Can Apple Watch and Other Wearables Improve Health of Sickest?

BB blog March

Bruce_Broussard_MEDIres.jpg WIn a series of LinkedIn Influencer blog posts, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard shares insights and ideas about the future of health care and discusses the importance of working together to improve the health-care system as well as our own health and well-being. His topics range from the powerful potential of technology to the issue of loneliness. His latest, Can Apple Watch and Other Wearables Improve Health of Sickest?, is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

The year of the wearable device is underway. By 2019, there could be more than half a billion wearables in use every day.

I’m asked all the time about the wearable device impact on health – do they really help people lose weight? What do you use? What are they missing when it comes to monitoring health? What will they look like in five years? Who will have a bigger impact on health – Google or Apple? When will devices be implanted into the body? There is no shortage of questions or opinions on the topic but one thing is certain: wearables will disrupt how we manage our health.

At Humana, we’ve been able to extrapolate data from these wearables devices to help our members improve their health. HumanaVitality, our wellness rewards program, collects data through the many devices with which it integrates and uses it in three critical ways. Most importantly, the data is presented to members in a simple, easy-to-interpret manner through the HumanaVitality app, webpage or through the Apple HealthKit to help them track progress along their path to health.

As a data-driven and highly measurable program HumanaVitality also uses collected data to reward members for reaching daily activity goals such as walking 10,000 steps.  Finally, we also provide employers with aggregated, privacy-protected data and analysis for the purpose of optimizing their wellness program.

While many of these wearables today focus on activity tracking and may not be ready to disrupt today, the trends are where the tide is.

It’s Booming in Fitness

Take a stroll into any big box retailer – Best Buy, Dick’s or Sports Authority – and you’ll find an entire section or small aisle dedicated to wearable devices, aka activity trackers. Fitbit is encouraging people to “find their fit” across different sports; Samsung is already off to the races with its wearable offerings. And it goes without saying that we should always keep an eye on Google.

Recently, Apple showcased some unique aspects of Apple Watch and has already made waves with its Health Kit app. While we’ve been pleased with how our members have used our HumanaVitality app for HealthKit, we’re now working on an app for the Apple Watch.

Helping people start to easily measure their health while they’re young, active and motivated to stay in shape is essential in turning the tide of obesity. If healthy tracking becomes part of their lifestyle today, it will stay with them well into the future. Understanding how they consume information differently from other groups – through the power of data analytics – will be essential in how they use wearables to improve their health.

But let’s be honest. Convincing weekend warriors who train for marathons, triathlons and other sports to spend a few hundred dollars – or more – on the latest and greatest wearable device is easy. The sales projections speak for themselves.

These people – myself included – take their fitness very seriously. They’re already in good shape and are looking for how new wearables can help them better measure their performance and gain that extra edge.

Progress is Taking Place

I’ve seen these fitness devices time and again help with behavioral changes and I blogged about my own experience last year. When you know your numbers, whether it’s from a Fitbit or another activity tracker, it pushes you to be more active and change your not-so-good behaviors. Companies like Fitbit and others have encouraged step challenges, using social platforms to encourage active users to compete to see who takes the most steps in a day or a week.

Helping people establish an active, healthy lifestyle when they’re young – and are being introduced to the sedentary environment of an office – is important. You don’t need a wearable on your wrist to know that your body was not designed to sit eight hours a day. Even weekend warriors are not immune to the “sitting is the new cancer” concept that Apple CEO Tim Cook reminded everyone of recently and how they hope to address this problem with Apple Watch.

Wearable devices that primarily track steps today will evolve to help people in ways we haven’t even seen yet. But making an impact on health goes well beyond fitness communities. It starts in the homes of people who – one might argue – need the technology more than these other communities.

The Real Opportunity

This raises a question: Is enough attention being paid to the market where these types of devices can make a real impact in the health of consumers?

A few months ago, J.C. Herz wrote an insightful column about the audiences that really needed to benefit from wearable devices: older people living with chronic conditions who have limited financial means. It’s a very rational argument, when you consider that the majority of dollars spent on health care are related to chronic conditions.

Many of these people – quite a few of them are our members – are seniors living with multiple chronic conditions and are confined to their homes. They don’t get out much and when they do, their movements are few. It’s not easy for them to move from one room to another let alone walk around the block. When it comes to their health, these people are primarily concerned with not having a fall so they can stay in their homes and out of a hospital. And their families and caregivers deserve a means to stay connected to them.

But, like their younger family members who care for them, seniors want to achieve their best health. While a fitness tracker does not provide the type of self-monitoring they need, devices that are easy to use that monitor their glucose levels; check their pulse and/or blood pressure; and determine how many times a day they access the bathroom can deliver a great value.

In other words, it’s not always about a device that a person wears on his or her wrist. Devices that take into account the “home” environment, as Nest is attempting to do with energy and AT&T with security, may be where the device can truly make an impact in health. Given that Nest is a motion sensor device, Nest and other devices can function in a way to help w/in the home health monitoring as well.

Making it Happen

So how can these devices help seniors living with chronic conditions? It starts with personal devices tracking vital signs and other forms of monitoring in their homes.

There has been solid momentum thus far. For example, NeuroMetrix’ Quell is a wearable device that’s designed to provide relief for chronic pain. At CES, Mobilehelp and Honeywell teamed up to showcase Mobile Vitals, a “small wearable device that provides long-term vitals monitoring.” Startups like Lively are extending monitoring to caregivers as well. Smart innovators like the ones above have put a stake in the ground to service the seniors with chronic conditions market.

(Innovation is likely to come from combining two or more things with seemingly divergent objectives to form a viable, innovation. For example, Apple combined two or three concepts, with the AppStore at the center to do something viewed as truly innovative. This is similar to what MobileHelp and Honeywell are trying to do with in home monitoring and security system monitoring.)

The potential health impact could be significant. For example, an easy-to-use heart monitor in the home of a senior could monitor beats per minute. If it gets out of that range, the heart monitor is securely integrated into the primary care physician’s network. The heart monitor notifies the physician of the irregularity. A scale could notify the primary care physician if the patient begins to experience significant weight gain or loss. The same would be done for blood pressure. When you collect the data from these wearable devices, you further augment the physician’s ability to use that data to identify and focus on the most meaningful needs. This enables the physician to apply what they learned at a moment of influence where they can make an impact on that person’s health.

As more devices are utilized, and these devices are integrated into the system, these examples will become more frequent.

Making a Difference

If devices can improve the health of the individuals who need it the most, there are five key areas they will need to address:

  • Capture the critical data – For many seniors with chronic conditions, health tracking starts where they spend the majority of their time: the home. Devices, wearable or home-based, that help these folks stay safe/avoid falls are critical in improving health. In addition, devices that monitor their movement, or lack thereof, and their blood pressure in real-time can enable their primary care physician to act. When it comes to data, we need security across the ecosystem; devices that are easy for these seniors to use; and data analytics to help these people achieve their best health.
  • Help physicians use the data – You can collect all the data in the world from these devices, but if primary care physicians can’t use the data to help their patients get healthy, it’s irrelevant. Real-time access of the data from the devices, whether they rest in the home or on a person’s wrist, is essential for helping physicians get people on the path to better health. This is data analytics in action and it’s used to deliver an easy-to-use experience.
  • Enable action in real-time – The more advanced the device and the more frequent data is collected, the more data there is to analyze. Time will always be of the essence. More timely and detailed personal data will be generated. The velocity of the data generated will be extreme, so it’s imperative that the data analytics capabilities are powerful enough to identify abnormal variables and these devices continue to be easy to use.
  • Empower self-care – Self-care for people through machine learning and language and artificial intelligence will also be incorporated into the devices, which will also generate a new tsunami of data. More active management of care that will enable self-care will also lead to more empowered consumers who will provide unique feedback that can usher in a new era of the quantified self. And as these devices create more data, we can use data analytics to help these people identify new ways to improve their health.
  • Engagement is essential – Lastly, the effectiveness of devices in the elderly population is similar in the younger group. If you want results, you need to have engagement; easy to use devices; and you need to meet people where their health is. Wearables/on home monitoring meets – and engages – the individual where they spend the most time. Without engagement you won’t get the change in behavior necessary to make a difference in one’s health. It’s more than just monitoring the elderly. Like the younger and the athletes, you need engagement and it starts by meeting people where their health is.

Let’s be clear: wearables or home devices themselves won’t save the world. It’s about using the device to identify gaps in care where a senior with a chronic condition is facing a health risk; integrating the data in real-time with the primary care physicians and nurses who can act; and helping these seniors feel more connected and safe in their homes as they manage their own health.

With the right integration with the person’s primary care physician; the widespread ease-of-use and adaptability are achieved, personal devices can help people in their health journeys get – or stay – on the right path.

We know it can help because we have seen it with our own Humana At Home members who have participated in pilot programs created through our partnerships with HealthSense and Pharos Innovations that use in-home monitoring devices to report changes in members’ normal patterns of movement and activity. The devices measure and report routine daily activities such as sleeping, eating and medication adherence. After establishing what is routine for an individual, passive monitoring can identify when a routine is disrupted. This can be a signal that a member may need assistance. As one of our members told us, the remote monitoring makes her feel safe and comfortable staying in her home because she knows the device will send an alert if she falls or doesn’t move for any length of time.

This technology also has the potential help patients self-report health information, such as blood sugar and blood pressure, to their physicians without leaving home. This closer connection provides a greater sense of security to the member and helps them live independently in their home instead of at a home or a hospital.

Looking Forward

Recently, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt talked about how the Internet will eventually disappear because it will be integrated into so many different aspects of life. We won’t see it but we’ll know it’s there. For example, Gartner predicts that the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow to 26 billion units by 2020. And this does not even include smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

Think about what this means for the future of wearables. In the future, wearable devices won’t be something you just slap on your wrist or eyes; they’ll eventually disappear into clothing and most will be easy to use. You won’t notice if it’s on your wrist or is a patch on your shoulder. While it’s safe to say that the 2015 generation of wearable devices won’t evolve this quickly, health care’s embrace of disruptive technology is moving us towards this reality day by day.

Is it perfect? No. There are improvements to make, including ease of use, cost, data management and data analytics. The future is promising and offers hope for those who simply need a nudge to get up off the couch and take control of their own health as well as for those who need a helping hand as they struggle to manage their chronic conditions and everyday life. For the latter, it has the potential to give them a closer connection to their providers or caregivers and offers hope for a greater sense of security, independence, and overall well-being.

Wearable technology is an exciting opportunity that is already positively transforming the way we see and manage our own health. Shouldn’t we pursue any opportunity that will move us forward on our journey to a healthier, happier future?

Humana Dallas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon and 5K: Festival of fun, better health

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Talk about a half marathon and most people will picture elite athletes, some of whom could be professionals or Olympic-caliber. And some of the 12,000 participants in the March 22 Humana Dallas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon would fit that category, but there were also those running their first race, those running for charity, and those who had suffered a stroke or lost a limb. All shared a commitment to better health and a determination to reach goals.

The weekend festival of racing kicked off Friday with a free Health and Fitness Expo and continued with Saturday’s 5K and Sunday’s half marathon. People from all 50 states and several countries participated in the Dallas half marathon, and Olympic medalist and running legend Deena Kastor was on hand to pace Saturday and Sunday’s races.

The fastest woman in the race was Lauren Versweybeld, a local resident celebrating her 26th birthday whose winning time of 1:19:14 was a personal best, and the fastest man was Emil Dobrowoloski of Poland, whose time of 1:04:41 was also a personal best.

The winning performances are impressive, but the weekend festival offered something for everyone and not just the elite athletes. There were opportunities for walkers and runners of all ages and abilities to complete goals, reach milestones, inspire health and give back to others. Participants were not only improving their own fitness but many were walking or running for a cause through Humana’s partnership with Charity Miles, a free app that lets people of all levels of fitness choose one of 25 charities that will receive 25 cents for every mile completed.

The weekend of healthy, fun activity ended Sunday with a post-race concert where the participants – and those who cheered them on – could celebrate their success in getting fit, giving back and inspiring others to begin their own journey to better health.

 

Humana voted top 10 finalist in film festival

Humana’s video about Humana Communities Benefit grant recipient Starting Right, Now has been voted a top 10 finalist in the 2015 Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship Film Festival.

This is the fourth year in a row that Humana has made the top 10 list in the film festival. Fifty-eight companies submitted videos in this year’s contest, and more than 40,000 people voted for the top 10. A panel of judges will choose the winner, which will be announced April 19 at the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference in Austin, Texas. You can watch Humana’s video above or watch all top 10 finalist videos by visiting the BCCCC website.

Humana’s entry in the 2015 Film Festival is a three-minute glimpse into Starting Right, Now, a Tampa nonprofit program for homeless children. The organization has helped more than 150 formerly homeless youth in Florida’s Hillsborough County find a home and build a foundation for a successful future. Vicki Sokolik, Starting Right, Now founder, plans to increase that number by expanding the Hillsborough County facility and opening another facility in Pinellas County with the $350,000 grant that her nonprofit received from the Humana Foundation. If you want to learn more about the program and those it serves, read this article.

Boys & Girls Clubs team up to teach life skills on basketball court

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Two teams from neighboring Indiana cities in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana basketball league were warming up to play a game on a recent Wednesday evening. Excited fans filled the bleachers, cheerleaders gave encouragement and the competitors were full of energy and ready to play. It’s a scene you would find at the start of any basketball game, but the teams’ warm-up jerseys gave the first clue that this would be more than just another basketball game. The message on the back of every jersey: Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

The slogan was chosen by the Boys & Girls Club as a reminder that while the physical activity and fun of the basketball league are both important, the goal goes far beyond that. Five clubs participate in the league to help the kids they serve learn to open their eyes to the differences around them, see new environments, new people and learn to develop skills that will help them handle the successes – and struggles – of life.

Micah Wilcher, Unit Director of the Boys & Girls Club in Jeffersonville, Indiana, suggested creating the basketball league as a way to get kids more active, have fun and learn life skills.

Micah Wilcher, Unit Director of the Boys & Girls Club in Jeffersonville, Indiana, suggested creating the basketball league as a way to get kids more active, have fun and learn life skills.

The basketball league, open to all kids 13 and younger, was added to the Health and Wellness programming at the suggestion of Micah Wilcher, Unit Director at the Jeffersonville (Indiana) Boys & Girls Club, who saw it as a way to get the kids more active while learning about the importance of teamwork, practicing and persevering.

“The feedback from both the parents and the kids has been positive,” Wilcher said of the league, which is in its second successful year. “Sports taught me a lot of lessons. And I wanted to do the same for others, but I also want this to be fun for the kids. I told the parents that it’s going to be an experience. They’ve had a blast.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs, with help from a $50,000 Humana Foundation grant provided to the Health and Wellness Program, succeeded in delivering a special experience to the dozens of kids participating in the five area clubs. Each team is able to use a personal trainer and is outfitted in uniforms and the warm-up jerseys. The cheer squad also has a coach and uniforms. It provides a chance to fully experience a team sport in a way that many of the kids would never have had.

Alex Rosado participates on the Boys & Girls Clubs basketball and football teams. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Alex Rosado participates on the Boys & Girls Clubs basketball and football teams. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

The uniforms are nice, but one of the reasons the league play has such an impact on the kids is the opportunity to leave their own neighborhoods, which is a first for many of them, said Wilcher. “It helps them learn to open their eyes to new environments, new people.”

Alex Rosado, 14, agreed that while he enjoyed watching his own team get better, one of his favorite aspects of the league was that it gives him a chance to see the different clubs, play with new people and even make new friends. Alex also played in the club’s flag football league and enjoyed the experience so much, he signed up for the basketball league.

Hannah Massey, 12, didn’t hesitate to join the Jeffersonville team even though she would be the only girl, because she said she loves basketball.

“It’s fun and keeps me energized,” said Hannah. “I’ve made a lot of new friends and get to see what other clubs are like.

Hannah Massey, 12, enjoys playing basketball and enjoys seeing meeting new people as part of the Boys & Girls Club of Kentuckiana Basketball League. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Hannah Massey, 12, enjoys playing basketball and enjoys seeing meeting new people as part of the Boys & Girls Club of Kentuckiana Basketball League. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

“We haven’t won a game yet, but we only lost by 9 and not 20 last time,” Hannah said with a big smile. “We’re getting better.”

Wilcher wants to keep the momentum going and is working on a possible summer league that would focus on Olympic events, such as track and field and basketball. He uses his own passion for sports and the lessons he learned playing them to help make a difference with the kids at the clubs.

And it clearly is making a difference.

“This has made a tremendous difference in him, in his attitude,” said Wilcher, recalling the effect the club has had on one member, who became a regular in the gym, interacting, playing and even volunteering to clean up. “He was in trouble, didn’t want to listen and was headed in a bad direction. But he’s a different person now, a different kid. We may not save every kid (in trouble), but if we can save one, it’s a success.”

The Jeffersonville Steamers didn’t get to celebrate their first basketball victory that Wednesday night, but they came closer than ever, losing by only 5 points to the Ed Endres Bulldogs from nearby New Albany.  And as their warm-ups remind us, winning a game is not the only goal or even the most important one.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Sometimes you change a life headed in the wrong direction. That’s a huge victory for all to celebrate.

See the two teams in action in this short video:

 

Humana Communities Benefit grant recipient featured at BCCCC Film Festival

Vicki Sokolik, Founder and Executive Director of Starting Right, Now, (standing) said resiliency and motivation to succeed are two qualities she looks for when interviewing potential program participants, such as Jorge Gonzalez and La'Quita Carter. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

Vicki Sokolik, Founder and Executive Director of Starting Right, Now, (standing) said resiliency and motivation to succeed are two qualities she looks for when interviewing potential program participants, such as Jorge Gonzalez and La’Quita Carter. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

Humana’s video about Starting Right, Now, a Humana Communities Benefit grant recipient, is featured in the 2015 Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (BCCCC) Film Festival. The center’s annual Film Festival showcases corporate citizenship videos and asks the public to vote for their favorite.

Voting will take place from March 2 through March 16. Votes are tallied when public voting ends and the top 10 finalists are then reviewed by a panel of judges who choose a winner. The Film Festival winner will be announced April 19 during the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference in Austin, Texas. Learn more about the Film Festival, view the videos and vote.

Humana’s entry in the 2015 Film Festival is a three-minute glimpse into the program for homeless children and those whose lives it has changed. The organization has helped more than 150 formerly homeless youth in Florida’s Hillsborough County find a home and build a foundation for a successful future. Some are the first in their family to graduate from high school and most are the first to graduate from college. Vicki Sokolik, Starting Right, Now founder, hopes to increase that number by expanding the Hillsborough County facility and opening another facility in Pinellas County with the $350,000 grant from the Humana Foundation that her nonprofit recently won. If you want to learn more about the program and those it serves, read this article.

Humana and Weight Watchers team up to fight obesity epidemic

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More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, making obesity a widespread and serious health issue in our country. Obesity and its related conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, costs Americans billions of dollars annually. The toll it is taking on our overall happiness and well-being is immeasurable.

The statistics are grim, but with the support of communities and groups, such as Weight Watchers International, Inc., we can work together to make positive change and improve our health. As part of an effort to help people achieve lifelong well-being, Humana is teaming up with Weight Watchers to help our members adopt a healthier lifestyle and turn the tide of rising obesity levels.

Who is eligible and how does it work?
With levels of obesity and its health-related impacts continuing to rise in the United States, employers are facing a fast-growing threat to productivity and employee health. For that reason, more employers are taking on this challenge by offering resources to employees, such as this program offered through the Humana and Weight Watchers partnership.

  • All Humana members in qualified employer-sponsored health plans now have free and discounted access to Weight Watchers through an integrated wellness program built into their health plan. The first-of-its-kind program closely integrates Weight Watchers into Humana’s medical and wellness programs, actively connecting members who want to lose weight to the program at no cost for six months and at a significant discount thereafter.
  • Members with weight loss goals will be actively connected to Weight Watchers through Humana’s disease management programs, health coaches, personal nurses, customer service and HumanaVitality.
  • Humana participants can chose Weight Watchers OnlinePlus to follow the plan entirely online with new 24/7 Expert Chat real-time support and access to all the digital tools and apps; or they can choose Weight Watchers Meetings for face-to-face support from a Coach who has lost weight with Weight Watchers and exchange experiences with a group of like-minded peers, along with 24/7 Expert Chat and digital tools and apps.
  • Read our news release for more details about this new program.

Week of wellness: Meeting the challenge of getting fit, giving back

The Humana Challenge began with the goal of using a PGA TOUR golf tournament to inspire people to get active, give back and have fun. The event, held in California’s Coachella Valley, became known as a week of wellness with a side of golf.

This year’s event once again succeeded in getting people walking, eating better and donating to charities, both locally and nationally.

Watch the video above for a visual summary of how this event connects people who share a passion for health and inspire others to join them on a journey toward lifelong well-being. For a more in-depth look at the 2015 Humana Challenge, check out the stories below.

Challenging Conversations: End of Life

EOL BB blog

Bruce_Broussard_MEDIres.jpg WIn a series of LinkedIn Influencer blog posts, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard shares insights and ideas about the future of health care and discusses the importance of working together to improve the health-care system as well as our own health and well-being. His topics range from the powerful potential of technology to the issue of loneliness. His latest, Challenging Conversations: End of Life, is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

Do we know how to handle death as we do life?

Most of us don’t think about the former; we’re so wrapped up in our busy lives that it doesn’t really enter our thoughts that often. We’re focused on getting the kids to school; meeting the next deadline at work; getting the family together for dinner.

Our culture is about doing everything we can to prolong life and live as long as we can, as it should be. Nothing reflects the American spirit more than the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” From family to sports to education to the arts, we live hard.

We have a proud history of never giving up. We root for David and fight to the end, regardless of our chances. This driving nature has helped deliver a quality of life to several generations that other nations have sought to imitate.

Seeing this Firsthand

Due to advances in health and medicine, people over 65 are able to live longer than in any previous generation. They’re wearing Fitbits; taking healthy eating classes; and believe they’ll outlive their ancestors. More power to them.

I’ve seen how some of our own Medicare members who participate in Humana At Home, which now serves 600,000 people nationwide, have been able to enhance their quality of life – and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations – despite the multiple chronic conditions they live with. For example, Humana At Home members who had the highest risk for disease progression had a 15.9 percent greater survival rate than those not participating in the program.

But the story goes well beyond any number. These care managers take the time to get to know these members. They learn their stories, learn what motivates them, encourage them, help them set – and reach – goals that bring a better quality of life, a greater sense of well-being. The care managers may connect members with social workers or other community resources to help with finance, transportation or loneliness. The care plan is based on individual need and looks at mental, physical and social issues. It goes well beyond the clinical and mental facets; it’s about caring for a person like they are part of your family.

Many of these members are able to live longer with a higher quality of life, despite the chronic conditions that have inevitably shortened their lifespan. Yet, as we all know, death is a part of life. While we want to enjoy our time on earth, are we prepared for the moment when it ends? How do we want our passing to go? Do we want to trade more time for quality of life?

My Own Experience

As a former oncology company executive, and now the leader of a health and well-being company, the questions I raised are ones most people are not prepared for when it comes to cancer. While many of the Medicare Advantage members I discussed above stay with us for an average of over seven years, and have active lifestyles, sadly enough, we see many of them pass on.

Many of you reading this blog have lost a loved one (family, close friend) to cancer. Despite the advances made in chemotherapy, it’s still a treatment that can knock you to the floor and drain any energy you have left to fight. When it comes to cancer, everyone wants to save their loved one.

The most common example I’ve seen – between my time in oncology and now at Humana – is the 73-year-old female patient (Lucy) who is diagnosed with a terminal disease, such as lung cancer. Lucy decides to fight, receives the chemo treatments and has a great response. Unfortunately, her cancer recurs. With her physician she promptly starts a second round of chemo or radiation.

After four months, Lucy’s health is much weaker than before. She’s been hospitalized three times; has lost her hair; has been nauseated a lot of the time; and lost weight as a result. At this point, Lucy and her family finally begin to have a real discussion about her real wishes in terms of treatment.

The sad truth of this common example is that Lucy was nervous and had not had a real conversation with her family or her doctor about her own options. On the family side, they were equally worried because they didn’t want to upset mom so they didn’t discuss it either. Not infrequently, Lucy now questions whether she made the right choice and regrets not speaking with her family.

We all believe in self-determination and the right to pursue different types of treatments that are available and appropriate. But it’s also important to start the discussion among the patient, his or her family, their doctor and their clergy so they have a real expectation of the situation.

I’ve had friends from various age groups who have faced cancer, like many others. When everyone is clear on where things stand, it’s not just individuals like Lucy battling cancer. It’s a team.

The Conversation Must Take Place

Discussing end-of-life with loved ones is not an easy conversation. Our natural instinct is to do everything we can to help our loved ones when they get sick; death is not an option. We don’t want to see them go and will always feel it’s too soon.

Our compassion is our greatest strength, yet it’s important to remember that the patient fighting the battle may sometimes have a different view. There is sometimes a disconnect between treatment and health. The patient may choose an extra month of life due to chemo treatments over quality of life, or vice versa. His or her family may want more time. Either way, we all know it will be tough but it’s important to discuss now, no matter how difficult it will be.

When a person with a serious illness passes on, there are countless loved ones left behind who have had to pick up the pieces. They’ve gone from serving as caretakers for several months, sometimes years, and the person they have been fighting for is now gone.

We don’t want life to end and – many times – we don’t do what we can to prepare for it. While other cultures throughout the world view death as a part of life and address it long before it happens, we tend to put this off. As a society, we must come together to have an open, honest and transparent conversation about preparing for end of life. We need to help those closest to passing on think about how they want to live.

This is not an easy conversation to have at any stage in life, but taking more time to address it will help us all. The more you talk about death while you’re alive and enjoying all that life has to offer, the more you’ll be prepared to face it.

Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team wins “Game of Honor”

WWAFT – Check Presentation – 01-28-2015-edit

The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team scored another victory over retired NFL players in a game called “A Tribute to Heroes, Game of Honor” that was attended by about 10,000 people on January 28 in Phoenix.

The focus is on the heroes and not the score in this series of charity flag football games held around the country to raise awareness and support for the nation’s veterans and their families.

The game Wednesday night in Phoenix was the third consecutive WWAFT game that Humana has sponsored preceding a Super Bowl and the fifth overall. Proceeds from the game benefit the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and various disabled veterans organizations in Arizona.

To learn more about this series of games and the veterans who participate, read our blog article, Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Game: A victory for the human spirit.

Health Matters Activation Summit: Inspiring ideas – and action – to improve well-being

Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard, far right, talks to other panelists, including President Bill Clinton, during the 2015 Health Matters Activation Summit held Jan. 26 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for Humana)

Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard, far right, talks to other panelists, including President Bill Clinton, during the 2015 Health Matters Activation Summit held Jan. 26 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for Humana)

The annual Clinton Foundation Health Matters Activation Summit each year brings together leaders in business and government, non-governmental organizations and individuals who form partnerships and inspire ideas that lead to actions to help improve the health and well-being of people around the nation.

President Bill Clinton kicked off the fourth annual summit Monday in Indian Wells, California, by moderating a panel that focused on health innovations and ended the day by leading a panel on health and the economy.

Joining Clinton at the closing session was Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard; Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear; Trevor Fetter, President and CEO of Tenet Healthcare; Michael Peterson, President and COO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; and Dr. Meredith Rosenthal, Professor of Health Economics and Policy, Harvard University.

The panelists noted that the nation’s health and economy are inextricably linked, with Gov. Beshear pointing out that “you cannot have a quality workforce without a healthy workforce” and connecting the expansion of Medicaid in his state to the creation of thousands of jobs and the potential to inject billions of dollars into its economy.

President Bill Clinton opens the 2015 Health Matters Activation Summit on Jan. 26 in Indian Wells, California (Photo by Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for Humana)

President Bill Clinton opens the 2015 Health Matters Activation Summit on Jan. 26 in Indian Wells, California (Photo by Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for Humana)

Most panelists agreed that areas of focus that will move the country forward to achieving better physical and economic health include: public and private partnerships, integrated health systems, payment reform, data sharing and transparency, expansion of access to care and empowerment of individuals and communities to make their own positive changes.

Broussard also emphasized the need to change the focus of the conversation from treatment to health. “It’s not about the insurance. It’s not about the treatment. It’s about how do we help people stay healthy no matter where they are in their journey?”

He also noted that while the system is good at treating sudden illnesses, it is not designed to help people avoid chronic conditions, such as diabetes, that are taking an increasingly heavier toll on the economy, productivity and our quality of life.

While the decline in our nation’s health is deeply concerning, all agreed that there is still reason to be optimistic because we are already seeing some successes and positive change.

Broussard used the example of Humana’s nearly 60,000 associates who have collectively – and literally – lost tons of weight and decreased their modifiable health risks. He attributed this successful behavioral change in part to the fact that they take annual health risk assessments, know their numbers and are proactively offered health coaching and incentives to make improvements.

“When people know their numbers, they make more effective decisions,” said Broussard.

Clinton concluded the summit by thanking all those who have made commitments to help communities improve their health and well-being and encouraging all to continue forming partnerships for positive change.

“There is always something we can do to make what we are concerned about better,” he said.
(Watch the video below for highlights from Monday’s summit.)

Related links and videos:

  • Pete Moore, of Integrity Square, shared an experience he had at last year’s Health Matters Summit, the first one he had attended. During one session of that summit, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard discussed what he believed to be one of our biggest health issues – loneliness. That moment inspired the development of the Smacktive app, which connects like-minded people and eases their loneliness. To learn more about the genesis of the app, watch the video below.

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