Humana moved a step closer to its goal of improving the physical and mental health of Baton Rouge residents 20 percent by 2020, with participants in Thursday’s clinical town hall making connections expected to help achieve those results.
Discussions touched on a number of topics, such as health care challenges like transportation to community resources and programs already available, said Dr. Laura Trunk, Humana Louisiana chief medical officer.
“Sometimes you have a lot of community resources,” Trunk said. “But knowing what’s available across the board and getting that connected, and (people) talking amongst themselves is one of the things that initiates in the clinical town hall.”
Lots of times efforts are fragmented, she said. By gathering health care providers, nonprofits, volunteers, community groups and officials, it’s possible to assemble a sort of road map of things like who has a diabetes program or how someone else handles transportation challenges.
More importantly, people who are working on the same problems or connected issues get to meet, exchange business cards and work together, Trunk said.
Baton Rouge and New Orleans are among the first half-dozen or so sites chosen for Humana’s Bold Moves market initiative. All of the cities have health issues. In Louisiana, chronic conditions, such as diabetes, account for roughly 70 percent of health care costs.
Humana is using the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s measurement of “healthy days” to assess improvements. Participants rate their health by answering four questions, including how many days the person’s physical health was not good during the past 30 days. Improving community health means lower health care costs for consumers and their employers, which equates to higher rates of productivity.
In San Antonio, Humana has launched pilot programs for diabetes education and healthy cooking; helping health plan members use their coverage to maximize their benefits for appointments, supplies and medications; and comply with recommended diabetes protocols, such as regular blood level testing and eye and foot exams.
At the Baton Rouge town hall, one of the more heavily discussed topics involved transportation challenges, such as getting to a health care provider, healthy options for food or a place to exercise, Trunk said.
“This is something where we’re thinking about the community holistically, and the challenges and the barriers are not just, ‘Well, they have diabetes so they need to do this,’ ” she said. “That’s a purely clinical type of approach.”
Part of Humana’s community initiative is identifying the challenges preventing people from being their healthiest, whether that’s getting a ride to a provider or not being able to walk because of bad sidewalks in a neighborhood, Trunk said. The issues have to be identified first before they can be addressed.
Humana is forming a Baton Rouge Health Advisory Board, whose members will come from attendees at the town hall and other interested groups. The board’s first meeting will be May 11, although the time and place haven’t been set.
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