Monday, May 16, 2011

Guest Commentary: Humana CEO Charts Course to Better Health Care

Patrick Monaghan
Director of Communications
Jefferson School of Population Health

Mike McCallister didn’t mince any words as he addressed the capacity crowd gathered on May 12 in Connelly Auditorium for the 20th Annual Dr. Raymond C. Grandon Lecture.

“We have an absolute disaster on our hands if we don’t address population health,” the Humana, Inc. chairman of the board and CEO noted. “If we don’t get ahead of this, we’re toast.”

McCallister’s talk, “A Roadmap to Creating a Real Health Care System,” touched on the unintended consequences of health reform; how real problems persist and are getting worse in the wake of reform, and how behavior change – one person at a time – can help fix our broken system. He dispelled a myth or two about what is driving health care costs (hint: it’s not insurance company profit margins), while pointing (poking?) a not-too-indirect finger at America’s collective midsection.

We’re simply not taking care of ourselves and are therefore becoming an obese nation, McCallister said, leading to diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

This came as no surprise to the health care professionals gathered for the lecture. What was surprising, perhaps, were a series of pilot programs put into place by Humana to address the issue within its own ranks. The goal is “to help people achieve lifelong well-being.” Based on some numbers disclosed by McCallister, it seems to be working at Humana.

The “Well-Being Pilots” introduced to Humana associates include:

• Personal Health Score:
- Purpose: Provide objective clinical data coupled with actionable information to drive health improvement
- Results: More than half (55%) of associates improved their individual score

• Personal Well-Being:
- Purpose: Improve participants’ sense of their own overall well-being
- Results: After five months, associates’ “thriving” self-assessment increased from 26%to 41% and “suffering” decreased from 10% to 6%

• The
- Purpose: Deliver a social, mobile and virtual weight loss pilot for associate participants who have a BMI ≥ 28 and a desire to adopt healthy behaviors
- Results: Total pounds lost for all members = 3,474.40 lbs.

• Win, Place, Show Me The Money:
- Purpose: To understand the efficacy of financial incentives in facilitating behavior change and healthy weight maintenance relative to weight loss over time
- Results: Total net weight loss across all participants = 8,657.81 lbs.

McCallister’s talk – and the pilots he outlined – received rave reviews from Thomas Jefferson University Panel Reactors Janice Burke, Rebecca Finley and Mary Schaal. They liked the idea of such programs, designed to “make healthy things fun and fun things healthy.” Such ideas need to take root across the country in order for real change to occur, noted Mary Schaal – a real health care revolution, if you will.

We’d all love to see the plan.

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