Humana CMO: AI can revolutionize patient care

As the healthcare industry continues to embrace AI and unlock its potential, Humana Chief Medical Officer Roy Beveridge, MD, believes the technology will transform patient care. 

Humana, one of the nation's largest health insurance providers with more than 16 million members, is a growing system with expanding services. It closed two multibillion-dollar deals in 2018, including Kindred at Home and Curo Health Services.

“I think it’s going to revolutionize how we take care of patients,” Beveridge told AI in Healthcare. “It will become a really powerful adjunct for clinicians to help care for their patients. I think it will empower patients to participate more greatly in their own care.”

Beveridge, who has been at Humana since 2013 and plans to retire in the course of 2019, discussed AI and Humana’s push to utilize data and analytics during the annual HIMSS in February. Last year, the company launched its digital health and analytics initiative with a goal of using data to create new tools for its services.

Beveridge said data and analytics is a necessity for healthcare providers and value-based care models and they are increasingly important for the role of a CMO. Additionally, though many of Humana’s members are 65 and older, they live in a world full of changing technology and are quick to embrace societal changes. That acknowledgement is why data and analytics have become a top priority for the company.

“With value-based care (and) outcome-based measurements, the requirement is to have good data and analytics. Without that, one has no impact,” he said. “The greater you are with data analytics, the greater one’s impact is going to be. So, I view it as a continuum, and I expect us to have really good data analytics because we have to have really good clinical outcomes.”

With respect to AI, people already unknowingly use it in their everyday lives, and applying the technology to the healthcare and insurance industries could produce better patient care, Beveridge said. For example, applying AI to the Humana's Kindred at Home business could mean utilizing video and patient monitoring to help nurses better care for patients in their homes. AI could also connect patients to necessary services.

“For instance, if you’ve got a patient with a heart attack, diabetes and some other medical condition, having AI brings those together to help predict what’s going to happen, what (resources) this person might need,” he said. 

However, adopting new technology doesn’t come without growing pains, like overspending, he said. To overcome that, he encouraged healthcare providers to identify an issue and ensure there’s no available solution before they invest and buy new technology.

Challenges shouldn’t stop healthcare providers and administrators from embracing AI and other new technologies, he urged.

“You can’t be a CMO without embracing technology. We as CMOs should be running toward technology and not running away from it,” said Beveridge, who plans to retire this year. “If I were to give advice (to Humana’s new CMO), it would be pretty much what I just said. Change is all all around us. Accept that the world is changing and changing quickly, and figure out new technologies, new ways to do things that can be applied helpfully for the care of our members.”