Bruce Broussard

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 — Who are the forgotten soldiers of health care? — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

If I were to ask you about the forgotten soldiers of health care, you might think about hard-working nurses and clinicians, or the ER staff that works diligently through the night. While these professions are absolutely critical to our nation’s health care system, my thoughts go closer to home, to family.

Think about how difficult it is to care for someone who is over 65 and needs assistance at home. Whether it’s managing multiple medications or monitoring blood-sugar levels, in-home care for an older person living with chronic conditions takes a team approach.

Primary care physicians can quarterback care and coordinate among specialists, and nurses can make sure care is efficient and consistent.

But beyond the traditional doctor/patient relationship, there is a forgotten soldier. This person is not a doctor or a nurse or a licensed care professional. Many times the person does not work in the health care industry. But they have the most unbreakable bond with the patient: They are family. That person is the caregiver.

And this was reinforced for me during a recent visit to Houston.

Meet “George”

While I was in Houston, I was fortunate enough to participate in an in-home visit with one of our members, “George.” I also met his wife, “Mary,” their daughter, “Beth,” and several members of George’s clinical team.

George is 71 years old and is in a Medicare Advantage PPO plan. He lives with multiple chronic conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertension, and he has undergone a coronary artery bypass.

Living with these multiple chronic conditions is not easy for George, and it also takes a toll on Mary and Beth. Treating these conditions requires a holistic approach.

For example, Humana and our partners — physicians, nurses and clinical care experts — help care for George in a number of ways. He receives occupational therapy to strengthen his upper extremities and fine motor muscles, and physical therapy, primarily for his lower extremities and gross motor muscles. Under the direction of a care professional, George also receives support for personal care and activities of daily living, like feeding, showering, dressing, etc.

The Sit Down

Both George’s nurse and his therapist led the visit. His wife and daughter were there, too.

From the start, it was evident that the nurse and therapist had a strong, personal bond with George, Mary and Beth. The nurse and therapist, both of whom I could see were an unofficial extension of the family, understood the critical care and emotional support that Mary and Beth provided to George.

At the end of the 30-minute visit, I asked George what was most important about the care he received. He said he appreciated help from people with a positive attitude; he liked the quality of the interaction and not being “rushed;” and he noted the dependability of the team members, who always show up and follow through.

The care team benefitted too, enhancing their already deep, holistic understanding of George and reinforcing the bond of trust. It was clear to me that this care team – family and clinical – had been making a difference in George’s life, and that he was thankful.

The Importance of Caregivers

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize the critical care provided by approximately 43.5 million caregivers. Their work had an estimated economic value of $470 billion in unpaid services in 2013. And with the senior population growing, many of us are going to find ourselves in the shoes of Mary and Beth – as caregivers.

These forgotten soldiers of health care will help determine how well America copes with the rising tide of chronic conditions. I’m encouraged, having seen firsthand how Humana’s Caregivers Network Resource Group is providing resources for our employees caring for family members and other loved ones.

While George has a very strong clinical team and family support network, there are many members who are not as fortunate. They are socially isolated and don’t have family to turn to for care. Their children may live in different cities. They might not have close relatives or friends.

This is the challenge, and we must be prepared.

It’s only going to become more common

In the caregiving world, relationships matter. Technology can help, maybe by building caregiver networks to identify people who have the time to help. But it’s not going to change health.

Technology is not a substitute for trust between two people. Basic human interactions can’t be replaced with a robot, an app or some other form of technology. It’s the low-tech and human efforts that are most impactful.

Our front-line associates know they can have an impact on the health, well-being and experience of our members. They are in this together, and they know it takes a team built on trust, empathy and emotion to make life better.

Mary and Beth are the unsung heroes, the forgotten soldiers of health care. They have an amazing impact on the people they care for, and on our health care system. You may also get the call – as a wife, daughter, husband or son – to be a caregiver. We need to ensure that we’re all prepared to receive this call, and to act on it.

 

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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 — 3 observations from the hurricanes — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

The devastating hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico challenged our country in ways we have not seen since Katrina made landfall more than 12 years ago. The impacted areas are still rebuilding, and we’re still taking stock of the damage.

Florida and Texas, especially, are Humana country, and the latter is where I went to school years ago. More than 13,000 employees and one million customers were in the path of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. So, a few weeks ago, I went to Miami to understand firsthand the impact that these storms had on our employees, our customers and our operations.

I was proud of how our company responded to the hurricanes, from suspending prior authorizations and referrals to helping impacted members find out-of-network doctors and ensuring them network pricing. Several employees who are nurses volunteered for the state of Florida, which was experiencing a nursing shortage.

During my visit, I drove around with one of our local physician leaders, stopping by a number of Humana sites and the Red Cross. Some of my observations from the hurricanes:

 

Connectivity is everything – The American Red Cross is a great organization that’s served the needs of tens of millions of Americans. We drove to a shelter to talk with people and to see how they’re coping.

While the shelter reflected a wide variety of people from all walks of life, there was one thing in common: everyone was on their phone or tablet. I thought about the connectivity issues experienced during Hurricane Katrina, when smart phones did not exist, and realized that the connectivity apparent at just this one shelter showed how far we’ve come.

Food and water, or a charger? – Losing electricity after a hurricane always brings significant challenges. But the lack of mobile or Wi-Fi service appeared to be an even larger problem for some people, a testament to how dependent we are on our mobile devices.

One Miami employee spoke about how, in the past after a hurricane hit, neighbors would look for generators to keep refrigerators running. Today, it was more about charging our devices.

Think differently – Don’t let preconceived notions cloud your judgment. Many people do not see older Americans as avid users of technology, yet many members of this population have embraced their devices. For example, one Red Cross worker shared a story about her 93-year-old dad, who communicated with her via texting because he felt the phone was less dependable.

This story shows how society has changed and how hundreds of millions of Americans, regardless of age, depend on their mobile devices to stay connected, even during a time when some had lost their homes.

 

 

All these observations have a common element: collaboration. Red Cross workers and volunteers were collaborating to solve problems. Neighbors were collaborating to share essentials. The Red Cross worker and her father were collaborating to ensure he was safe and well.

But even with that progress, we’re not done yet. Humana has approximately 800 employees in Puerto Rico, serving more than 120,000 members, and it will be a long time before the island has a sense of normalcy.

The power of collaboration I witnessed during the hurricane recovery efforts is inspiring. I saw Americans of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds coming together to put the needs of others first.

The collaboration displayed after these storms shows that we can accomplish anything when we’re working together for a purpose bigger than ourselves.

 

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Humana’s President and CEO Bruce Broussard will discuss health care transformation and innovation at AHIP’s Medicare Conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

He’ll talk about the role health plans play in helping Medicare Advantage (MA) members achieve their best health, as well as offer his thoughts on the future of health care and the importance of integrated care.

He shared some of his thoughts ahead of the event, and you can read that Q&A here.

 

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Humana’s workplace well-being efforts top national rankingHumana has earned Gold status in the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index, placing the company’s comprehensive workplace health efforts among the best in the nation. The index scores companies in seven areas: leadership, engagement, programs, policies and environment, partnerships, communications, and reporting outcomes.

Humana focuses on whole-person well-being, aiming to improve every employee’s sense of purpose, health, belonging and security to build a thriving workforce over the long term. The company has seen positive trends, including:

  • Healthier Days: Humana’s employee population has seen an improvement in mental and physical health as measured by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy Days. The number of unhealthy days in a given 30-day period went from 5.6 in 2014 to 5.2 in 2016.
  • Declining risk: Employees with Humana since 2012 have fewer health risks on average than three years ago, with 7 out of 10 people either sustaining or improving their health risk profile. The percentage of employees who had elevated blood pressure declined by 33 percent from 2012 to 2016.
  •  Stress: Reported levels of elevated stress declined approximately 10 percent from 2015 to 2016, indicating increased resiliency in the employee population.
  •  Engagement: Humana has seen world-class employee engagement levels — in the top 10th percentile globally — for the past five years. Each of those years, a top driver most correlated with engagement has been the company’s commitment to employees’ well-being.
  •  Leader commitment: Approximately 9 out of 10 employees say Humana is committed to creating a work environment that contributes to their health and well-being.

The Workplace Health Achievement Index is a product of AHA’s CEO Roundtable, which includes Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard. The Roundtable is dedicated to gathering and sharing the best evidence-based approaches to workplace health to improve the well-being of our nation’s companies, their employees and communities.

Read the full news release here.

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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 — Success depends on more than time and money — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

Time and money. The drive to lower costs and outpace the competition is bigger than ever. No matter what industry you’re in, you feel it. Amazon is doing to retail what Henry Ford did to the buggy industry 120 years ago.

As business leaders, we’ve always prioritized time, financial performance, and quality, which many view as the three primary dimensions of business success. From time-to-market for new products to growth in revenues, businesses are measured by these fundamental results.

Time and money make you sharper; and they challenge us as leaders. Mastering them can make you stand out from the competition. As a leader, you’re out to grow your business and maximize the time spent doing so.

But those two dimensions can only do so much. What happens when prioritizing time and money comes at the expense of quality?

When quality loses

One tragic answer to this question was the 1986 Challenger space shuttle crash. After a thorough inquiry, investigators blamed the disaster on the failure of an O-ring designed to prevent hot gas from leaking through a joint in the solid rocket booster.

Some of the people who worked on the project said they knew in advance about the O-ring quality issue. But there was pressure to meet the launch date and stay within budget, and critics have argued that NASA lacked a culture that would have encouraged engineers to stop the production process and fix the O-ring problem.

The NASA example shows that a culture of hierarchy can make people feel uncomfortable raising concerns. But if there is a problem, shouldn’t the culture foster an environment to solve it?

People must feel like they have institutional support when they speak up about something wrong. In business, it’s imperative that companies develop and nurture a culture that encourages everyone to point out quality deficiencies.

The O-ring example shows that when you don’t have an environment that encourages personal accountability, you won’t promote enterprise-wide thinking. And the enterprise will suffer for it.

Be accountable

Too often, employees don’t speak up when they should or when they don’t feel there is a welcome environment for new ideas. There may be cultural or financial pressures. They may not want to jeopardize the results they’re being measured by, or they don’t want to slow down the team.

If you want to solve problems and achieve quality in your organization without sacrificing your financial responsibilities and your timelines, you need a culture where people feel empowered to speak up. Like the manufacturing industry of the twentieth century, where often a single factory worker could stop the assembly line, a culture must empower its employees to speak up and make sure a job is done right.

Going beyond your role

I recently sat down with my Chief Information Officer (CIO) to pose the question: what really determines quality?

His response was enlightening. He used the example of a software engineer who develops an app, makes sure it meets the specs, and delivers it to the team. But he noted that while the process delivered the app, the engineer has a responsibility to stay involved. What if the app doesn’t generate any momentum? What if hardly anyone uses it? The engineer must embrace personal accountability, which is getting people to use it. It’s not just about whether the engineer delivered the app to specs, but whether people used it and it was successful.

That’s not only personal accountability; it’s also creating an optimistic environment where employees are challenged to go beyond the status quo and drive quality into the organization.

The real world

My industry, health care, is under intense pressure to reduce costs and deliver even faster access to physicians and other care providers. Making the most of time and money are important, but in health care, success will be determined by the health of our nation, not just our individual enterprises.

Quality in health care means better clinical outcomes and a better physician/patient experience. Our accountability is to the consumers, providers, and partners who use our systems, not to the systems themselves. By creating a culture of empowerment, aligned around the health of the individual, our industry can help build a healthier country.

As a leader, you play a big role in setting the tone for a culture that embraces quality. Time and money will always bring pressure, but that third dimension – quality — is non-negotiable. Fostering personal accountability in your organization and promoting a culture that embraces quality and new ideas will benefit customers and create a more cohesive workforce unified around a common purpose. In the end, accountability won’t be an option. It will become a welcome obligation.

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