What value-based care’s future may hold

Brian Powers, M.D., MBA

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Bio

Dr. Powers supports rapid learning and evaluation of Humana’s integrated care delivery strategy, leads research in payment and delivery innovation, and drives physician engagement, alignment, advocacy and education across the company. He is a practicing hospitalist

It is overwhelming to think through all that has occurred since the winter of 2020. The toll of suffering has been vast, and the healthcare system has been stretched thin working to respond to the pandemic and ensure the health of patients.

Still, despite the adversity and suffering, there is cause for optimism. And even opportunity for celebration. The ingenuity, resolve, camaraderie and speed to action we have seen across the healthcare industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable. We saw unprecedented teamwork among physicians, communities, agencies and payers. Hesitancy gave way to urgency and partnership.

Our industry answered the call. The pandemic also clearly highlighted the value of value-based care, shining a light on many benefits long known to innovators in the field, but perhaps less obvious to policymakers and the public.

Value-based delivery organizations led at every turn of our response to the pandemic—providing critical staffing on the front lines, proactively reaching out to patients to ensure their safety, setting up testing centers. They were finding new ways to deliver care virtually and in the home, and ensuring equitable access to vaccines.

Looking back now, it’s important to pause and acknowledge the work that has been done across the healthcare system to support patients, especially those most vulnerable to the virus, and our country more broadly.

Looking ahead, we should expect to see value-based care remain an engine for driving the change and transformation needed to better outcomes and better value for patients and their communities — just as we’ve seen during the pandemic. Although the specifics will continue to evolve, the themes of flexibility, ingenuity and a relentless focus on doing what’s needed to keep patients healthy will remain as constant.

At least three areas will need to remain central guideposts as value-based care continues, each informed by lessons learned during the pandemic. The first is finding new ways to engage patients, where (and How) they want—virtually or in-person, in the office or in the home. The second is a commitment to reducing inequities, finding new ways to understand and reduce the drivers of unacceptable disparities in quality, value and access. The third is the speed of innovation, adopting, iterating and rapidly scaling new technologies that hold promise to enable value-based care, as we saw with telemedicine during the pandemic.

When there is a clear need and opportunity, we can move quickly. Across each of these dimensions, value-based organizations will likely lead the way, just as we have seen since the winter of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and our healthcare system, will continue to evolve rapidly, as they have over the past year. With value-based care as a constant, our system will be more resilient in the face of change, however unexpected.

Looking ahead, we should expect to see value-based care remain an engine for driving the change and transformation needed to better outcomes and better value for patients and their communities

 

Additional value-based care insight

VBC Specialization program

Humana and the University of Houston, through the Humana Integrated Health Systems Sciences Institute, have created a Value-based Care Specialization program. This online training, for which continuing education credit is available to physicians and nurses, teaches the fundamentals that healthcare providers, academics, and business and industry professionals need, with knowledge that is practical and actionable.

Decide your path: Take any of the six courses independently and receive a certificate for each.

Earn your specialization: Complete all six courses and a capstone project to earn the specialization designation.

To learn more about the program, visit coursera.org/specializations/value-based-care.

Population health website

As value-based physicians focus on the whole-person well-being of their patients, Humana’s population health website provides a number of resources to assist in those efforts. The site features tools to support coordination of care, specifically in connecting social resources to those patients who are most at risk. Additionally, browsers can view the annual Bold Goal Progress Report that shares progress made in improving the health of communities through addressing social determinants of health and the health-related social needs of Humana MA members.

The population health site can be accessed at populationhealth.humana.com.