Let Friends

If they can use this concept for selling DirectTV over cable, why don’t we use this more in healthcare?

It could be…Friends Don’t Let Friends:

  • Pay too much for medication
  • Use brand drugs unnecessarily
  • Use retail for maintenance drugs
  • Call into the call center when the information is on the web
  • Go to the ER when they can call the nurse line
  • Pay too much for individual insurance

Maybe, in today’s economy, it will be time for healthcare companies to look for seriously at referral programs. 

  • Get a friend to come to mail order or the local CVS and get your next prescription copay waived.

Everyone is focused on saving money.  Social networking is all the rage.  People trust their friends.  

Now, I may not want to tell my friends that I am on cholesterol lowering medication so that may change it.  But, certainly people talk about higher level items like shopping for individual insurance.

A Few Quick Things

Found this new blog – Drug Channels.  Lots of good posts.

Ron Lyon unfortunately doesn’t blog a lot, but several of his recent posts are very interesting on the Pharmacy Rants and Raves blog.

Bruce Temkin from Forrester blogs at the Customer Experience Matters and has some great insights across industries.

McKinsey has jumped into the social networking fray with their McKinsey Quarterly which is available with a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

A report on Medicare spending on healthcare by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A new eBook on Finding Dr. Right.

SPAM is Back!

spam_can_smallYes.  I am talking about SPAM, the food, not spam as in junk e-mail.  In this economy, their production is up dramatically to levels they haven’t seen since WWII.  But, according to the NY Times, there are lots of thrifty food items that are seeing increased success:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Jello
  • Instant potatoes
  • Velveeta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Kool-Aid
  • Vitamins
  • Beer

Probably not the right grocery list to create a balanced meal.

Personalized Medicine Webinar

I don’t have anything to do with this, but it sounds pretty interesting.  Medco and Regence are talking.  Here is the teaser.  (Click here for more info and registration.)

Personalized medicine is moving rapidly. The FDA in December considered requests to require genetic testing for the colon cancer drugs Vectibix and Erbitux. Approval of such labeling changes could pave the way for a slew of other personalized therapies and diagnostics now waiting in the wings. Stakeholders anticipate significant clinical and financial savings. Recently approved genetic testing for the blood thinner warfarin, for instance, is projected to avoid 85,000 serious bleeding events annually and save roughly $1.1 billion a year!

On the other hand, questions remain whether the model actually provides a favorable return on investment (ROI). A new study finds that genetic testing for warfarin does not appear to be cost-effective in certain patients. And health plans and PBMs are trying to sort out which of the numerous diagnostic tests on the market actually provide clinical utility and improved results. One large health plan, for example, says its costs for diagnostic testing are growing at nearly 20% a year.

So where does all of this leave Rx payers in February 2009?

Ix for Rx Management

Josh Seidman from the Center for Information Therapy today announced on their blog that the center is going to begin focusing on “Ix for Rx Management” that will look at adherence along with other critical issues.  As I talk about all the time, finding the right way to deliver information to people in a way that they can accept it and act upon it is critical.  Given that we use more and more medications, this is a critical area where the center’s leadership can help build awareness of the problems.

“Although awareness certainly is an important precursor, it may be the easiest step in the pathway that takes the average consumer along the road to information consumption, then knowledge accumulation, and ultimately leading to behavior change. We know there’s a large body of research that tells us that, in order to be successful, our Ix initiatives need to “meet people where they are.” More specifically, we need to target the information to the individual’s particular moment in care and tailor it to their particular needs and circumstances.”

The Young Invincibles

“I could have gone to a major university for a year. Instead, I went to the hospital for two days.”

The New York Times had a good article about young people without insurance.  According to the article, there are 13.2M within this group or 29% of the age bracket (which I believe is limited to people in their 20’s).  The article talks about borrowing medications, setting their own bones, and using the Internet to self-diagnose.

“We see people with urinary tract infections taking meds better suited for ear infections or pneumoniaDr. Barbie Gatton explained (ER doctor in NY) “Or they take pain medicine that masks the symptoms. And this allows the underlying problem to get worse and worse.” — the problem is, they haven’t really treated their illness, and they’re breeding resistance.”

My impression is that most people in this age group only act as “invincible” since they can’t afford coverage.  The article does talk about legislation that would allow people to be covered under their parents insurance until they are 29.  That certainly helps some, but it puts a burden on employers that may not be fair.

Seeing Significant Improvements With BPO

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) or as I will sometimes call it CPO (Communications Process Outsourcing) is something we are definitely seeing a growing demand for in the market.  It blends technology, services, process management, consulting, and analytics.

Both IDC and Gartner have now talked about this in recent reports.

According to Janice Young, IDC program director, Payer IT Strategies, “we expect to see an increasing interest and likely investment in BPO in 2009 and 2010 for healthcare payers. Our recent results from our January 2009 healthcare payer survey of IT spending indicate that 45% of healthcare payers expect BPO investments to increase this year.” These trends are highlighted in IDC‘s U.S. Healthcare Payer 2009 Top 10 Predictions (January 2009).

Gartner research vice president, Joanne Galimi, reported on BPO services within health plans in a recent report entitled Healthcare Insurer Business Process Outsourcing Trends (January 2009). “Although things look gloomy for the larger economy, the potential for BPO to address immediate business pressures and long-term recovery goals for the health plans will be unprecedented,” says Galimi.

When I first came to Silverlink as a consultant in early 2007, this was exactly my vision.  I always talked about the “one throat to choke” model.  When you are in an operations role, it is always so difficult to coordinate modes, vendors, discrete data sources, and ultimately to get a holistic view of the member (or patient).  This is what I wanted to help build and is exactly what we have done.

Fortunately, we are now in a position where we can talk about how this service model has grown and how offering turnkey services for clients has driven results.  I love to focus on outcomes so this is exciting.  Here are a few from the press release we put out this morning:

  • Over a 300% improvement in retail-to-mail conversions for a large pharmacy benefit manager (PBM),
  • 54% increase in participation for a pharmacy program, representing between $150 and $175 per year per prescription in consumer savings,
  • 400% improvement in yield in a COB program, translating to over $20 million in cost savings to a major U.S. health plan, and
  • Up to an 82% increase in transfer rates for population health engagement for disease management, lifestyle management and treatment decision support programs.

Pharmacy Principles for Healthcare Reform

Several pharmacy groups have put out their principles for healthcare reform:

“Proper use of prescription medications helps improve quality of life and health outcomes. How ever, the health care system incurs more than $ 177 billion annually in mostly avoidable health care costs to treat adverse events from inappropriate medication use. T he proper use of medication becomes even more important as treatment of chronic disease costs the health care system $ 1.3 trillion annually, or about 7 5 cents of every health care dollar.”

The document goes on to talk about the importance of pharmacists in managing chronic diseases and helping patients.  A role that I completely support although I question the bandwidth of the pharmacists to do this given the massive shortage in the US.

The Principles are:

  1. Improve Quality and Safety of Medication Use
  2. Assure Patient Access to Needed Medications and Pharmacy Services
  3. Promote Pharmacy and Health Information Technology Interoperability

They are kind of like “No Child Left Behind” in that you can’t argue with the concepts.  At first read, the only thing that raised an eyebrow for me was some of the language around Principle 2.  I could interpret it to be a subtle play against some of the trend management tools that the PBMs use to help control prescription costs – e.g., mail order pharmacies.

Process…The Key to Success

“We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. We observe that our competitors often get average (or worse) results from brilliant people managing broken processes.”

Sources: “Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System,” Steven Spear and Kent Bowen, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1999

I think this is so important especially in times like this when we are all focused on doing more with less. It is critical to understand how your process works; how to apply automation; and how to learn and improve it over time.

I came across a presentation from a webinar I gave back in 2007 on Business Process Management (BPM) which made me think about this. (Some of the vendors in this space include Pega Systems, Lombardi, and Appian.)  It’s also very relevant given Gartner‘s recent report on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) in the payor space.

“Healthcare insurers should view business process outsourcing as a means to achieve business transformation while minimizing risk. Therefore, using BPO for nondifferentiating business processes is an essential step toward achieving competitive success and business growth.” Joanne Galimi in Healthcare Insurers Business Process Outsourcing Trends (January 23, 2009).

Finding a business partner that can work with you to understand your processes, understand what measures matter, help you improve your approach, and that is willing to take risk based on your success is important.   I always encourage people to not think of companies as vendors but as partners that bring them innovative ideas and help them iterate to improve.  I don’t believe in the big bang theory that I can do it right the first time and never need to change.  That flies in the face of everything that has been observed in different industries.

Siftables: Very Cool Tools From TED

A friend shared this video this morning with me. Very cool. This is a presentation by David Merrill from MIT about Siftables. He has integrated new technologies with our traditional building blocks to build interactive, high tech blocks that can be used for spelling, math, music, and other ideas.

Imagine the ability to use these to teach people.

Walking Surveillance Device

There is always lots of debate on the issue of privacy.  Clearly, there are military reasons to collect data (with debates on appropriate use).  There are programs we willingly opt into (like when I sign up for an organizations e-mail list).  Within healthcare, we have HIPAA that tries to protect our personal data.  Then there is the constant paranoia about how much your employer monitors on your computer – what sites you visit, your keystrokes, what you say on the phone.  Then on the more debated side there is what information is it okay for a company to aggregate and use to push information to me that makes me healthier or saves me money.  I don’t expect this will get solved anytime soon.

I think this is why I found the story about Google’s G1 interesting in yesterday’s paper where it talks about how Google aggregates information from you to better target you with advertisements.

“It enables Google to field your search queries quickly when you’re on the run. It also gives Google access to your contact lists, IMs, e-mails, personal calendar, social networking and video downloading — the videos you’d fess up to publicly, as well as the ones you might not. As for all those “personal photos” swapped with pals on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter: Google can grab those, too.

Everything gets crammed into your personal “file,” so to speak, along with a lot of other stuff — such as where you bank, shop and cruise on the Web when you’re lonely, bored or just in the mood for a little fun.

Once your information has been collected and stored, there’s no way to get rid of it. You can’t see what’s been collected or have it expunged. It’s Google’s for as long as it wants to hold onto it.”

Obviously, more and more people use mobile devices and the mobile web.  It’s one thing to have your information aggregated when you use a service (i.e., Google search).  It seems another thing for them to pull information from your device and aggregate it.  I am not sure how this will play out, but I expect there will be a lot of discussion on blogs about this topic.

Cigna And Social Media

I usually hold Humana out as an innovator in the area of established health care companies using social media and other tools to drive awareness.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out more about Cigna’s activities on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter along with their deployment of games (like Humana) from the World Healthcare Blog.


Focus On Chronic Diseases

People are always talking about where to focus to reduce costs in the US health care system…Here’s a hint from the January 2009 Health Affairs Health Policy Update:

“Now three-quarters of the $2 trillion-plus that we spend on U.S. health care each year goes to paying the bills for chronic illness:  cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, cancers, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression.  Globally, the World Health Organization estimates, three out of every five deaths – four out of five in low- and middle-income countries – stem from chronic disease.”


You can find more out on the website, but I liked a few of their predictions for 2009+.

Explaining WOM and BUZZ

These are two marketing tactics that are related.  WOM = Word of Mouth.  Buzz should be fairly straightforward.

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