How can leaders improve company health?

Bruce BroussardIn a series of LinkedIn Influencer blog posts, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard shares insights and ideas about the future of health care and discusses the importance of working together to improve the health-care system as well as our own health and well-being. His latest — How can leaders improve company health? — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

Great health is hard, and achieving a holistic sense of well-being – with a balanced sense of purpose, health, belonging and security – can be difficult.

But my company is in the business of health, and we think our purpose includes leading by example to inspire positive change. In 2015, we announced our Bold Goal: improve the health of the communities we serve 20 percent by 2020. For our own employees, we set an even more ambitious goal – to meet that mark by the end of 2017.

To measure our progress, we use tools like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) population-health tool known as Healthy Days, which measures the number of physically and mentally Unhealthy Days a person has in a 30-day-timeframe.

So how are we doing?

By the end of last year, our employees had reduced their number of Unhealthy Days by 18 percent. Over the past five years, they were able to gain 1.8 million more Healthy Days in total, and I could not be more proud of them.

Our employees have fully embraced this journey, becoming deeply engaged and committed to fostering a culture of well-being, for ourselves and for our customers. What we’re learning can be applied to everyone we serve.

How can it help you?

Here are three fundamental principles that have helped us improve our community’s health (inside the company) and bring what we learn to our customers (outside the company):

1. Make it Personal: Help people know where they are in their journey, and meet them there.

Inside: People first need a realistic, accurate sense of their personal well-being in plain, empathetic language. Many of us tend to overestimate how well we are doing when it comes to our health, as long as we can still do the things we care about. People need a personalized starting point, and ways to track progress. Our annual health and well-being assessments help employees objectively see their current state and course, including strengths and specific barriers, and detail how these may compare to the broader population. In terms of health, they learn how specific behaviors in their lifestyle may be helping or hindering progress, and how their biometric results (like BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels) could indicate where to focus.

Empowered with this understanding, employees can then receive personalized guidance on their best next step to start or sustain their journey of better health. As we detailed in our 2018 Bold Goal Progress Report, “despite aging five years, 63 percent of employees reduced or maintained biometric health risks associated with chronic disease, reversing the expected trend.”

Outside: At Humana, we serve more than 3.3 million Medicare Advantage members, the majority of whom are living with multiple chronic conditions. Along with those relationships comes a great amount of data offering deep insights into people’s health. By applying deep analytics, that information is brought to individuals, their physicians, and Humana teammates who can help them improve their mental and physical health. It all starts with an accurate understanding of their health, a starting point, where you can identify gaps and solutions in a highly personalized way.

2. Make it Easy: Keep people engaged through customized and caring interactions.

Inside: No successful health journey is a solo effort. Experiences that deliver tailored help through the influence and support of others make positive changes much easier. In a working-age population, these often should focus on preventing the onset or progression of chronic disease, plus strengthening emotional resilience and other whole-person aspects of health. Our employees can work with a health and well-being coach to develop a plan and learn how to make specific life changes that stick.

Likewise, sitting too much at work is a challenge for all of us. Combined with unhealthy eating habits, the risk of diabetes is something we need to address, especially since nine out of 10 diabetes cases can be prevented with proactive engagement. If you have employees who are at risk for diabetes, reaching them with opportunities for prevention makes good sense. Thousands of our employees have positively responded to customized programs, such as digital and onsite group diabetes prevention programs that also include coaching and caring supports from their peers. Meet your employees where they are with customized programs.

Outside: High-impact interactions can help people slow the progression of chronic diseases. The fundamental opportunity here is the power of prevention and engagement to alter health destinies in people’s lives. Through telephonic or in-person relationships with clinicians, health coaches and other teammates, our members get engaged in clinical programs that make their road to better health easier, even if managing multiple chronic diseases. When our members welcome a nurse into their homes, for example, they are interacting where health happens most.

3. Make it Affordable: People must have access to high-value services that matter.

Inside: Financial concerns are a leading source of stress in many workplace employee surveys across America. Moreover, employees may defer or avoid the care they need to prevent or treat illness if faced with significant financial constraints. We have made a concentrated effort to remove key financial barriers to health. For example, we made a whole suite of preventive medications available at no cost to our employees, treating everything from cardiovascular problems to diabetes. Not only have burdens been eased, but successful adherence to these medicines – so important to condition management – has increased significantly.

Likewise, affordable, preventive services and physician office visits were made available. We leveraged our onsite care facilities and supported visits to primary care physicians, and we continue providing health and well-being coaching and other lifestyle health improvement programs at no cost.

Outside: In our Medicare Advantage membership, affordability is key. Value-based care physicians are reimbursed more, based on the health of the patients they serve, rather than the services they deliver. Everyone wins when better health happens. Likewise, access to preventive services and ongoing primary care is encouraged so that out-of-pocket costs do not become a barrier.

What’s next?

As I said in our Bold Goal Progress Report, “positive change doesn’t happen overnight; it’s the result of strong collaboration, steadfast resolve and innovative thinking.” Results take time. We aim to reach our Bold Goal, and beyond.

We’ve all heard that culture trumps strategy, and it’s true. Though we have a long way to go, our results are made possible by a culture based on inspiring health, thriving together and rethinking our routines.

I would encourage every organization to have a Bold Goal. Be audacious. Take risk. Go beyond the financials.

Your employees – and your customers – will be better for it.

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