Humana partners to study disease management


Humana and University of Miami create a unique research center.

NATIONAL REPORTS-In what experts are calling an "innovative marriage of the academic and private sectors," the University of Miami (Florida) and Humana are creating a center to conduct clinical, behavioral and health-services research to help keep individuals healthy and reduce healthcare costs.

The Health Services Research Center is a collaborative effort between Humana and the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. The center will be jointly governed by a board that includes members from Humana and the University of Miami, as well as an independent scientific advisory board that includes experts from all aspects of the healthcare industry.

The University of Miami/Humana Health Services Research Center is dedicated to searching for new ways to prevent disease and manage chronic illness. One feature of the center will be a Health Behavior Change Laboratory, which will integrate Humana's personal nurse coaching services into the university's clinical settings. It is a unique public-private partnership devoted to clinical, health services and policy research, with a focus on influencing behaviors to improve chronic disease among South Florida's diverse population.

This pre-disease management "moves farther back in the ill health chain than traditional DM," according to MHE Editorial Advisor Al Lewis, president of the Disease Management Purchasing Consortium in Wellesley, Mass. "If successful, Humana will be the first to put an economic value on leading a healthy life, just as they were the first to do disease management at all, back in 1996," Lewis says.

NO DISEASE STATE UNTURNED The research center will not exclude any disease states, according to Dr. Han. "However, diseases that benefit from behavior change, such as heart disease and diabetes will be a priority," she says. "By targeting diseases and conditions that are amendable to behavior and lifestyle changes and management, we will prove that health creates wealth for all stakeholders. In other words, a healthy person who invests in health today will generate huge, long-term financial benefits through savings on future health expenditures."

The center will use both Humana members as well as non-Humana members. However, the center will have access to richer data for Humana members because it will have both the university's clinical data and Humana's claims data.

"All health plans have vast data for their members," Dr. Han says. "However, Humana is turning its data into knowledge on how to help consumers live healthier lives. Humana's sophistication in statistical analysis using things such as physician visits, diagnosis codes and prescription records, helps the company produce models for predicting the trajectory of illness."

Humana and the university plan to publish their findings in medical and healthcare journals and publications.

For another plan to do what Humana is doing, "they'd have to be equivalent to Humana in having excellent claims availability, a personal nurse program and a relationship with an academic center," according to Lewis. "Very few others have all three."

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