1916: When Department Stores Featured Hospitals

The New York Times: “Lord & Taylor, New York’s oldest luxury department store, founded in 1826, boasted ‘one of the most attractive and completely equipped of the small hospitals in New York City,’ according to an article in The Modern Hospital magazine in 1916. The store operated the hospital when it was located on Broadway and East 20th Street before moving to its new building on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets in 1914. On Fifth Avenue, the entire 11th floor was devoted to employee health and welfare, from the hospital to various medical and dental clinics, a roof garden, gymnasium, a schoolroom for boys and girls and an employee restaurant.”

“B. Altman, between Fifth and Madison Avenues and 34th and 35th Streets, operated a 12th-floor emergency hospital that by 1916 was handling as many as 18,000 cases a year, according to Hospital Management magazine. A 1914 brochure celebrating the store’s expansion said, ‘The 12th floor of the new addition has been given over in its entirety to the use of the employees.’ Separate dining rooms served men and women, and a physician and two nurses oversaw a large medical suite and surgery. Also, in a sign of those times, there was a men’s smoking room.”

“Welfare services for department store workers began with John Wanamaker … He wanted to keep his workers healthy and happy, and so in an era of rapacious capitalism, child labor and male privilege he introduced half-day-Saturdays off, medical benefits and a retirement system … His competitors soon followed with medical facilities, employee exercise and lunchrooms, educational training, vacation programs and medical clinics. When Macy’s on West 34th Street expanded in 1924, the new 16th floor included an employee dental clinic with chairs for six dentists.”


Schmidt’s Toothpaste: For Fresh, Charcoal-y Breath

Fast Company: “Unilever recently acquired Schmidt’s Naturals for its millennial-friendly natural deodorants, and now the Portland-based startup is taking on another bathroom shelf staple: Toothpaste … Much like the company’s popular deodorant line, which comes in unconventional scents like rose vanilla and lavender sage, the toothpaste collection reimagines the flavors we swish and spit. Think activated charcoal with mint, vanilla chai, and coconut with lime in bright, modern tubes that starkly differ from more hippie-esque natural brands.”

“Schmidt’s Naturals cofounder and CEO Michael Cammarata tells Fast Company he saw a ripe opportunity to translate modern consumer scent preferences for personal care products. While customers adamantly want oral care that leaves them feeling fresh, the company’s research found that could also extend into citrus and floral flavors.”

“It remains to be seen whether consumers will be drawn to the product for its main selling point: Health. Schmidt’s Naturals is free of potentially harmful ingredients, and its packaging proudly touts vitamin and superfood extracts … Cammarata is confident that the health-conscious tide is growing, and with that, so will society’s view of what they put on and in their body. Indeed, a recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that consumer complaints of adverse health events related to personal care products more than doubled last year.”


Fast Shopping: Making Convenience ‘Better for You’

The Washington Post: “As sales of gas, cigarettes and soda plummet, many stores are vying for consumers with fresh produce and other ‘better-for-you’ products that would have once looked out of place in the land of Big Gulps … That could make a difference in the diets of millions, experts say, especially those who rely on convenience stores as a primary source of food.”

“At 7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store chain, with 10,500 U.S. locations, the company has aggressively developed ‘better-for-you’ products under the Go!Smart banner, pushing low-sugar herbal teas, fruit-and-nut bars and rice crackers. At Kwik Trip, the Midwestern chain seen by many in the industry as the leader of the healthy stores movement, executives hired an in-house dietitian, Erica Flint, to help introduce new products and reformulate old ones.”

“In the past year and a half, four of the country’s largest convenience store distributors have committed to initiatives with Partnership for a Healthier America, which is allied with former first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! project. With PHA, the companies have promised to make it easier for convenience stores to source produce and other healthy foods — and to market those products.”


How CVS & Aetna Could Change Healthcare

Business Insider: “CVS Pharmacy’s $69 billion deal to acquire the health insurer Aetna — the second-biggest deal of the year — is different. It could actually make treatment simpler and easier for Americans, and it catches a bunch of trends in the market that push costs down. There are two big streamlining ideas at work here. First … Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are the gatekeepers between insurers and a patient’s medical treatment, and CVS already has one. Ideally it ensures that the PBM is incentivized to keep costs for the insurer as low as possible.”

“For the most part, though, this doesn’t fundamentally change Americans’ experience when they get sick. PBMs are faceless entities, and insurance is a foreign language to a lot of people. This is where the second streamlining idea in this CVS acquisition comes into play … the company will be ‘promoting lower-cost sites of care’ after this acquisition. That means turning brick-and-mortar stores into treatment centers and hiring medical staff. That’s expensive, but it will keep sick people out of more expensive hospitals, which keeps costs down for insurers and ultimately customers.”

“And unlike a lot of new urgent-care facilities hitting the market to do this very thing (keep people out of hospitals), CVS comes with a ton of brand familiarity. Plus, quarter after quarter CVS has seen that its other businesses are outperforming sales in its retail channel. Turning brick-and-mortar stores into healthcare facilities is one way to make good use of them.”


Retail Medicine: Is Aetna The Next Apple?

Axios: “Aetna’s Mark Bertolini has been talking with retail giants and the architect behind the Apple and Tesla retail stores about ways to make visiting the doctor more like going to the mall … Bertolini says health care should take a lot of cues from Apple, noting people are already willing to make appointments at the Genius Bar. Not only that, but they willingly pay money.” Bertolini comments: “They don’t sell anything at the Apple Store. People buy stuff at the Apple Store.”

He also says: “It has to be a place that’s not linoleum floors and formica counters. It needs to be a place where people want to go and it doesn’t need to be as expensive as the marble on the Apple floors and the glass staircase, but it can be a better experience.”


Aledade: A Silicon Valley ‘Healthcare’ Solution

Farhad Manjoo: “The American health care system is a fragmented archipelago, with patients moving through doctors’ offices and hospitals that are often disconnected from one another. As a result, many primary care physicians — who often see themselves as a kind of quarterback who calls the shots on a patient’s care — have no easy way to monitor a patient’s meandering path through the health care system.”

Software developed by Aledade, a Silicon Valley startup, “addresses that by collecting patient data from a variety of sources, creating a helicopter view. Doctors can see which specialists a patient has visited, which tests have been ordered, and, crucially, how much the overall care might be costing the health care system … More important, the software uses the data to assemble a battery of daily checklists for physicians’ practices. These are a set of easy steps for the practice to take — call this patient, order this vaccine — to keep on top of patients’ care, and, in time, to reduce its cost.”

“Yet even though Aledade thinks of itself as a technology company, its doctors said its software is the least interesting thing it does … Aledade — which now operates in 15 states and has relationships with more than 1,200 doctors … It has hired a battalion of field coordinators who visit practices and offer in-depth training and advice.”


CVS vs. Walgreens: Health vs. Choice

The Wall Street Journal: “Meet the new CVS … Three years after eliminating tobacco products from its shelves and adding ‘health’ to its name, the company is taking more steps and moving most junk food away from the storefront, banning sales of low-protection sunscreens and eliminating foods containing artificial trans-fats. The changes are part of CVS’s effort to stand apart from rivals by focusing on health-care goods and services … It puts the company on a different path than its main competitor.”

“Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. says it isn’t a retailer’s job to keep shoppers from their vices … But like CVS, it is trying to boost sales by appealing to a more health-conscious shopper. Walgreens sells cigarettes but offers smoking-cessation help in the form of specially trained pharmacists and quitting aids. It is keeping candy up front but has added fresh fruit and vegetables in other parts of the store. It also has a loyalty program that rewards shoppers with points for exercise and health monitoring that can be used on purchases.”

“CVS says it thinks consumers largely are seeking healthier options and won’t be deterred by the changes. It is gradually rolling out its new format; just four U.S. stores, including the one in North Arlington, have received the makeover so far. CVS plans to put the new format in several hundred of its 9,700 stores by 2018.”


Jig-Sawge: Hacking Saws for Massage

The Wall Street Journal: “The popularity of massage is rising along with the price of electric gadgets for it. So some do-it-yourself-ers are raiding garages and Home Depot and turning power tools into turbocharged robo-masseurs. Bill De Longis, head strength coach at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., uses a jigsaw—with a lacrosse ball pierced and epoxied to its business end—for limbering the limbs of the school’s varsity athletes. He calls it his ‘jig-sawge.’ He opted to hack the $60 saw after seeing a similar massage tool priced at $600.”

“The coach also has appropriated an orbital sander (with sandpaper removed) and a battery-powered car buffer, which Trinity’s baseball pitchers and women’s lacrosse team use to warm up. Using power tools for massage seems to have originated among weightlifters and other serious athletes. The idea spread on social media, and now power tools can be found everywhere from chiropractors’ offices to tie-dyed campouts.”

“Nova Han, artistic director for the Electric Forest music festival in Rothbury, Mich., equipped a 1940s Quonset hut-style space on the event’s grounds with massage tables. Last summer, staff members dressed like Rosie the Riveter and worked rotating shifts for 12 hours a day, giving short car-buffer massages to concertgoers.” Tim Perra of Stanley Black & Decker comments: “We do not condone, approve or recommend that our tools be used for any application beyond those for which the tool was designed and intended.”


Gummy Pills: Helps The Vitamins Go Down

The New York Times: One reason gummy vitamins are so popular with adults these days is “pill fatigue.” A 2005 AARP study found that, on average, adults 45 and older said they take four prescription medications daily. But some people say that switching to a gummy version of a vitamin or supplement makes them feel as if they aren’t taking so many pills. Gummies also appeal to people who … have difficulty swallowing pills. The flavorings in gummy candy can also hide the taste.”

“But the pleasures of chewing come at a cost. Consumers can take one Nature Made Vitamin C 1,000 milligram pill costing about 10 cents … To get the same amount of vitamin C from a Nature Made gummy vitamin, consumers would need to take eight gummies, at a cost of about 70 cents … And gummy vitamins typically contain one to two grams of sugar each.”

Susan Pica agrees. Ms. Pica, 40, … saw a gummy vitamin C display at CVS, along with a coupon to ‘buy one get one free.’ She had fond memories of the Flintstones chewables she took as a child, so she thought she’d try them … After seeing sugar sprinkled on the vitamins and settled at the bottom of the bottle, she checked the ingredients on the label. The bottle listed sugar, corn syrup and sodium citrate among the ingredients.”


Campbell’s ‘Habit’ Fuses Food & Technology

Philadelphia Business Journal: “Campbell’s Soup Co. has become the sole investor of a San Francisco-based company that combines nutrition, technology and food delivery into one bundle. The Camden-based food company is investing $32 million in Habit, a personalized nutrition company that will launch in 2017. The company develops nutrition recommendations based on a person’s biology, metabolism and personal goals, and it creates a so-called personal blueprint.”

“Habit then delivers customized meals to the person’s doorstep, and offers one-on-one wellness and nutrition coaching as well … Habit users are given an at-home test kit that measures more than 60 different biomarkers, including nutrition-related blood markers and genetic variations in DNA. Users also provide body metrics like body weight and height, as well as health goals. Habit then synthesizes the data to determine food and nutrients best suited for each individual.”

Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison comments: “The entire food industry is being transformed by the fusion of food, well-being and technology … Campbell’s investment is part of our broader efforts to define the future of food, which requires fresh thinking, new models of innovation, smart external development and venture investing to create an ecosystem of innovative partners.”