Last year stretched Humana and me in ways we had never contemplated before. Yet, it made us better, and me better, by providing tremendous learnings during what has been one of the most challenging periods of a lifetime. Reflecting on 2020 has provided some lifelong lessons about how I live and lead and wanted to share them here.
• Purpose and Values: With purpose, a beacon, we prioritize what matters most. At Humana, we remain deeply committed to our bold goal – helping improve our members’ health and the communities we serve by addressing social determinants of health. In a year like 2020, our purpose provided clarity in direction and intentions toward people’s health and safety. Whether addressing cost barriers, educating on how to stay safe, providing access to testing or delivering food, our purpose guided us.
• Relationships and Partnerships: The healthcare system’s complexity is something we are all responsible for changing and improving. No one company can transform it alone. Partnerships among government, providers, communities, and other organizations are necessary and together can make us all better. The value and importance of fostering these relationships to improve health outcomes and eliminate barriers cannot be overstated.
• Experiences: I am now a firm believer that shared experiences create a sense of community and deepen relationships – especially across an organization. COVID quickly forced me to evaluate how I connect with people. Going to the office had been a “crutch” in my leadership efforts; it felt like just being there set a strong culture. With COVID, I had to be much more intentional about being present and provide as much empathy, transparency, and certainty as possible. I had to find a different way to connect and share. I began writing weekly emails to the organization reflecting on what was happening to us individually, our communities, and the organization. I also started reaching out more to people and didn’t wait for a formal meeting. Changing these little things made a big impact – it helped me listen better and learn as a leader.
• Digital, Digital, Digital: One of our core beliefs at Humana is that the way to improve health care is by creating health care experiences that are simple and easy. Advancements in digital health and analytics have provided tremendous capabilities to deliver that personalized experience. Those who had ignored this space, especially with the healthcare system’s demands due to COVID, were left flat-footed. Humana has made significant investments in this area over the past decade, but COVID spotlighted our need to do more and faster. The same applies to our focus in home health services, telehealth and the need for interoperability.
• Balance: I believe in being a force of positive change, and in doing so, I strive for balance in my personal and professional life. It is essential to spend time for yourself. I am a big reader and spend much time in reflection. I take avid notes and reflect every Sunday on what I learned and what I will carry forward. It helps gives me clarity and purpose. I shared these reflections with the organization during this past year – to be more transparent and open. The honest feedback I have received provided me with ways to improve, better respond, and bring everyone up.
• Humility: None of us had navigated a year like 2020 before and it was humbling. But the most challenging experiences and diverse perspectives are what shape us and make us better. It meant being okay with not having all the answers but acknowledging what is happening around us. COVID and social unrest put this into great focus for me. I learned where I could do better as a leader and as an organization, especially as it relates to addressing social determinants of health.
2020 served as a force for much forward progress in helping our members and the public. We learned a lot, and our operating model continues to get better and improve. We are all getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations and the need to stay true to our purpose and values. While there’s still much to do, it is a critical time in healthcare, and I remain optimistic about the future. We are in this together and we need one another to work on the shared challenges ahead.