Humana’s work to address health-related social needs significantly accelerated in 2020 as it became evident our members were facing unprecedented circumstances.
While social distancing and other pandemic protocols affected us all, vulnerable older adults were among the hardest hit. Many of those members already faced daily physical, behavioral and social health challenges. They now had additional worries, including how to safely access food, medications and health care.
As you have seen in our 2021 Bold Goal Progress Report, Humana associates, along with our community-based organization partners, stepped up to the plate in a big way in 2020. We rethought routine and pivoted our operations not only to address pandemic-related clinical and social member needs, but also to support our healthcare provider partners, convene thought leaders to share lessons learned, and to put lasting population health analytic and programmatic infrastructure in place.
We learned a lot in 2020 – in particular, that an agile approach to testing social need solutions is necessary. And, we made a significant impact on thousands of members’ health. As we reflect on the past year and look to the future, we know further social need innovation and clinical integration into clinical models are vital to a sustainable healthcare system. We’ve seen proof that integration can work – even in the most trying of times.
Our longstanding commitment is to understand the social context in which people live and the personal challenges and barriers our members and patients experience in achieving their best health. We believe that by deepening our community partnerships and asking our members, in the most plain of terms, what they are struggling with, we will help to create the community fabric needed to support their very personal needs. This focus on understanding the root cause of health will help us to be more intentional around how we measure, how we think and how we talk about health equity and how, we as a company, stand up for continuing to do the right things for our members.
Humana’s future depends on scaling successful, proven social need interventions into sustainable program operations, health plan benefits, and value-based care provider collaborations – in the clinic, virtually, and at home. In our world, we call this operational maturity, but to a member, it is their expectation of excellence from us. When everyone involved in a member’s care puts them at the center, then we deliver a seamless experience that improves health outcomes and health-related quality of life.
Each of our Bold Goal communities has its own unique characteristics and needs. We collaborate with local community partners who share insight on their communities and best practices for addressing needs. By partnering with even more and varied organizations, we learn more, particularly as we consider disparities brought about by health inequities exacerbated by COVID-19.
Knowing that health disparities result from social, economic, and environmental disadvantages, we are studying root causes in order to inform innovative solutions.
Beginning this year, we’re studying and sharing racial and ethnic health disparities within Humana member populations. While this is just one lens on health disparities, it does bring to light opportunities to achieve health equity. When we marry this information with other demographic and socioeconomic data, even more opportunities will no doubt emerge.
It takes everyone at Humana, in collaboration with our partners, to understand the root causes of sub-optimal health outcomes – and to innovate, test and scale solutions. Bold Goal continues to guide Humana’s strategy to address social needs – and to improve the health of the people and communities we serve by making it easier for everyone to achieve their best health.
This transparency in work and service gets to the heart of what we do and why we do it. We keep our focus on human care – caring for our members’ most important and unique needs – because it reminds us of our mission to support one another.
It’s hard to believe we’re entering the third decade of this century, but if the last 10 years have taught us anything, they’ve taught us how to be resilient and innovative while caring for the most vulnerable among us.
Chief Medical and Corporate Affairs Officer
Vice President, Bold Goal and Population Health Strategy