future of medicine

University of Houston teams up with health care company for value-based care program

The University of Houston in partnership with Humana is now offering a six-course, fully online program focusing on value-based care. Photo via UH.edu

Last week, the University of Houston announced a new online program that will provide specialized value-based care training for providers, academia and other business and industry professionals.

UH teamed up with Kentucky-based health insurance giant, Humana, to create the new Value-based Care Specialization program that will teach the fundamentals and real-world application of value-based care. The flexible, fully-online program is being provided via the collaborative Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute and through global online learning platform Coursera.

"This readily available and affordable option will support those who are working with practices and providers to create better outcomes for their patients," says Tray Cockerell, director of strategy advancement for Humana, in a news release. "It's more important than ever, with the tumult caused by COVID-19, that practices focus on prevention and care coordination.

"We learned in 2020 that providers in value-based care agreements were better positioned to withstand the financial impact the pandemic brought on the health care industry because they had established patient-centered medical practices.," he continues. "Because they could quickly pivot their resources into action to best serve patients, their income was not as drastically affected as those of their fee-for-service peers."

Recent surveys have shown that there is a varied understanding of the definition of value-based care within the health care industry, and now more than ever there is a need to retool the workforce.

"It's essential that those who work to improve the health of their communities speak the same language," says Dr. LeChauncy Woodard, general internist and founding director, Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute at the University of Houston, in the release. "The collaboration on this content assures that everyone, from the physician and nurse, to social workers, pharmacists and claims representatives, as well as consumers of health care understand what it takes to work together. These multisector partnerships help to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care and achieving the best outcomes at the lowest possible cost."

The program consists of six courses and a capstone project, and each course features a few learning modules and a summative assignment. Participants can take any of the six courses independently — receiving a certificate for each — or collectively for the specialization designation, per the release.

"The health care industry is rapidly changing, and high-quality, flexible learning can help support medical professionals preparing for the future," says Betty Vandenbosch, chief content officer at Coursera, in the release. "We are excited to partner with leaders such as the University of Houston and Humana to offer job-relevant content in the emerging area of value-based care."

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Building Houston

 
 

Emily Cisek, CEO and co-founder of The Postage, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss tech optimizing after-life planning, B-to-C startup challenges, and a national expansion. Photo courtesy of The Postage

Anyone who's ever lost a loved one knows how stressful the process can be. Not only are you navigating your own grief, but you're bombarded with decisions you have to make. And if that loved one wasn't prepared — as most aren't — then the process is more overwhelming than it needs to be.

On top of that, Emily Cisek realized — through navigating three family deaths back to back — how archaic of a process it was. Rather than wait and see if anything changed, Cisek jumped on the market opportunity.

"I just knew there had to be a better way, and that's why I started The Postage," Cisek, co-founder and CEO of the Houston-based company, says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "My background had historically been in bringing offline businesses online, and I started doing some research on how I could make this space better. At the time, there really wasn't anything out there."

The tech-enabled platform allows users of all ages to plan for their demise in every way — from saving and sharing memories when the time comes to organizing pertinent information for the loved ones left behind. And, as of last month, users can no generate their own last will and testament.

"We launched the online will maker — it wasn't in my roadmap for another six months or so — because every single person that was coming in was looking at something else on our platform, but then going to the will part and asking, 'Hey is this something I can create here?'" Cisek says.

Recognizing that this was a good opportunity to generate new users, Cisek quickly added on the feature for a flat $75 fee. Then, members pay $3.99 a month to be able to edit their will whenever they need to and also receive access to everything else on the platform.

Cisek saw a huge opportunity to grow with the pandemic, which put a spotlight after-life planning. The silver lining of it all was that more people were discussing after-life planning with their family members.

"We're having more open dialogue about life and end-of-life planning that I don't see any other scenario really bringing that to light," she explains. "In some ways, it's been positive because having the conversation with people has been easier than it had been before."

While anyone can access The Postage's platform, Cisek says she's focused on getting the word out nationally. Following some imminent funding and partnerships, national marketing and growth campaigns are on the horizon.

Cisek shares more on her career and he unique challenges she faces as a B-to-C entrepreneur on the podcast. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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