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What will the $15M gifted by Humana be used for?

Humana The University was donated $15 million by Humana Health, an insurance company, in part to help the College of Medicine. | Owen Zinkweg/The Cougar

The University was donated $15 million by Humana Health, an insurance company, in part to help the College of Medicine. | Owen Zinkweg/The Cougar


Humana, a Fortune 500 health insurance company, is partnering with the University over the next 10 years to help provide a talent pipeline of graduates that includes a gift of $15 million.

The donation will go toward the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Optometry and Social Work, which will be combined to form the new Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute. Along with covering the startup costs for the College of Medicine, some of the money will go to funding endowed chairs, which are faculty positions permanently paid for by Humana.

The new partnership hopes to focus on advancing population health, improving health outcomes and expanding the use of value-based payment models, according to the news release.

Population health refers to going beyond the health of an individual patient to the health of numerous patients, said Dr. Stephen Spann, the dean of the College of Medicine.

Health outcomes refer to the end result of the health care provided.

“Value based payment, which is the way that health care reimbursement is moving, is to pay, not for volume or for procedures or for fee-for-service, but to pay providers to take good care of people,” Spann said.

Talks for the collaboration began early this year. The University had been interested in pursuing a partnership with Humana for the last few years, said Mark Mathis, director of corporate communications for Humana.

“In early 2018, Humana engaged in formal conversations with UH to discuss the potential opportunities that would benefit both organizations while shaping a new educational approach for future healthcare professionals,” Mathis said.

The opportunity to partner with a new medical school was too good to pass up, Mathis said. The health insurance company hopes to bring experience in multiple areas of the medical field to the University. The company will also provide adjunct professors, partnership on research, internships and more.

The partnership plans to better the healthcare in underserved communities. Humana’s Bold Goal aims to improve the health of the communities it serves by 20 percent by 2020, according to the news release. The College of Medicine hopes to help rural parts of Houston and Texas, where healthcare is most scarce.

To achieve its goal, the company hopes to address social determinants of health including food insecurity, social isolation and inadequate transportation.

“We have a commitment to the underserved in Houston, in Texas and beyond,” Spann said. “Training our students in and exposing them to real-world practices in population health, clinical quality and new payment models will provide them with a tremendous opportunity to improve the health of our community,”

The tuition of the first class of medical students has already been fully paid for by an anonymous donation. The 30-student inaugural class is expected to be admitted when the College of Medicine opens in 2020.

“I hope that they will be leaders in changes in our health care system and that they’ll really represent a new generation of physicians,” Spann said.

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