Humana: 'Healthy days' up across all Medicare Advantage markets for first time

Humana saw the number of “healthy days” increase across all its Medicare Advantage (MA) markets last year, according to new data released by the insurer.

This marks the first time Humana’s seen such a result since it began tracking the metric as part of its Bold Goal initiative in 2015. Overall, Humana’s MA members saw 816,000 more healthy days than they would have without the program, according to the report.

“Healthy days” is a population health metric developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that measures quality of life. Members are surveyed on their physical and behavioral health to track their quality of life long-term.

Humana tracks “healthy days” in Bold Goal-designated markets, of which there are 16 nationwide, as well as in its broader MA membership.

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Andrew Renda, M.D., associate vice president of population health at Humana, told Fierce Healthcare that the team is pleased to see the improvements in Bold Goal communities bleeding into other markets.

He said that while the decline in unhealthy days overall seems small—Humana found average reported unhealthy days decreased from 13.44 to 13.42 in 2019—when it’s extrapolated over a population the size of Humana’s membership, it’s a significant difference.

“That's really what population health is about—small, incremental changes that really make massive differences when you look at it at the population level,” Renda said.

Humana also significantly surpassed its 2019 goal in screenings for social needs. The insurer set a goal of 1 million screenings last year and instead recorded 2.6 million, according to the report.

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Caraline Coats, vice president of Bold Goal and population health strategy, told Fierce Healthcare that required buy-in both from external partners and from the team internally to achieve.

It also required thinking beyond the doctor’s office to meet members’ needs, she said.

“Understanding the social health needs of our members doesn’t just happen in the provider office—most often it doesn’t happen in the provider office,” she said. “So, it’s really important to meet the member where they are.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also put a spotlight on how critical the population health initiatives built into the Bold Goal are, as it is having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable communities.

Renda said that while the data collected from social determinants screenings are from last year, the information provided a baseline for ramping up programs targeting social needs such as an effort to distribute meal kits, through which Humana is now providing 2,000 kits per day.

He said conversations with members during the pandemic have consistently centered around these concerns.

“When COVID hit, all of those needs that already existed, they were exacerbated,” he said.