Humana CEO Makes Case for Addressing SDoH, Investing in Home-Based Care

September 11, 2020 3 min read

Bruce Broussard joined Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) as its president and CEO in 2011. Since then, he has helped steer the Louisville, Kentucky-based company toward a future that’s largely focused on “the home” and social determinants of health (SDoH).

Humana has made several moves in those two areas, especially in recent years. They include its acquisitions of Kindred at Home and Curo Health Services, in addition to a lengthy list of pilot programs with innovative organizations such Papa, SilverSneakers and others.

Most recently, in July, Humana announced plans to invest $100 million in the at-home primary care startup Heal.

While investing around SDoH and the home has paid off for Humana generally, it has become a major advantage during the COVID-19 crisis. Broussard discussed how that decision-making paid off on Wednesday during the Aging Innovation Global Healthcare Summit.

“Having the foundation to be able to integrate social determinants of health into the operating aspects of our business — we’ve been working on that for a decade now,” Broussard said. “And that really proved itself out when the health care system shut down. People were isolated [inside] their homes, and there were a number of things that they needed just for basic health care.”

Some of those needs included food and prescription assistance, he said. Behavioral health support has also been a key service coordinated by Humana, particularly as the COVID-19 public health emergency has dragged on and individuals have been isolated for longer periods of time.

Moving forward, Humana plans to double down on its home-based care initiatives as consumer demand likely increases.

Shaping the future

There are three things that Broussard sees shaping the future of health care. The first is better incorporating social determinants of health into business models and paying closer attention to them, overall.

Currently, it’s relatively rare for hospitals and physician groups to screen for social determinants, past studies have found. That’s true despite the proven financial ROI linked to SDoH programs, not to mention the equally proven health outcomes SDoH programs have been shown to achieve.

Further committing to SDoH is something that even Humana needs to make meaningful strides in, Broussard said.

“To be frank with you, I think we’ve learned a lot, that our operating model can be better and can improve,” Broussard said. “And we’re spending a lot of time on being able to do that, all the way from technology investments, to analytics, to partnering with nonprofits to help scale that.”

Additionally, Humana is invested in removing some of the health care inequities that exist in the system for underserved or minority communities.

The COVID-19 crisis and some of the societal unrest of late has exacerbated those issues, Broussard said.

“We’re also finding in our research that there is an under-representative group of minority providers in the community — and that, too, has an impact,” Broussard said. “There’s a number of stories [that show] there are higher outcomes when someone is [being cared for] by someone of like culture.”

Finding ways to disrupt the current mold to address some of those inequities is part of Humana’s responsibility as a health care company and corporate citizen, he said.

For successful examples of groups that have accomplished that mission, Humana need only look to home-based care agencies. Dozens of home care providers are already tailoring their care and business strategies to best fit the needs of their clients’ ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

Meanwhile, Humana is also committed to technology and the ability to improve interoperability throughout the U.S. health care system. The need for technology to be integrated more deeply is best evidenced by the struggles with contract tracing in the country, according to Broussard.

Humana is banking on these trends improving the personalization of the care that is delivered to Americans.

“In-the-home treatment, less institutional [and] more ‘at the convenience of the individual’ is what we find to be important,” Broussard said. “If someone needs meals, you can deliver those meals, with [the right] prescriptions. And if someone is of a certain culture, you can match them with providers of the same type. So, the ability to use analytics and data to be able to then personalize the care and get the right care model for the right person in the right setting is also important.”

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