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Study Shows Continued Progress to Improve Community Health
Kentucky Ag Connection - 11/15/2017

New research from Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., demonstrates positive trends toward its Bold Goal of improving health 20 percent by 2020. The findings, published in a peer-reviewed paper, "A Bold Goal: More Healthy Days Through Improved Community Health," in the journal Population Health Management, illustrate how Humana has used the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) Healthy Days survey for measuring progress in its Bold Goal population health work.

Healthy Days is a brief, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) four-question survey that asks individuals how many days per month they feel physically or mentally unhealthy. Previous research has shown that the Healthy Days results are associated with prevalence of chronic conditions and other measures of population health.

Healthy Days improvements through community interventions are highlighted in two case studies -- San Antonio, Texas, and Knoxville, Tenn. The paper also describes associations between Healthy Days and social determinants of health. This has led to a Bold Goal strategic focus on loneliness/social isolation and food insecurity.

"The link between social determinants of health and Healthy Days is substantial," commented Pattie Dale Tye, Segment Vice President and senior lead of the Bold Goal population health strategy. "Through our research, interventions and national partnerships we know that by working to eliminate barriers to health, we can have an enormous impact on health outcomes and quality of life."

In San Antonio the average number of reported unhealthy days dropped from 10.52 to 9.57 (a 9 percent improvement). Knoxville saw a 4.8 percent improvement. Across all seven of Humana's Bold Goal communities, mean unhealthy days declined from 10.98 in 2015 to 10.64 in 2016, a 3.1 percent improvement. The paper describes projects that are addressing health barriers and chronic conditions to improve health in San Antonio and Knoxville. In these communities, Humana is working with local partners and community leaders to address social factors relevant to health in each community and to measure how their interventions impacted population health.

"We're proud of these early Healthy Days results," said Andrew Renda, MD MPH, one of the study's authors. "And the innovative analysis on social determinants has significantly influenced our population health strategy to focus on food insecurity and loneliness/social isolation. This makes us optimistic that we're on the right track, and that, with more focused and scaled social determinant interventions, we will see even better results in the future."

"We are pleased that we were able to design a robust Bold Goal tracking plan," added co-author Gil Haugh, who is also Director of Clinical Analytics at Humana. "Early on, we investigated best practices in complex sample survey methods and consulted with outside experts in population health who had experience using the Healthy Days survey."

The paper describes associations between Healthy Days and social determinants of Health. Humana researchers analyzed 31 social factors and their relationship to individual health. The analysis found that inadequate social/emotional support (also known as loneliness or social isolation) and food insecurity have the strongest associations with opportunities to improve Healthy Days.

The research helps to further Humana's Bold Goal to improve the health of the communities it serves. By identifying social and emotional support and food insecurity as the social factors that have the greatest impact on Healthy Days, Humana can focus its Bold Goal strategy on those areas.

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