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Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard has been offering his thoughts on LinkedIn in recent days, discussing everything from interoperability to the importance of leadership and trust.

He’s a frequent contributor, sharing insights and ideas about the future of health care and the importance of working together to improve the health-care system as well as our own health and well-being.

Read his latest posts here.

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Maria Hughes, Humana Senior Vice President and Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer, has been included on the Black Enterprise list of the 2019 Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity.

This prestigious list – featuring only 45 women – appears in the magazine’s First Quarter 2019 issue. Read more in this news release.

Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Enterprise, called the list an “exclusive roster of the highest-ranking, most influential African American female executives at some of the nation’s largest companies.”

He said it would be “an essential listing for our readers; one that identifies women who are vital to the management of major corporations, from marketing and talent development to procurement spending and financial performance.”

“We’re proud of Maria and her team and the way they cultivate our vibrant culture at Humana,” said Tim Huval, Chief Human Resources Officer. “Inclusion and Diversity drives innovation and thought leadership at our company, meaning everyone is encouraged to speak up and be heard. We reflect our communities, which allows us to connect with our members and provide the best care possible.”

Black Enterprise (BE) “is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers.”

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Look beyond sheer permission space and build the right culture

William Fleming, President, Healthcare Services at Humana, recently posted this blog on LinkedIn:

We all have an idea of what our specific roles are at work and how we should perform our jobs. We also know there are times when we see opportunities to do more – or better. Maybe it involves going out of the way for our customer, doing something atypical or beyond the scope of our routine duties. Perhaps it involves more time, expense, or engaging others outside of our primary work teams. It might even mean we make a decision outside of our normal purview. So, when these circumstances present themselves, do we forge ahead? Or, do we fear repercussions? Can we summon the right resources? Or do we stop short because it seems to be too much trouble, too complicated, or too risky to go the distance?

Ultimately, the answer lies in the type of culture we’ve established in our workplace, and it goes far beyond simple permission to act with autonomy. It’s a multi-layered approach that comes with time, continuous leadership support, and an organization’s transparent commitment to always do the right thing, even if there are short-term costs to get to the greater goal. Once you “get there,” though, your employees have what I like to call the “freedom to serve,” perhaps the pinnacle of a healthy service organization. To me, it means your employees, regardless of role, feel unfettered by red tape, doubt or fear and, instead, are empowered to take the reins and do well by doing good – serving their customers the way they are naturally impassioned to do. Here are some ingredients for making it happen.

Step 1: Encourage authenticity

At Humana, we’ve made great strides in the right direction, culturally speaking. Part of our journey has included the foundational idea of “bringing your whole self to work” – being comfortable in your own skin, as much in the workplace as in your personal life. It goes beyond simply knowing that it’s “okay” to come to work with different backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, but being proud of it, believing that your employer and colleagues relish such diversity. It means understanding that your work culture acknowledges the unequivocal value of having a robust and varied team that can relate to its robust and varied customer base. It also means you realize your company values your own health and well-being as a priority and wants you to feel good about who you are and what you do. It’s the first step, I think, in creating this safe environment where your employees can be authentic, feel appreciated, and start to feel free to work in their best capacity.

Step 2: Eliminate fear

This is not an easy task – this work of creating a sustainable safe environment. It’s easy to establish so many rules, processes, and guidelines – especially in a highly regulated industry like health care – that your employees worry about speaking up when they see a problem, have a suggestion, or want to step outside of bounds to do a better job. Keep in mind, we all come from the “real world.” We’ve likely been ostracized or reprimanded for standing out or standing up before – if not in a past job, maybe during our school years. So, there is a reason why we put up our guard and are skeptical of being open, forthcoming, and assertive in the face of potential judgment. That’s why it becomes imperative as leaders in an organization to show our own vulnerability, step outside of our own comfort zone, and repeatedly relay the benefits of innovative thinking and doing. Invest in efforts that show it’s okay to “test, fail, and scale.” Challenge the status quo. Or, as I often say, think like a rookie, asking the sometimes weird or uncomfortable questions. If your organization sees this as your leadership style, your employees will quickly get the message that sometimes real progress comes as the result of taking chances and abandoning fear.

Step 3: Champion the “changers”

If you want a culture of people who bring their authentic selves to work, do not operate in fear, and who feel free to fully serve others – including customers – you really have to acknowledge and support the bold ones who stick out their necks. Let me give you an example:

Recently, one of our Humana Pharmacy Solutions employees was talking to a Medicare member by phone. She found out that this member was not only struggling to pay his pharmacy bill but was also struggling to buy the right food for his diabetic condition. Knowing about Humana’s Bold Goal work (helping people whose health and well-being are jeopardized due to negative “social determinants of health,” such as food insecurity, loneliness and isolation), this employee took it upon herself to connect our member with another Humana team and with community resources, resulting in groceries being delivered to him that same day! The point here is that, had we not established a culture in which this employee felt the freedom to extend herself beyond her routine duties, this member may not have been helped in all the ways needed. She felt comfortable not only thinking outside of the box but finding and connecting to resources in a different part of the organization, while keeping the end goal – helping our member – her North Star.

The other key thing to note is that, after this story made the rounds, the Humana Pharmacy Solutions team decided to update their own workflows to better support our members in the future. Thus, if one of their telephonic service employees suspects a member may have needs beyond the original nature of their phone call, they now have a built-in green light to take more time on the call to connect them to the right resources.

Did the story die after this particular customer was helped and some process changes occurred? Not at all! Our CEO, Bruce Broussard, regularly shares this story. It’s been shared at leader meetings and on our Intranet. We also just did a podcast about it, while promoting it via our internal social network. Four months later, we are still championing the people and the proactivity, clearly expressing to others that this is part of our company values.

Set up the steps but, then, step out

Ultimately, you’ve hired a great workforce to do a variety of jobs, and you hired them because you trust that they have the skills and experience you need to provide high-quality service to your customers, growing your business along the way. Hopefully, you’ve also hired them because you trust their judgment and want them to be able to execute the best way they see fit. So while we have a responsibility to provide structure, steps, and guardrails to keep everyone focused and on track, we also have a responsibility to “get out of the way” and let our teams make real headway. Those who are on the front lines of care, especially in our industry, often know the customer the best. They listen day in and day out; they care for them day in and day out; they also have the quickest and easiest route to make a real difference in their lives – if we let them. So let’s let them!

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Louisville is among cities harnessing the collective power of community-based organizations, local government, and nonprofits to become a more equitable place where everyone can thrive.

Two Metro Louisville government leaders driving these efforts were guest speakers for Humana’s celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. This year’s theme: Unity in Community.

Maria Hughes, Humana SVP and Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, with Mayor Greg Fischer at the Lean Into Louisville kickoff event.

Kellie Watson, Louisville’s first Chief Equity Officer, and the Rev. Dr. Vincent James Sr., the city’s first Chief of Community Building, discussed the state of our nation and the city of Louisville. The speakers also highlighted Humana’s partnership with Lean Into Louisville, a city-wide effort that will provide an unprecedented series of presentations, conversations, activities, and art exhibits to explore and confront the city’s legacy of discrimination and inequality.

Ms. Watson provides strategic, visionary planning and oversight to advance racial equity throughout Louisville Metro Government. She oversees the Departments of Human Resources and the Human Relations Commission.

Watson is leading the city on an “equity journey,” joining national partners and other cities to learn how government can make a difference. A top goal: Rooting out structural racism, institutional racism, and implicit bias. This requires raising awareness, investing in marginalized communities, and helping people navigate difficult terrain together.

She shared a startling fact about how black income continues to lag behind white income: “Black wealth is at $5.04 for every $100 that a white family has. That’s $5 for every $100. Those are the inequities that government helps perpetuate that we need to fix.”

“How does government break down the institutional barriers around racism?” she asked. “How does government break down those systems that continue to perpetuate the barriers that keep people from reaching their full potential? And as we all know, government has perpetuated a lot of those barriers throughout history.”

“Governments,” she observed, “must be intentional about fixing such things.”

Each Louisville Metro Government department now has a “racial equity liaison.” These high-ranking leaders have authority to represent issues effectively within their areas.

To evaluate proposed policy changes, Ms. Watson and her team use a “racial equity toolkit.” It provides questions to help define desired outcomes, highlight relevant data, and identify community stakeholders so they are represented.

There were 8,500 victims of hate crimes in the United States in 2017. Ms. Watson gave a powerful, personal account of Louisville’s efforts to reduce these crimes, noting that recently she and her family have been victims.

Rev. James also spoke about being called to serve, saying he was horrified and inspired to act after a triple homicide near his church. He arrived at the scene to find two young people whom he had mentored among the dead.

“I said I never wanted to see another young person die in our streets,” he said. “I asked what would happen to them if I don’t help. I volunteered for everything.”

James left his corporate career to become Chief of Community Building. He focuses on the city’s comprehensive public safety strategy, supervising departments including the Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods, Public Health & Wellness, Youth Detention Services, the Louisville Zoo, and Parks & Recreation.

He serves as the Faith and Community Based Coordinator in the Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods, which works to address the root causes of violence through community engagement and programs such as Pivot to Peace and mentorship.

James is also pastor of Elim Baptist Church in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood, and he has been involved in multiple non-profit community-building initiatives.

He said the work that he, Watson, and Mayor Greg Fischer are doing is “helping us understand how we got here, that we didn’t just arrive at this point in time in our country, but it was through systems and government policies and individuals who wanted to keep things the way they were without allowing others to have full access to opportunities. Years and years of divesting from our communities have led to what we see.”

The goal, he said, is to bring equity to all communities.

“Why is it that if you lived in one zip code versus another, there is a 12-year lifespan gap?” he asked. “That’s injustice.”

“When you give people jobs and hope, and they have the opportunity to receive an education, it changes history. That’s the work that we’re in. We’re in the people-changing business.”

After a Q&A session with associates, Maria Hughes, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, closed the session with a quote from Dr. King: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Learn more about Lean Into Louisville. Learning opportunities will be available throughout Louisville.

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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 — Doing more with less: health care inspiration from the developing world — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

I had the opportunity to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It’s always an amazing experience to learn about new ideas in health and other societal matters from around the world. As a strong believer in the importance of lifelong learning, Davos is a place where there is always something new to learn.

This year what struck me the most was how innovators in underdeveloped countries are overcoming economic challenges and lack of infrastructure to meaningfully advance health care delivery. Despite limited resources, these people are providing ingenious solutions to health care issues, some of which have actually put their countries further along than the U.S. in scaling digital health solutions.

Here’s a quick recap of three meetings I had with individuals who are advancing health care delivery through innovative approaches that leverage a wide variety of care access points, mobile technologies, and less-specialized clinicians. These solutions transcend economic and infrastructure challenges.

 

Integrated training and technology, distributed access points, and unconventional providers can be brought together to improve access to care. At the top of this blog, you’ll see a photo of Dr. Dixon Chibanda and me. Dr. Chibanda is the founder of The Friendship Bench and a psychiatrist from Zimbabwe, and he is one of just 12 psychiatrists practicing in Zimbabwe, a country of over 16 million. He’s an amazing individual whose Friendship Bench provides a relaxed and natural setting where people can speak comfortably about what’s bothering them.

Dr. Chibanda shared that he uses grandmothers as providers, using mobile apps to teach them to provide basic mental health services. He said grandmothers bring a level of empathy to the process that has been instrumental in getting people to open up about their problems. This successful program is not just in Zimbabwe; it’s been launched in the United Kingdom and New York City.

Mobile apps and transportation are changing health care in Venezuela. We’re all sadly familiar with the crisis in Venezuela. But despite the challenges they face, Venezuelans are innovating around access to care.

I sat down with Dr. Andres Gonzalez, Director of Venemergencia, which provides telehealth and a unique form of house calls to enhance care. For example, Venemergencia’s doctors and nurses, with their diagnostic equipment, use mopeds to see their patients. Combined with a mobile app, patients can schedule appointments, and doctors are able to access patients’ medical records to provide personalized care. It’s a great example of boldly delivering care locally without the constraints of brick-and-mortar clinics.

Telehealth is transforming care delivery in challenging rural markets. Sangita Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals, is using technology to help people who live in rural parts of India and struggle to access care.

In 2018, she and her company facilitated 2.4 million telehealth visits in India and nine other countries in which Apollo operates. During my conversation with Sangita, she spoke to the benefits of telehealth as a means for specialists in metropolitan areas to connect with their patients living with complex diseases. Primary care physicians and nurses benefit as well, because the work advances their training.

 

As I reflected on these learnings, it reminded me of underdeveloped countries going directly to cellular telephone technology, skipping landline technology. I experienced this firsthand, as my father’s career began with AT&T, installing landline switches in those brown cement buildings located in every U.S. city. In the later stage of his career, he was installing cellular technology in underdeveloped countries that had no telecommunication, bypassing the less-agile and building-dependent landlines. Fast forward 20 years, and mobile has become the preferred technology.

Could this foreshadow the evolution of the traditional health care system, which is more institutional and expert-dependent, making it more difficult to access and more costly? The future system — with expanded access points through less-trained individuals aided by technology — will come, but it requires the current system to actively invest in the technology infrastructure, governments to change public policy, and companies to transition to new business models. I hope we will embrace the transition more quickly than we embraced the conversion from landlines to cellular service.

Access to care is a global issue, but solving it happens on a local level. A report from Oxfam found that “every day, 10,000 people die because they lack access to affordable healthcare.” Solving for this is a global imperative and especially hits home for those of us in the health care industry. It requires bold and innovative approaches that meet people where they are, ever mindful of the non-health challenges that impact their access to care.

I’d be interested in your thoughts. What assumptions about health care do we need to challenge? In your community, how are innovators helping to improve access to care?

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