Humana tests online chronic disease self-management program

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Humana Cares, the disease management division of Humana, have partnered in a pilot of Stanford University's online Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. This is the first time that a national insurer has used the Stanford program, which teaches people with long-term chronic conditions how to manage their own care.

However, the original version of the program, using workshops held in community settings such as churches, libraries, schools and hospitals, has been around for 20 years. A 1996 study of the program showed that it was beneficial to patients and achieved a 4:1 return on investment.

In the NCOA/Humana Cares pilot, 100 Humana members across the country will participate in interactive online workshops. They will learn how to better manage chronic conditions such as heart diseases, stroke, arthritis and diabetes.

The six-week workshops teach participants self-management skills, including proper diet, exercise, appropriate use of medications, symptom management and how to communicate with their doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

An earlier trial of the online program showed that, after six months, participants reported "significant improvements in their health, including increased energy, decreased disability, fewer hospitalizations, and better communication with their physicians," Jean Bisio, Humana Cares' president, said in a statement.

Humana Cares has launched the first of four workshops in the current pilot, which is expected to conclude by the end of this year.

Humana, which has a lot of Medicare Advantage members, has long focused on disease management and patient engagement in the care process. Recently, Humana Cares announced that it had give interactive remote monitoring devices to about 1,600 Medicare patients with congestive heart failure.

To learn more:
- read the Humana announcement
- see Stanford University's description of its original self-management program