By Lorie Hailey
(Editor’s note: This is part 10 in our series about how Kentucky businesses are responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19. See the full report.)
Kentucky-based insurance provider Humana responded early to COVID-19, quickly taking steps to improve coverage for its nearly 17 million members and ensure the safety of its more than 41,000 employees, of which 12,000 are in Kentucky.
In early March, Louisville-based Humana converted most of its staff to telework. It waived all out-of-pocket costs associated with COVID-19 testing of its members and increased telemedicine availability to decrease exposure to the highly contagious respiratory illness. Humana allowed for early refills of prescription medications, waived telemedicine costs for urgent care needs and provided a specialized member support line.
Humana later expanded access to telehealth services, covering audio-only telephone and video calls to help reduce exposure to COVID-19, and sped up the process of moving non-coronavirus patients to alternative care locations during the pandemic. It also simplified and expedited claims processing to help health care providers get reimbursed as quickly as possible.
While COVID-19 left many businesses scrambling to arrange for employees to work from home, Humana easily transitioned thanks to a long-standing and successful work-from-home policy.
Before March 12, one-third of its employees were recognized as “work at home,” Cude said. “Work at home” and “agile,” which allows a flexible schedule and working from home once in a while, are two of the more utilized work styles, said Roger Cude, senior vice president of talent and organization development at Humana.
Because of its large existing work-from-home staff, Humana already had developed processes that made the transition easier, Cude said. One of those was having the right hardware, software and connectivity programs for employees to consistently serve customers and collaborate, he said.
“A few of the tools we’re utilizing are Microsoft OneDrive and Teams, WebEx (meeting software), and an internal social media platform called Buzz,” Cude said. “Buzz helps create a work-at-home environment that is collaborative and productive. For example, our Work at Home group on Buzz has 16% more members since Humana encouraged all employees who are able to work from home to do so (on March 12).”
“Even more impressive is that the number of ‘messages read’ within the group – which is a good measure of what information employees are looking for – has grown 400%. Employees are coaching and supporting one another, including offering advice on how to effectively lead work-at-home teams,” he said.
Confidentiality and privacy are still top priorities, Cude said, so Humana’s leaders often reinforce policies and practices that protect information for the company and its member customers.
“Humana’s work-at-home policy has been very successful over a number of years and has resulted in higher levels of performance and employee engagement,” Cude said.
“As part of work at home and agile, employees work their entire schedule from their Humana-approved home location or a mix of home and Humana facilities, and have completed required documentation,” he said. “Employees may periodically come into the office for team meetings, one on one meetings, or Humana events, but do not maintain a designated workspace in a Humana facility.”
To help combat the spread of COVID-19, Humana in March broadened work-at-home agreements and helped employees learn how to transition their work.
Humana will continue to supports its members and health care providers by finding solutions that yield quick results, said Humana CEO Bruce Broussard and Cigna CEO David Cordani in a joint statement.
“The strength of the human spirit in this challenging time has been extraordinary – and humbling. This is what has fueled our great country for over 200 years and will propel us forward through one of the greatest challenges to our health care system,” the two CEOs said.
Share your story
We want to hear how business leaders across the state have responded to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the efforts to stop the spread of it. If your business would like to share its story, email Lorie at [email protected].