Humana sinks $15M into new University of Houston medical school focused on population health

Humana is backing a new medical school in Texas focused on training the next generation of physicians in population health.

The Louisville-based insurer is donating $15 million to the University of Houston as part of a 10-year partnership designed to educate future physicians on the importance of value-based care, health disparities, social determinants of health and community health.

The money will go toward the creation of the Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute at the University of Houston, which will encompass the new College of Medicine with existing nursing, pharmacy, social worth and optometry programs.

The new school, which has been in the planning stage for the last two years, is set to take on its inaugural class of students in 2020. Those first 30 students will attend tuition-free thanks to a $3 million anonymous gift.

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Humana’s partnership is more collaborative. The university approached Humana specifically given its focus on population health both as an insurer and a provider, according to UH College of Medicine’s vice president of medical affairs and founding dean, Stephen Spann, M.D.

“We want our graduates to not just think about a single patient, but a population of patients and how to provide high-quality care to them at an acceptable cost,” he told FierceHealthcare.

That focus is the backbone of what the university expects to be a modernized curriculum. And Humana will have a hand in shaping that with teaching opportunities for subject matter experts and creating value-based care labs for students and residents.

“This is an investment in the future of our healthcare system, which depends on clinical leaders who understand concepts like population health, the importance of social determinants of health and the need to emphasize value over the volume of healthcare services provided,” Humana Chief Medical Officer Roy Beveridge, M.D., said in a statement.

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The school’s other key focus: replenishing the primary care workforce. The College of Medicine plans to accept nearly 400 residents by 2025 and wants half of its graduates to go into primary care.  

“But we hope that all graduates, regardless of their specialty, will have a solid understanding of population health and how you provide care to populations of patients,” Spann said.