Bryan Loy Explains How the Social Determinants of Health Influence the Results of Treatment

Humana has expanded its focus to the social determinants of health because issues like food insecurity and lack of transportation impact outcomes even if patients are getting the best medical care, said Bryan Loy, MD, physician lead, oncology, laboratory, and personalized medicine, Humana.

What is Humana working on to improve value that you think will have a big impact?
I think we’ve expanded our aperture at Humana to include the social determinants of health. If you listen to some of our press releases, we talk an awful lot about food insecurity. We also talk a lot about transportation issues. You can get the very best care that science has to offer but if you send someone home to an empty refrigerator or if they can’t get back to their next follow-up appointment because of transportation issues, you’re not gonna get the outcome that you’re looking for. Until we begin to engage the folks that can help us to do something about that, the doctors and some of the other agencies that can help, or the caregiver support that’s needed to meet those unmet needs, I don’t think our work’s through.

How are you engaging physicians to make these community connections to help patients?
What we hear from the docs is that you’ve got to help make it easy, you’ve got to help build that into our processes. So, if you think about how does that connection get made, you really have to begin to ask yourself, what sort of infrastructure do you have to have from the patient–provider interface and then connecting them to all of the assets and agencies a community might have to offer.

So, it depends on what you’re looking for, if you’re looking for health disparity or health access or health literacy issues, you’re going to have a different set of agencies rather than comparing the issue of health literacy or food insecurity. You’ve got other social agencies and not-for-profits that can help solve those problems, food banks for example, other not-for-profit agencies.

The challenge is just making sure that the model makes sense so we’ve invested heavily in what we call our Bold Goal markets. Those markets are areas that we’ve chosen to invest in the health, not just the healthcare delivery but the health of those communities to try to improve their overall health by 20% by the year 2020 and beyond.
Print | AJMC Printing...