Humana partnerships

With a mission to address significant health disparities and unsustainably high health care costs in the United States, the University of Houston has hired an accomplished physician and leader in medical education and health services research to direct the Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute. Dr. LeChauncy Woodard becomes the first director of the Humana Institute, which is committed to producing high-impact research that changes policy, innovative educational programs that prepare a new generation of health care providers and novel programs that support community transformation.

Woodard is a general internist and joins the UH College of Medicine after two decades at Baylor College of Medicine where she held several faculty positions in the departments of internal medicine, family and community medicine and more. She was also the director of the Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity because the unique partnership with Humana provides the foundation to unite the existing health disciplines at UH with the new College of Medicine which will enable our students to collaborate and lead integrated health care teams to increase the value and quality of care for patients,” said Woodard, whose vast research portfolio includes a focus on quality of care, treatment and prevention of chronic diseases, health disparities, and the interrelated social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health outcomes.

Woodard said she plans to harness UH’s research expertise and form cross-disciplinary teams to tackle the most pressing complex health care problems. “I’m particularly excited to work with the underserved communities of Houston because I grew up in one. I believe that if we take care of the sickest people then we can elevate the health of the entire population.”

Woodard grew up in the Acres Homes neighborhood of northwest Houston where poverty is high and access to health care is low. Her late father’s struggle with chronic illness fueled her passion for medicine and desire to improve health disparities.

“It really impacts the quality of life for the whole family and limits the things you’re able to do,” she said. “I look forward to contributing in a meaningful way to address this problem.”

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Woodard join the UH family to lead the Humana Institute,” said Tray Cockerell, Strategic Relationships, Office of the Chief Medical Officer at Humana. “Dr. Woodard’s background, experience and passion for improving the health of individuals and communities aligns perfectly with our mission. She also understands the importance of integrating the components of care delivery – medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work and other non-traditional components of the healthcare system – to achieve value in healthcare.  She will be an excellent director of the Humana Institute.”

Along with serving on the College of Medicine faculty in the Department of Health Systems and Population Health Sciences and the Department of Clinical Sciences, she will treat patients at Lone Star Circle of Care, the Federally Qualified Health Center in UH’s Health 2 building.

“Dr. Woodard is a compassionate and confident physician, educator and researcher with an impressive track record and even brighter future. She’s the perfect fit to lead the Humana Institute and our charge to transform the health care system,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding dean of the College of Medicine. “Her professional and personal experiences with health disparities and quality of care will ignite development of new health care models to make the system more effective, equitable and patient-centered.”

The Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute was launched in September 2018 with a $15 million gift from Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) to help defray start-up and operational costs for the College of Medicine, as well as fund endowed chairs at the colleges of nursing, pharmacy, social work, optometry and medicine. The College of Medicine is scheduled to admit thirty students in its inaugural class pending accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

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Imagine going to get your hair done and also being able to get your blood pressure checked at the same time at no extra cost. It is possible now at 15 salons and barbershops across Kansas City. The new “More Healthy Days” Barbershop and Beauty Salon Tour creates a one-stop shop for hair and health serving people living in Kansas City with limited access to care.  In partnership with the Black Health Care Coalition, Humana is tackling barriers to care like cost and accessibility at the local level. 

Earlier this month, Humana and the Black Health Care Coalition hosted a panel discussion and health screenings at Diana’s Hair Care and Styling in Kansas City. The discussion highlighted how meeting people where they are and leveraging relationships between stylists and customers encourages people to take steps toward better health.

“This initiative makes screening for a few common health issues — like high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension — accessible for anybody in the community,” said Marvin Hill, Corporate Communications Lead for Humana.  “Improving population health is a long-term investment, so partnering with local grass-roots organizations is essential.”

This effort is part of the Bold Goal initiative and brings healthcare to people who have not always had easy access in the past. It is a step toward addressing the significant health disparities that currently exist in minority populations. Each stop on the tour will provide free medical screening and wellness resources at participating salons in the area, including biometric testing, Parkinson’s screenings, social determinants of health screening, exercise classes and more.  Part of Humana’s Bold Goal is screening 1 million people by the end of 2019.

This arm of the “More Healthy Days” campaign will also address other social determinants of health, such as social isolation and food insecurity, which are associated with adverse health outcomes. Click here to view the list of participating barber shop and beauty salon locations.

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A group of physicians and healthcare leaders at a recent event convened by Humana aimed to to understand what the medical practitioner’s role should be in addressing food insecurity as part of improving patient outcomes. This article appeared in Healthcare Innovation.

By Drs. Toyin Ajayi and Andrew Renda

It’s an unfortunate truth that in our current healthcare system, too-short, too-packed appointments often mean that providers do not have time to understand all that is going on with their patients beyond the walls of their practices.While the treatments we prescribe address their physical symptoms, we know little about the social, economic and environmental challenges our patients face that impede their health. These social determinants of health (SDoH)—like reliable transportation, nutritious food, stable housing, community and human connection—are critical to health and well-being. Yet, the way that medicine is still widely practiced, especially in lower-income communities, is extremely costly, fragmented, and fails to produce the health outcomes and cost efficiencies we all want.

One of the most prevalent and harmful barriers to good health is lack of access to enough nutritious food. Food insecurity leads to higher rates of chronic disease, emergency department visits and hospitalizations, driving $77.5 billion in related healthcare costs. We cannot expect to improve health and reduce costs if we do not first ensure that patients eat well. This is no small issue: adults experiencing poverty, who presumably lack consistent healthful food, have a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, disability—even premature mortality.

So why is food insecurity not considered a clinical gap in care? Shouldn’t all providers have a responsibility to diagnose social determinants of health, as they would other medical conditions?

These were the questions posed to a group of physicians and healthcare leaders at a recent TEDMED event convened by Humana, aiming to understand what the medical practitioner’s role should be in addressing food insecurity as part of improving patient outcomes.

This will require a major restructuring of the roles and responsibilities of healthcare providers. Beyond that, we need to implement interventions using technology platforms, validated screening tools and referral sources, as well as new code sets and payment models, to enable physicians to make it standard practice.

How do we make this work?

Community provider-driven care teams. For physicians to feasibly address SDoH requires a significant shift to a team-based approach that reaches well beyond the walls of the medical practice and into the communities where patients live.

This team-based, flexible approach is the foundation that Cityblock Health is built on. Multidisciplinary care teams are led by Community Health Partners – individuals from within the community who understand the experiences of people living there. Community Health Partners meet members where they are, taking time to understand what is going on in patients’ lives and connecting them to the right resources. They enhance the clinical team’s understanding of members’ realities and design interventions for their specific needs. Team-based models necessitate a significant role change for physicians, one that embraces working closely with non-medical, community-based partners.

Value-based care. Few reimbursement systems are currently set up to adequately pay medical practices for time and resources spent treating social determinants of health like food insecurity. Value-based models, where reimbursements depend on patient outcomes, encourage and allow room for care teams to address all aspects of health—from medical and behavioral health conditions to social needs— as equally critical in every patient’s care.

In value-based care models, we then need to develop clear measures tied to addressing social determinants of health and their impact on outcomes.

Evidence and outcomes. Currently, there is limited evidence of which approaches are most effective at improving health outcomes and providing a return on investment. However, one example showing real benefits are medically-tailored, home delivered meal programs for the elderly. These programs have been shown to improve clinical outcomes including blood pressure and diabetes control, and help to curtail emergency department visits and inpatient admissions for adults who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.

It’s critical we establish methods and metrics to expand evidence-based programs and measure various approaches that address SDoH. As part of that effort, Humana is currently working with the National Quality Forum to define quality measures around food insecurity. This will enable us to standardize benchmark measurements and expectations to help physicians effectively address food insecurity; and to incentivize and reward based on validated measures tied to patient outcomes.

We’re in the early stages, but there is growing momentum for treating these issues as clinical gaps in care. To make real progress toward that end, decision-makers across healthcare—from policymakers to health plan and health system executives— will need to align on a shared vision and efforts to address patients’ comprehensive health and social needs. Physicians alone cannot cure food insecurity; but we can be powerful partners in holistically addressing the needs of our patients and communities.

Toyin Ajayi, M.D., is the chief health officer at Cityblock Health and Andrew Renda, M.D., is the corporate strategy director, population health, at Humana.

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Technology helps people reach out to and connect with friends, families and loved ones. Sometimes, a text message or an email from someone special can turn a bad day into an amazing one.

That’s the idea behind Senior Planet San Antonio, specially designed classes developed by OATS and funded by a Humana Foundation grant. By helping seniors learn to use technology to connect with others, it’s possible to change the way people age by addressing social isolation and loneliness, two key social determinants of health. And, by learning a new skill, participants often feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Watch this video and get to know Guadalupe and Gary, two seniors who take Senior Planet San Antonio classes.  Their stories are part of Humana’s 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report and examples of the many ways Humana is inspiring health and well-being.

As Gary says, “I’m enjoying things as good as I ever have in my entire life – just because of knowing a little bit about computers and cell phones.”

Together, Humana, the Humana Foundation and OATS are helping San Antonio seniors stay connected to their families, friends and communities and lead their best lives.

For more information on Humana’s CSR efforts, read the 2018 CSR Report.

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The Humana Foundation, philanthropic arm of Humana Inc. for the past 38 years, is awarding more than $2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in Louisville as part of its ongoing Community Relations Program. The initiative began in 2018, when the foundation awarded $2.4 million to nonprofits that contribute to health and well-being in Humana’s corporate hometown.

Organizations receiving Community Relations funding in 2019 will address social determinants of health by providing critical safety net services and/or by making Louisville a more appealing place to live for all. These programs contribute to health and well-being in the Louisville area by focusing on healthcare services, nutrition and food security, personal safety and shelter, built or natural environments, arts and culture, and education and early childhood development.

“In 2018, we received applications for 170 programs in the Kentuckiana region and partnered with 32 organizations working to improve well-being for all,” said Walter D. Woods, CEO of the Humana Foundation. “This year, we are grateful we have the continuing opportunity to partner with the nonprofit community in making Louisville a better place to live. We believe it is our role to enhance the well-being of our community by supporting and encouraging collaboration in multiple sectors where leadership, culture and systems work together.”

With the 2019 grants, special consideration was given to applications:

  • Combining and integrating work in a partnership between two or more organizations.
  • Focusing on inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging in order to break down barriers that keep all citizens from engaging the services and opportunities Louisville has to offer.

One initiative receiving 2019 Community Relations funding from the Humana Foundation focuses on collaboration and partnership between local organizations. The University of Louisville and Interapt will share a $325,000 grant to address education, partnering to offer an intensive software development training program to historically marginalized adults in Louisville’s West End. Led by the UofL School of Business, the Louisville Skills program will improve the financial outcomes and personal and family trajectory of participants by preparing them for careers in the tech industry.

The following nonprofit organizations will also receive Community Relations funding from the Humana Foundation in grant amounts varying from $325,000 to $25,000:

Input from Humana’s Community Relations Program Advisory Committee, a diverse group of volunteers from Humana’s Network Resource Groups, and an online vote of Humana employees based in Louisville helped decide which organizations received 2019 funding.

Humana employees are also encouraged to support the Community Relations Program grant recipients through skills-based volunteerism. By putting their business skills to work for local organizations, Humana employees will be able to help increase local health and well-being.

Also as part of the 2019 Community Relations Program, the Humana Foundation is funding several other organizations, including Metro United Way and Fund for the Arts.

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