Innovation

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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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 — Want success? Be prepared to fail — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

“No pain, no gain” is a mantra for many people who exercise, motivating them to lose weight or get in shape.

Yet in other facets of our lives, we reflexively avoid pain, adversity and even uncertainty. A potential entrepreneur may hesitate to launch a startup because it could fail. A student may avoid law school for fear of the bar exam. Or a leader not open to new ideas could hinder a company’s ability to capitalize on opportunities.

It’s part of human nature to avoid pain. But pain, adversity and uncertainty, despite the hardships they bring, are where you can truly experience life. If you think about it, avoiding pain in its entirety can make you miss life’s real rewards.

Take the book “Principles,” by Ray Dalio. He’s the founder of Bridgewater Associates, a highly successful financial services firm. In the book, Dalio examines the concept of decision-making and provides a way for the reader to create a series of life principles and work principles. An underlying theme is our aversion to pain; Dalio advises us to embrace reality and deal with it, as opposed to ignoring it.

Dalio developed these principles after watching his startup business grow to 16 people and then shrink to one employee – himself. He had been “dead wrong” on a critical financial venture. Dalio realized that if he “was going to move forward without a high likelihood of getting whacked again, I would have to look at myself objectively and change.” Enter the concept of principles.

Here are three key takeaways from some of the principles in Dalio’s book and how his principles might not only help you, but also help change health care.

Be prepared to fail well. It’s good to fail. We’ve all done it. And if we learn from failure, better things will come from it. In Principles, Dalio writes:

“Everyone fails…The people I respect most are those who fail well. I respect them even more than those who succeed. That is because failing is a painful experience while succeeding is a joyous one, so it requires much more character to fail, change, and then succeed than to just succeed.”

In our careers, we tend to think failure can set us back years. Yet some of the greatest mistakes — from Steve Jobs being booted from Apple, the company he founded, to Thomas Edison’s 1,000 failed attempts to create the light bulb — paved the way for transformational success. Dalio says mistakes are “a natural part of the evolutionary process.”

So if failure knocks you down, like it has done for many of us, you’re certainly not down for the count. You have the choice to rise back up and get closer to success. In any career journey, Dalio writes, failures “can either be the impetus that fuels your personal evolution or they can ruin you, depending on how you react to them.”

Health care needs to fail like Thomas Edison failed. There have been many attempts to rein in health care costs. But focusing on costs won’t solve the core issue, because costs are a reflection of our society’s unhealthy lifestyles. I’ve seen that a broader approach, designed to help people change behaviors at all phases of life, will help bring down these rising costs. It’s not going to happen overnight for all of us, but if we keep at it and learn from our mistakes, it will.

Experience life by being less pain-averse. Failure can lead to pain, but if you can open yourself to more difficult situations, you’ll enhance your chances for long-term success. It’s important to realize that if you want to succeed, you have to be willing to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and you can do this by embracing difficult situations. The journey – good and bad and everything in between — is where life happens.

If you can move beyond being pain-averse and push ahead when things get difficult, you’ll be heading in the right direction. As Dalio says:

“Every time you confront something painful, you are at a potentially important juncture in your life—you have the opportunity to choose healthy and painful truth or unhealthy but comfortable delusion.”

Health care is changing, and change can be difficult. I’ve been in the health care industry for decades, and the industry is heavily focused on how new technologies, from blockchain to artificial intelligence, can deliver better patient care. Health care is also changing from episodic care to focusing on managing health holistically, recognizing the importance that lifestyle plays in overall health. Getting comfortable with these changes will almost certainly improve the lives of many people.

Be open-minded, radically open-minded. You can fail. You can make mistakes. But you need perspective, beyond your own, to make use of these experiences. Being open to diverse points of view can only make you better. You might have issues, as a leader, not knowing all the answers. Yet in my experience, I’ve seen that the best leaders are the ones who seek out fresh perspectives.

Dalio encourages radical open-mindedness and radical transparency, which are “invaluable for rapid learning and effective change…Being radically open-minded enhances the efficiency of those feedback loops, because it makes what you are doing, and why, so clear to yourself and others that there can’t be any misunderstandings.”

For example, take a look around your office. If you have diversity of thought, diversity of culture and diversity of males and females – but don’t have an inclusive environment where people feel welcome and safe to be their true selves – it will be difficult to create new ideas. Being open-minded and seeking alternative opinions is an important part of being a good executive, family member or community leader.

Health care does not have all the answers. Our industry has made tremendous advances, but to continue this momentum, we must look outside our industry for answers, starting first with the perspective and needs of health care consumers. The industry also needs to listen to and partner with physicians and clinicians, as they play the most critical role in improving patient health.

Health care is evolving. For the benefit of health care consumers, it’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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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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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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