Aug 20 2015
Holy August – Fall is coming! And with it, a Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) that has been revamped since your last sip in 2014. If you haven’t heard, Starbucks announced this week that they’re changing their PSL recipe to include REAL PUMPKIN. I’ll let that sink in, because it’s big news and everyone is freaking out.
But how did this happen and why would Starbucks change a recipe with such a massive cult following?
One of the most interesting parts about this story to me is that it started with a popular food blogger, Vani Hari aka Food Babe, and her community. It’s a pretty awesome example of consumers standing up and taking control of the food they put in their bodies. Consumers are demanding healthier, real food, and big companies are being forced to listen. (Quick disclaimer: Hari has gotten some flack for not always backing up her claims with science, but it appears this story hit home with a lot of truth. Bear with me on this one.)
Here’s the back story. As Hari explains, she started digging…
Aug 13 2015
Did you see it? Last week, an infographic claiming to show what happens to your body within the first hour of drinking Coca-Cola tore across the internet like wildfire. Created by blogger The Renegade Pharmacist including statistics from this BlissTree article, it featured claims such as: at “45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.”
Well, if the earlier mention of “10 teaspoons of sugar” hadn’t caught your attention, the heroin reference sure did.
Clearly, this infographic isn’t exactly an ad for a refreshing can of Coke. And the accuracy of the content has been criticized more than a few times (see here and here), but that’s not what I want to talk about.
There’s a ton of science about why infographics and visuals are such effective ways to convey information. According to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, it only takes one tenth of a second to process visual information—that’s 60,000 times faster than it takes for the brain to decode text. We know…
Aug 6 2015
In early July, my mother was admitted to ICU. She has since finished rehab at a transitional care unit (TCU) and is now home. This experience and the recent release of the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores has me thinking about what providers, patients and patient advocates can do to improve the experience.
For those of you not familiar, the HCAHPS are significant for two reasons:
First, results are used by Medicare to determine payment for each hospital.
Second, HCAHPS are a measure of patient experience, which along with health of a population and per capita cost make up the framework for optimizing health system performance known as the Triple Aim.
So, what did we learn from the recent HCAHPS scores? Quality of care and outcomes are dominant metrics and significantly affect a provider’s score but there are three key “soft skill” areas hospitals can focus on to improve scores:
1. Improving employee engagement. Recent data from The Advisory Board Company (a provider education and resource tool) showed that for every one percent increase in employee engagement an organization’s overall score…
Jul 30 2015
What does the word “health” mean? If you say that healthy eating means organic and hormone-free food, while I say it is lean protein and red wine, who is right? The short answer is both of us. While that may be frustrating and a bit unnerving, it’s also an opportunity for your food, beverage or restaurant brand.
Today, consumers are bombarded with definitions of health, from fortified and gluten-free menu items to such ambiguous terms as “natural” and “fresh.” There are numerous interpretations of what constitutes health, and most may be argued as correct. This may be why 55% of consumers try to take some control over the healthfulness of their diet, according to the International Food Information Council’s Food & Health Survey 2015.
Because health can mean different things to different people, it is important that your customers easily understand what it means for your brand. If you plan to create a “healthy” product line extensions or menu section for the first time, it’s just as important to maintain your brand positioning. You want healthful products offerings to strengthen your brand equity rather than dilute it…
Jul 24 2015
I recently read an article in a local business trade about what makes a CEO trustworthy to investors. The author told the story of how a woman without financial savvy inherited a portfolio from her father and, in conjunction with a financial advisor, gave a thumbs up or down based on reading the chief executive’s letter to shareholders for each new investment. And you thought no one read those….
Not only are people taking notice of what company executives are saying, but they are also paying attention to those who are not saying anything, or those who speak using corporate jargon. A timely case in point for why to avoid jargon is the recent announcement by Anthem and Cigna regarding their pending merger:
“Together our companies would rapidly build on each other’s complementary strengths to create a diversified platform that could better capitalize on new opportunities and meaningfully deliver innovative, quality solutions to all of our stakeholders,” said Joseph Swedish, president and chief executive officer of Anthem.”
“Anthem expects the combination would be accretive to operating earnings per share and that the combined enterprise would generate significant annual cost synergies by achieving…
Jul 23 2015
Foodies, health-conscious people and professional or at-home chefs would probably choose to eat anywhere else before 7-Eleven, right? However, this week’s news has surprised many and has certainly boosted the convenient store chain’s reputation.
In a recent article by Fortune online, 7-Eleven seems to be more progressive than it may have previously seemed. The author explains that ALL 7-Eleven stores will make the switch from preparing foods with conventional egg-based mayonnaise to a vegan alternative by Hampton Creek called Just Mayo. The mayo is made from pea protein, contains zero cholesterol, and less sodium and saturated fat than its animal-based counterpart. Hampton Creek CEO and founder, Josh Tetrick claims that the company has a mission, and that is to change the food industry and make it kinder and gentler, for people, the environment and the animals. From a business perspective, the way to implement these changes is to make prices competitive enough for companies like 7-Eleven to make the switch. While this is both shocking and exciting for environmentalists, vegans and animal-activists, as 7-Eleven has not been the most progressive company in the past, it is also a win-win for companies looking…
Jul 16 2015
These days, there are very few places you can go without seeing a Fitbit, Jawbone Up or even an Apple Watch. With 1 in 5 Americans owning a fitness tracker, wearable technology is becoming a part of our everyday life.
Having owned both a Fitbit and a Jawbone, I am one of the many who have hopped on this health tracking bandwagon over the past few years. Like others, I enjoy the challenge of exceeding my step and workout goals, seeing a breakdown of my sleeping patterns and having something to hold me accountable on the days where bingeing on Netflix is much more appealing than running.
A lot of people are skeptical how long the wearable technology trend will last, since a third of the people who buy wearable health devices stop using them within six months. Healthcare professionals, on the other hand, see fitness trackers as a great opportunity for the industry.
Currently these trackers monitor things like steps, fitness, sleep patterns and heart rate, but as technology continues to develop, so will the trackers. Physicians are already using
fitness trackers to help…
Jul 9 2015
Raise your hand if you know someone who could be helped by a drug that’s currently awaiting FDA approval. Whether it’s you, a family member, or a friend, chances are that someone you know could benefit from accelerated access to a breakthrough drug or device. (there are some good reasons for this protracted process, but more on that later)
With an average timeline of 12 years to get a new drug from the laboratory to the pharmacy shelf (and more than $350 million in research and development costs), many people miss out on the opportunity to access lifesaving drugs and devices before it’s too late. And, because of the time and cost to develop a new therapy, rare diseases are less attractive for pharmaceutical companies. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, which is being considered this week in the House, seeks to encourage biomedical innovation and the development of new treatments and cures.
Don’t have time to read up? Here’s your cheat sheet.
WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED?
Some elements of the bill include:
Jul 2 2015
For most of us, summer is filled with many outdoor activities. Whether you’re spending the day on the boat with family, or having a backyard BBQ with friends, it’s important to have fun—but it’s also important to keep your skin protected from the bright summer sun.
Ultraviolet radiation is no joke. Its effects on your skin can cause damage for years. So, here are a few tips from the American Cancer Society to keep your skin safe, glowing and beautiful.