Humana's CFO on the company's home health push

Susan Diamond became Humana's permanent CFO in June. She spoke with Becker's Aug. 16 about her top goals for her first year and the future of the payer's home healthcare expansion. 

Question: What are your top goals for your first year as CFO?

Susan Diamond: That's a great question, especially considering the environment we're all living through right now. Certainly the No. 1 thing is just navigating the challenges caused by COVID. It's certainly a challenging time, not only for our associates and our members and our partners, but also investors. And so a lot of my time right now is just spent continuing to look for ways to support each of those constituency groups. And obviously that'll continue until everything returns to a more normal state. 

As the new CFO within a public company, I'm spending a lot of time getting to know the investors. I am committed to providing transparency for them, and again, in this environment, if you listened to our second-quarter call, that can be challenging — just trying to help them understand the range of complexities we're managing, and giving them visibility into our emerging experience. 

So I've spent considerable time with our larger investors addressing their questions and in the future, hope to be able to spend more time with them to learn more about their perspective — what parts of our strategy are most exciting for them, what they'd like to know more about, understanding the concerns they have and what they would like to see from us. And so I'll continue to build those relationships. While we're a large Medicare Advantage payer, we also have a number of other lines of business on the care delivery side, and they don't understand those businesses quite as well just because we tend to have historically not provided as much disclosure on those businesses, which have historically contributed less to our earnings than we expect them to going forward. So we'll continue to work to build some external metrics that we can share to help everyone begin to better understand the range of capabilities to be built, and how they can expect those to contribute to our enterprise contribution and shareholder returns going forward. 

And then the last thing I would highlight is I plan to make a larger investment in our enterprise planning function. The industry we operate in is complex, and we continue to invest in more sophisticated analytics, technology and care model capabilities, which are designed to improve health outcomes, manage total cost of care and improve experiences for our members. And those by definition are just more complex investments. And we need to make sure that we have a really clear understanding of how the solutions create value for the enterprise and that we're taking full advantage of those advancements in which we're investing. And so that will require some additional talent and sophistication in our mid- and longer-term planning processes. And we're really excited to get started on that to make sure that we have a clear path to delivering sustainable growth and shareholder return.

Q: Humana has been heavily involved in expanding its home healthcare business. What does the company's home healthcare future look like? 

SD: Yes. So we've been making significant investments in the care delivery side and healthcare services side of our businesses, and we intend to continue to focus on expanding access and coverage of those services so that more of our members and more broadly, Medicare eligibles, have access to those services. So that's a clear priority.

Another one is specific to home health. We're looking to leverage the unique capabilities across Humana, Kindred as well as OneHome, which we also announced recently that we acquired. We intend to use those capabilities across all of those companies in order to implement a nationally scaled value-based home health product. And as we've worked with Kindred over the last few years, we have really learned a great deal about some of the challenges and barriers in the way home health is delivered today, and a lot of it stems from the fact that today home health is designed to really address a more narrow set of emergent issues that a patient might be experiencing. And we think there's an opportunity to leverage that interaction, to take a more holistic view of the patient's needs and more comprehensively address it. And when we do, that will require bringing other capabilities and services, whether that's primary care, emergency room or even hospital-level care into the home. We believe that when done well, we can significantly impact avoidable hospitalizations, and keep people at home and healthier and more active.

We'll be launching that later this year in an initial set of markets and expanding nationally over the next couple of years. And really that's going to be designed with a value-based mindset, including a value-based operating model, as well as a value-based payment model. And our goal is to do that initially for our Humana health plan partners, and then look to take that and operate on an agnostic basis in the future where we would make that available to other payer partners, which is one of the reasons we're looking to move the Kindred home health brand under our CenterWell brand, much like we've done with our primary care capabilities.

The last thing I would say is as we've developed this broader set of care delivery capabilities, and we are working really hard internally to just understand and identify all of the ways in which we can leverage these capabilities across our health plan membership and to provide better support and proactive care for our members, and through technology enablement, make it easier for providers and patients to access these services when needed and provide a more integrated and seamless experience, which we believe will lead to improved outcomes and better health for our members.

Q: Can you talk about where Humana stands on price disclosures? 

SD: Sure. There have been some recent requirements that have come out with respect to interoperability and price transparency, and I think generally and broadly Humana is very supportive of those initiatives. We definitely believe in price transparency as well as advancements in tools so that patients and providers can better understand the range of choices they have, as well as understand the ranking of quality and cost considerations when they make choices in terms of where they receive care. So we definitely are supportive. We do recognize that it is complex and will likely take some time to do it as well as it needs to be done, but we are actively investing in our ability to do that and play our part.

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