Driving Better Health Outcomes

by Andrew Renda, Humana’s Director of Bold Goal Measurement

Last week, I was invited to speak at MedCity’s patient engagement conference ENGAGE, where I had the opportunity to talk about Humana’s population health program.

Today in the U.S., we spend about $10,000 per person on healthcare, but we’re ranked 26th in the world in terms of life expectancy. Clearly, we’re not really getting value for our money.

We’re spending our money on sick care, hospital admissions, ER visits — pressing matters, absolutely, but things that could potentially be avoided if we invested in health first. What’s almost as important to note are all the things we’re not investing in — health, and what really helps to prevent disease. That includes everything from immunizations to ‘well’ visits to information on nutrition and exercise.

We’re trying to do things differently at Humana.

When our CEO, Bruce Broussard, announced our Bold Goal to improve the health of the communities that we serve 20 percent by 2020, we knew we had to think about the health of our members differently. We have to make sure we’re helping patients manage chronic conditions like diabetes, get support for mental illnesses like depression, and focus on preventing disease in the first place.

In order to construct a healthy environment, we’re partnering with communities to improve both the health of our members and the communities as a whole.

For example, if it comes down to a member being able to afford medication or being able to put food on the table for their family, we know our members will pick their families every time. This is why we’re partnering with local food banks to place representatives in physicians’ offices, to provide referrals for food-insecure patients. Or if our members aren’t able to get transportation to their doctor’s office, or can’t find affordable childcare during that time, they might put off the appointment. That’s why we’re partnering with outside organizations to help our members solve these problems and remove obstacles to getting the care they need. It’s just one of the many ways Humana is focusing on putting our members’ health first.

The fact is, people live their lives outside of the doctor’s office. We want to get everyone in the community together and really focus in on the two or three things we can do within a community that are going to positively impact not just individuals, but the community as a whole.

We use the “healthy days” metric — the measure of how many days a member self-reports being physically or mentally unhealthy in the past month — to gauge our progress in our Bold Goal. To increase the number of healthy days someone experiences, it isn’t enough for us to deliver traditional healthcare.

We’re going into our members’ communities and holding town halls; gathering hundreds of people together, from clinicians to faith leaders, to ask what can we do to make this community healthier? And oftentimes, these town halls result in guidance and information in how to handle that specific community’s healthcare that data alone can’t provide us.

In the last decade, Humana has really evolved into a population health leader. We’ve gone from just trying to keep people out of the hospital, to focusing on helping people who are already sick, to managing chronic diseases and preventing future health problems.

We really look at the member, the patient, and the community environment that they live in. We believe that if we focus on prevention, and focus on population health, we can improve the health outcomes of both patients and their communities.

To me, the triple aim is driving better health outcomes, driving better clinical outcomes, and driving business performance while we do it. Through the Bold Goal I think we can do all three of those things, because we’re looking at solving health and health barrier challenges by convening community partners and collaboratively creating solutions. At the end of the day, we want to give community members more Healthy Days!

I love working on these issues at Humana, because we’re focusing on what matters to patients, and what will actually make them healthier.

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