Humana’s long-term population health strategy, best represented in its relationships in Bold Goal communities, gave the payer a blueprint for addressing social needs on a wider scale as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, according to a report released last week.

The 2021 Bold Goal Progress Report describes Humana’s on-the-ground work with the 16 communities where the payer works with health systems and community partners to increase “Healthy Days,” using a definition developed by the CDC. The report says Medicare Advantage members actually increased their number of physically healthy days each month, with targeted approaches having their greatest impact on those with depression or disabilities.

But this year’s report also includes information on the Basic Needs Program, which Humana created to address urgent social issues during the pandemic, including hunger. In 2020, the program assisted, more than 78,000 members and provided more than 1.1 million meals, the report said.

Bold Goal is Humana’s ongoing effort to address holistic health needs in key markets, in part by working with community partners to address social determinants of health. The initiative, designed to tackle barriers such as lack of food or housing and social isolation that contribute to chronic disease, proved beneficial when the pandemic fueled a need to deliver more services in all these areas.

Andrew Renda, MD, vice president for Bold Goal and Population Health Strategy at Humana, said in an interview with The American Journal of Managed Care® that while it’s hard to quantify how things would have looked for Humana without Bold Goal in place, it is true that the program “helped position us well” when the pandemic struck.

“We’ve been working in the population health and social determinants space for 5 years,” Renda said. “And so, we’ve built a lot of the data and analytic infrastructure to make sure that we know what we’re talking about when we say social determinants; we know what we’re talking about when we’re saying population health.”

Humana has both a corporate-level strategy for large populations—Medicare and Medicaid—and what Renda called “a very intentional, local, community-based strategy when it comes to social determinants of health.”

That community focus includes the 16 Bold Goal communities, each with its own health advisory board that features nonprofits and faith-based leaders. “We weren’t starting from scratch when the pandemic hit and these needs presented themselves,” he said. “We had some interventions and partnerships in the hopper that we could deploy.”

Read full article on the AJMC website.

-AJMC, May 28, 2021,