Humana displays technology — and a human touch — on World Diabetes Day

Humana hosted a World Diabetes Day event on Friday to show ways the company is innovating around diabetes care and talk about the progress made toward developing solutions.

The program — titled “Getting Real with Diabetes” — was an exercise in collaboration, bringing diabetes stakeholders together from across the company and beyond. There were panel discussions on using technology to fight diabetes, advice on leveraging the power of communities, and stories of success from Humana’s own associates.

Earlier in the day, research showed the success Humana and partner Omada Health have had with diabetes care. A related video highlighted the key points in real voices.

people listening to speaker
Chris Kay, Humana’s Chief Innovation Officer, kicked off the day’s events.

“Humana as an organization is dedicated to helping our members with diabetes, helping our associate population with diabetes,” said Chris Kay, Humana’s Chief Innovation Officer. “We’re looking at much more of a coordinated, collective model because there’s such power in that collaboration with customers, doing it together. This is an enterprise effort; Humana is showing up proud and strong on World Diabetes Day. We as an organization need to be proud, and continue to share our stories of success.

“Our strength is that we are focused on creating a great experience for the customer, even though we have a way to go. We’re not talking about our members in relation to what insurance plan they’re in; we’re talking about total health. That conversation, and how we think about the people we serve, is critical in our journey toward health. Our job is to help our members with chronic conditions – like diabetes – slow the progression of the disease.”

Kay kicked off the event by talking about Humana’s journey as a company in designing, testing and operationalizing health innovations around diabetes.

“We together can make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes,” he said. “We together can bend the trend on health. We’re inspired by the prospect of helping diabetics have a more healthy, wonderful day.”

Kay also talked about the need to truly listen to customers, empathizing with their needs and desires.

“If we’re going to be relevant to those we serve, we have to be tuned in to their needs,” he said. “We have to move from a transactional type of arrangement to being a health partner for life.”

A panel discussion followed, focused on using technology to fight diabetes. Speakers included:

• Sarah Ahmad, Vice President of Innovation at Humana
• Glen Tullman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Humana partner Livongo Health
• Mike Payne, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Medical Affairs at Humana partner Omada Health
• Dr. Rae Godsey, Regional Medical Director at Humana
• Paul Friedman, Vice President, Humana Enterprise Analytics and Architecture

Pattie Dale Tye, Kim Koebel and Kelly Mueller talked about the power of community.
Pattie Dale Tye, Kim Koebel and Kelly Mueller talked about the power of community.

The five talked about the scale of the diabetes problem and how technology can help. A key theme was the need to integrate technology with existing models of care, using each to enhance the strength of the other.

“It’s an exciting time for technology and health care,” Tullman said. “With Livongo, we’re empowering people to live better; we’re using technology to make their lives simpler. We want to use technology to help people spend less time on their disease. We hear from people who say ‘My disease is the least favorite part of my day.’ The key is using technology so we can be there when someone needs advice, help, coaching, support.”

Payne agreed, saying, “We’re a health care company first. Group-based clinical psychology has been working for decades” in homes, churches, schools, etc. “Omada was created to bring those group-based technologies out of those physical settings and into the virtual world. We’re putting those tools online.”

Ahmad made the point that resources like Omada and Livongo work

well with seniors, despite stereotypes that seniors would be intimidated by the tools. “We’re committed to finding the right solutions,” she said. “We need to get past the notion that seniors won’t use technology.”

Friedman added that the user experience needs to be seamless for everyone. “It’s not about the tech,” he said. “Technology works best when it’s almost invisible.”

Humana's Tim State talked about the health of Humana's associates.
Humana’s Tim State talked about the health of Humana’s associates.

Dr. Godsey talked about the importance of moving beyond proprietary notions of data. “We’re now at the point that we can share data,” she said. There’s been a lack of continuity of care. With quicker exchanges of data, we can fix that.”

Payne said, “Chronic care will bring all of the players together. It’s about data interoperability. We can now share data appropriately with other health care providers.”

Tullman returned to the idea of customer empathy, saying, “Consumers don’t want big data; they want simple, actionable solutions. They want small bites, personalized solutions. How do we deliver in real time the right information on whatever device or platform people are already using in their daily lives? Omada and Livongo enable other parts of the health care system by getting them the right information at the right time. It’s a blend of high-tech and high-touch.”

Key to all of this, however, is trust.

“You have to build trust with consumers,” Ahmad said. “If not, we will miss the boat. We have to make people understand that we’re in it for them. They have to trust us with their information.”

A second panel discussion focused on leveraging the power of communities to battle diabetes. The speakers were:

• Pattie Dale Tye, Humana Segment Vice President
• Kim Koebel, a Director in Humana Behavioral Health
• Kelly Mueller, with the American Diabetes Association

Activating an entire community, like Humana is doing in San Antonio, is no small task.

Numerous booths showed how Humana and its partners are fighting diabetes.
Numerous booths showed how Humana and its partners are fighting diabetes.

“You have to listen to the community members,” Tye said. “You have to find out what is getting in the way of their best health. You have to get out, be active, partner with the people who live there.”

Koebel agreed, saying, “People prefer community-based, group-based education. They want it local. We’re helping communities put together their own diabetes resource directories, and we’re talking to everyone – patients, doctors, etc.”

Mueller said the number one limiting factor in educating people about diabetes was “how do you convey a books-worth of knowledge in a 10-minute doctor interview? People know bits and pieces of information, but how do we enhance literacy. We have to get people information they can act upon.”

Tye talked about Humana’s partnership with the HEB supermarket chain in Texas and the success they’ve had in promoting fresh, vs canned and otherwise processed, food.

“There’s a dramatically lower opportunity to get diabetes when you eat fresh, eat at home,” she said.

Mueller said such partnerships are critical.

“Partnerships are not just a nice thing to have,” she said. “This is an important part of helping people manage their diabetes.”
Humana Enterprise Vice President Tim State closed out the discussions by talking about how Humana is approaching diabetes prevention with its own population.

“I can’t think of a more important challenge,” he said. “In 2020, half of us will be diabetic or pre-diabetic. There’s no better way for us to spend our time and energy than taking on this issue.”


Several hundred people walked through during the day.
Several hundred people walked through during the day.

A number of information booths were set up during the event to showcase Humana’s efforts:
1. A clinical analytics display shared basic facts about diabetes and showed the latest statistics and research


2. Humana’s Bold Goal was featured, explaining how the company wants every community it serves to be 20% healthier by 2020 because Humana makes it easy for people to achieve their best health. The goal centers around communities because the company recognizes that health care happens in the physician’s office and in the hospital, but health happens in the communities in which we live.

3. Omada shared details of its Prevent program, a 16-week online digital health program that coordinates everything people at risk for chronic disease need to embrace lasting change.

4. There was a finger prick station where attendees could complete a diabetes risk assessment.

5. Another booth showed how Humana has partnered with the American Diabetes Association to develop new consumer-facing standards of care and an education model to help people with diabetes learn self-management techniques.

6. Livongo was featured, showing how Humana is deploying Livongo’s connected glucometer and self-management platform to help people living with diabetes. Attendees could see how real-time feedback is changing management.

7. Humana’s Digital Experience Center talked about the revitalized MyHealth App, which includes new tools to help people track and manage their diabetes.

8. Users could check out the new My Diabetes Path digital footprint and interact with the site to see how the product has expanded to serve our members.

9. A display on complications and foot wounds showed what Humana is doing to help prevent foot wounds and amputations.

10. A Consumer Center showed how analytics and qualitative consumer research combine to expand our understanding of consumers’ experiences.

11. Humana associates were given a few minutes to complete a diabetes risk assessment and to find out about the support programs available to them.

Chris Kay signed off by saying, “If there’s one thing I’ve felt today and experienced today … is that this is a movement, and this is real. And what I’ve seen today is an enterprise conversation, a conversation across multiple teams inspired by wonderful, courageous associates and partners who are helping us deliver on our shared goal.”

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