Leading health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) has named Nwando Olayiwola, M.D., MPH, FAAFP, to the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Health Equity Officer.
In this newly created role, Dr. Olayiwola will report directly to Humana Chief Medical and Corporate Affairs Officer William Shrank, M.D., and will set direction and establish strategy to promote health equity across all Humana lines of business, including its care delivery assets. She will lead work to define enterprise-wide measures of equity, create goals for improvement and coordinate efforts to achieve them. In addition, Dr. Olayiwola will further Humana’s focus on cultural sensitivity, ensuring that it’s fully integrated into the design and development of Humana clinical programs, products, services and all member interactions and communications, while working collaboratively with the broader health care community to advance health equity so health care can work better for everyone, regardless of background, age or economic status. Dr. Olayiwola will assume the role effective April 5, 2021.
The move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the prevalence and damaging effects of health disparities in the U.S. health care system, which have been well-documented:
- According to the Boston University COVID Tracking Project, compared to White Americans, Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic Americans have been 1.32, 2.03, and 1.69 times more likely to contract COVID-19, and 1.61, 1.21, and 1.25 times more likely to die from the disease.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Americans are 23% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than White Americans.
- A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the gap in life expectancy between the richest 1% and poorest 1% of Americans was 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women.
“Humana’s longstanding commitment to caring for vulnerable populations, partnering with communities to address health-related social needs, and employing a holistic, integrated approach to care for our members offers a unique platform to meaningfully promote health equity,” said Dr. Shrank. “Dr. Olayiwola is highly regarded as an innovator and expert in harnessing technology to increase access to care for underserved and disenfranchised populations, as well as designing and implementing impactful clinical programs to address the personal needs and challenges people face in achieving their best health. We are fortunate to have her join us to expand and enhance Humana’s work on health equity.”
A longtime advocate for the underserved, Dr. Olayiwola brings more than 20 years of experience in clinical and academic medicine, public health and health systems redesign. She joins Humana from The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine, where she has served as Chair and Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, one of the nation’s largest academic family medicine departments, and Founding Director of the Center for Primary Care Innovation and Transformation. She also practices family medicine at OSU’s Outpatient Care East clinic, caring for a largely medically underserved patient population.
“Unfortunately, we know there are hidden barriers to health care in our country, and I have always cared deeply about those who – by no fault of their own – have fallen through the cracks in our health care system,” said Dr. Olayiwola. “The field of health equity is growing and maturing, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to concentrate my efforts in this important area, especially for a highly regarded, mission-driven organization like Humana. I was immediately impressed with the company’s dedication to population health through its, as well as its commitment to ensuring that high-quality health care is equally available to anyone, no matter what demographic they come from or their status in life.”
Prior to her time at OSU, Dr. Olayiwola served as the inaugural Chief Clinical Transformation Officer for RubiconMD, where she worked to improve access to specialty care for underserved patients via telehealth technology. Dr. Olayiwola previously served as the Director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she was also an Associate Professor. While at UCSF, she also provided clinical care to underserved and refugee patients at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Before UCSF, she was the Chief Medical Officer of Community Health Center, Inc., Connecticut’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) system.
Dr. Olayiwola was a Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellow in Minority Health Policy at Harvard Medical School and received her master’s degree in public health with a concentration in health policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition/Pre-Medicine at The Ohio State University, Summa Cum Laude and With Distinction, and her medical degree from the Ohio State University/Cleveland Clinic Foundation. She completed her residency in Family Medicine at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian, where she was also a Chief Resident.
Dr. Olayiwola has published extensively in peer-reviewed medical journals and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award from UCSF, the Woman of the Year Award from the American Telemedicine Association, the Alumni Achievement Award from the OSU College of Medicine and the Public Health Innovator Award from the Harvard School of Public Health. Her October 2020is considered a clarion call toward health equity.