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Behavior Change
Humana Addressing Social Determinants of Health through Bold Goals, Community Investments

2017 was a particularly challenging year for health in the United States. The annual Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index showed that 21 states saw “declines in social, emotional and psychological health.” It stands to reason that people increasingly expect companies to act on social and environmental issues, including the health of their communities.

Luckily, leading brands are listening. For example, back in October, several members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) launched the One for Good campaign to support community members in adopting healthier diets and lifestyles, while CVS Health introduced a new prescription management system including new vial labels to help improve medication adherence.

Care delivery and health insurance provider Humana is among those achieving success. Its recently released 2018 Bold Goal Report details its progress to date against its ’Bold Goal’ commitment to make the communities it serves 20 percent healthier by 2020. Among its achievements, Humana’s employees and four of the seven Bold Goal communities demonstrated improved ‘Healthy Days.’

Healthy Days are how the company measures mental and physical well-being amongst Humana members. Essentially it captures survey respondents’ answers to two questions:

  1. Thinking about your physical health, which includes physical illness and injury, for how many days during the past 30 days was your physical health not good?
  2. Thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?

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Humana employees were able to gain 1.8 million more Healthy Days in total over the past five years – an improvement of 18% over the 2012 baseline. Humana attributes this in part to an aligned sense of purpose; 87% of employees surveyed reported being inspired by the Bold Goal, and in Bold Goal communities, employees show higher rates of volunteerism, engagement and retention.

The number of Healthy Days also increased, on average, among members in Bold Goal communities. Knoxville, TN, Baton Rouge, LA, New Orleans, LA, and San Antonio, TX all had improved Healthy Days as well as improved clinical outcomes. Humana attributes this, in part, to strong relationships between physicians, communities and patients, and noted that NGOs, physicians, clinicians and government and business leaders in Bold Goal communities have played critical roles in improving health.

The company hopes to continue to make progress in all of its Bold Goal communities through a “localized, holistic and integrated approach to physical and mental health centered on the individual and designed to address social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health can include how food insecurity, social isolation, loneliness, health literacy, transportation, and more can greatly impact a person’s ability to improve their health. Seniors are one focus demographic for Humana right now.

“As the nation’s senior population grows, they’ll play a larger and more vital role in all of our communities,” said Bruce D. Broussard, Humana’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Seniors face unique challenges, including living with multiple chronic conditions and social determinants that can lead to poor health. Learning to solve these issues will help all of us. By slowing chronic disease progression through a holistic approach to personalized care, we can help physicians and other care professionals provide care that helps seniors prosper – physically and mentally.”

Today, one in eight Americans is food insecure, and seniors who are food insecure have 50 percent higher prevalence of diabetes and three times higher rates of depression. Further, seniors who are socially isolated or lonely are 3.4 times more likely to suffer depression. Seniors living in Bold Goal communities continued to make improvements in physical and mental health in 2017, despite that non-Bold Goal markets saw declines.

“Many seniors today are living with multiple chronic conditions, which challenge their ability to easily make lifestyle changes,” said Roy A. Beveridge, M.D., Humana’s Chief Medical Officer. “If we want to empower all seniors to change these behaviors so they can improve their health and slow disease progression, we must meet them where they live. Health is local, and we need to address the social determinants that are not only impacting them, but their children and grandchildren.”

In addition to its focus on seniors, Humana is addressing social determinants of health in its Bold Goal communities via collaborative efforts with physicians and community partners. The initiatives are based on the communities’ local needs.

To that effect, The Humana Foundation announced that it will invest $6.5 million in nonprofit organizations operating in eight communities, including the four previously mentioned (Knoxville, TN, Baton Rouge, LA, New Orleans, LA, and San Antonio, TX) plus Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Broward County, FLA, and Humana’s headquarters hometown of Louisville, KY. Each investment will be no smaller than $500,000.

“With these major investments, we intend to target community models that can be scaled for maximum impact, focused on the broader gains that will result from the achievements our partner organizations will be able to make. And they’ll need to clearly demonstrate that by detailing targets and milestones as part of the application process,” said Walter Woods, CEO of the Humana Foundation.

Organizations that receive a Humana Foundation Strategic Community Investment in 2018 will then have an opportunity to receive continuing funding for one or two additional years – based on the specific results they achieve over a 12-month period.


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