senior health

Humana has ranked No. 2 in its industry – the company’s highest-ever ranking – in Fortune magazine’s 2018 listing of the World’s Best and Most Admired Companies. Humana was No. 3 last year in the category of Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care.

The Fortune annual ranking is the worldwide gold standard for the measurement of corporate reputation. Humana ranked No. 1 in the category of Social Responsibility, and also ranked high in areas such as Innovation and People Management.

To conduct the survey, Fortune and partner Korn Ferry started with about 1,500 candidates: the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue, along with non-U.S. companies in Fortune’s Global 500 database that have revenues of $10 billion or more. The list was pared to the highest-revenue companies in each industry, a total of 680 in 29 countries. The top-rated companies were picked from that list of 680.

To determine the best-regarded companies in 52 industries, Korn Ferry asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate enterprises in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value and quality of management and products to social responsibility and ability to attract talent. A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey to be listed.

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As the world’s population ages, and chronic conditions become epidemic, healthcare leaders around the world “must shift from reactive, episodic care to managing health holistically, where the focus is helping people change their lifestyles so they can live healthier lives,” Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard wrote in a World Economic Forum blog post.

Bruce’s blog, in advance of this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, noted that for decades health professionals have reacted to health problems, rather than addressing their causes.

“America’s costly, fragmented healthcare system, known for isolating and confusing people, is not sustainable in managing a growing population of ageing people living with chronic conditions,” he wrote.

“But it’s not just a US problem. The global population of the oldest seniors, 80 years of age or older, is expected to triple, to 446.6 million people, by 2050. Combined with the 50% of the world’s population that lives with chronic diseases today, this will certainly challenge healthcare systems around the world.

“Healthcare leaders worldwide must shift from reactive, episodic care to managing health holistically, where the focus is helping people change their lifestyles so they can live healthier lives.”

He offered suggestions to hasten change, from addressing the social determinants of health, to moving toward value-based care, to adopting interoperable workflows and systems. Together, such initiatives can slow chronic disease progression across the world.

Read the entire blog entry 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 — How seniors can beat “diseases” like loneliness and social isolation — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

Tivity Health, Inc. (NASQ: TVTY) Chief Executive Officer Donato J. Tramuto and I recently teamed up to draft the following blog post.

Health is personal. You might tell yourself that you alone have the power to make the lifestyle changes to eat better, exercise or meditate.

But getting healthy doesn’t have to be a solo act, because many of us face the same challenges. Individual resolve is important, but momentum is best maintained when we have a friend to encourage us to stay the course.

For many of us with active lives, it’s easy to find people like ourselves, whether it’s at work or through a social activity. But if you’re a senior who is lonely or socially isolated, it’s not easy to find encouragement and change your health.

Seniors face many health challenges that are not just medical

American seniors face significant health challenges. Many of them are living with multiple chronic conditions they may have for the rest of their lives, from diabetes to congestive heart failure. They may be on a fixed income, struggling to pay for prescription drugs.

Despite these challenges, there is also positive momentum in aging. Advances in science are helping America’s seniors live longer and stay active. For example, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention say life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years, and that could rise.

While seniors are living longer, there are other issues that can affect their health. For example, take the impact of loneliness on seniors. One study found that “loneliness has an equivalent risk factor to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, shortening one’s lifespan by eight years.” Research has also shown that social isolation can limit a senior’s ability to improve their health. For example, “6 million adults 65 and older have a disability that prevents them from leaving their homes without help.”

Living with chronic conditions is hard enough. When a senior does not have a support network of friends and family – people to socialize with and share common interests – the will to improve one’s health can be compromised.

As the leaders of Humana and Tivity Health, we’ve had decades of experience helping the senior community. We’ve found that the secret to improving their health is simplicity. It starts by offering them a platform to engage in activities that not only make them healthier, but help them connect with others.

Bringing people together helps improve health

At Humana, we’re helping more than 3.3 million Medicare Advantage members nationwide age with optimism, an approach that goes beyond conventional clinical treatments. Many of our members are living with chronic conditions, but they are more active than previous generations. For Tivity Health, which manages SilverSneakers®, we’re helping millions of people age into Medicare.

Our experience has taught us that social engagement leads to sustainable change. SilverSneakers® memberships, available through countless Medicare Advantage programs, give seniors access to a nationwide network of physical locations, as well as community centers, parks and social locations, where they can meet other people and engage in fitness classes specifically designed for their demographic. One survey found that “49% of active members said they were motivated to continue exercising because they had a friend in the program.”

And it’s more than just walking. SilverSneakers offers a wide variety of exercises and intensity levels, from dance classes to yoga sessions, as well as conventional cardio and weight-focused classes. SilverSneakers has entered into partnerships with more than 14,000 fitness locations nationwide as well as at Humana Guidance Centers. At Humana, SilverSneakers is included at no additional cost to the 3.3 million Humana MA members across the country.

SilverSneakers is a key element of many Humana Medicare Advantage plans because the proactive program takes a holistic approach to capture the senior’s complete health, not just the clinical.

In MA, we take a coordinated care approach, working side-by-side with providers who are in value-based reimbursement models with Humana. That means these providers are reimbursed for the health outcomes of our members (their patients), not just the services they provide. Programs like SilverSneakers perfectly align with the health-focused nature of Medicare Advantage.

Let’s learn from common purpose

The resolve to improve one’s health starts from within, but success requires perseverance and encouragement from friends and others who share the goals. Today, millions of seniors are not getting that support because they are socially isolated or lonely, and this has had a significant impact on their health.

Helping these seniors improve their health and well-being does not always have to start with a prescription or a visit to the doctor. Platforms such as SilverSneakers, supported through Medicare Advantage programs that emphasize health outcomes, can give seniors the social support they need and connect them with others who share a common purpose. This camaraderie ensures that seniors are not alone in their health journey.

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Food insecurity – a situation in which households lack access to enough nutritious food for a healthy, active life – has a significant impact on the health of many Americans.Across the nation, one in eight households (12.3 percent) is food insecure.

As part of its Bold Goal population health strategy, Humana is focused on addressing social determinants of health such as food insecurity and loneliness/social isolation. That’s why they partnered with Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief charity in the United States, to develop a toolkit to help health care professionals diagnose and address food insecurity in their patients.

“Our research shows that food insecurity is strongly tied to poor health outcomes, so it is vital that physician practices begin to address food insecurity in their patient populations in order to help patients best manage their health,” said Kim Prendergast, RD, MPP, Feeding America. “This toolkit provides important information about food insecurity and contains a road map for how clinicians can implement screening and referral practices into their own workflow. By working with community partners that are willing to assist patients toward better health, health care providers are better able to care for patients each time they come in for a visit.”

The toolkit is designed to:

  • Define food insecurity and its impact on health
  • Provide information on how to screen for food insecurity and have the associated dialogue with patients
  • Provide information on programs available to patients
  • Explain how to work with the local food bank and other community organizations, and how to provide a referral to patients
  • Show how to measure the success of food insecurity interventions

The combination of an unhealthy diet and food insecurity can lead to impaired growth in children, more chronic diseases for adults, higher healthcare costs and missed work days, leading to lower incomes. The toolkit notes that food insecurity is linked specifically to these health problems in adults:

  • Higher levels of chronic disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease (CHD), hepatitis, stroke, cancer, asthma, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Medication non-adherence
  • Poor diabetes self-management
  • Higher probability of mental health issues, such as depression
  • Higher rates of iron-deficient anemia• More hospitalizations and longer in-patient stays

As the trusted source of referrals to support good health, physicians and clinicians can help alleviate food insecurity and ensure holistic care.

With simple, validated screening questions, physicians and clinicians can add food insecurity to the clinical dialogue and refer those who need help to community resources. Known collectively as the Hunger Vital Sign™, these two questions enable clinicians to quickly assess the food needs of a patient and their household:

  • “Within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.” Was that often true, sometimes true, or never true for you/your household?
  •  “Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.” Was that often, sometimes, or never true for you/your household?

A response of “sometimes true” or “often true” to either or both questions should trigger a referral for food security support.

In addition, health professionals can use the responses to identify and address clinical problems rooted in food insecurity, such as spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure, depression and poor medication adherence.

For more information on Humana’s Bold Goal, click 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 — 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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