Personalities: The Virtues of Simplicity

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Anthony Welters has taken a holistic approach to helping disadvantaged children become leaders in their communities, earning him the 2008 National Medical Fellowships Humanitarian Award. As the executive vice president of Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group and president of the company's public and senior market groups, Welters is applying that same strategy to creating a healthcare system that is cohesive—and above all, simple—for people to navigate.

On meeting the healthcare needs of seniors. We need active engagement by those over 50, along with a user-friendly healthcare system, so that people are in a position to make informed judgments. We are so segmented that people have a hard time navigating the system. Simplicity should be the operative word inside a system that is dedicated to helping people live quality lives.

On eliminating cultural barriers. We know that certain treatments work in targeted groups and in others they don't work. For instance, hypertension in African Americans is a big issue, and we know certain strategies work in reducing the level of risk associated with hypertension. What we have not been good about is integrating [those strategies] in how we encourage people to access care.

On UnitedHealth Group's effort to simplify. We started with our own employees by making data available, helping people understand the data, and trying to be more user friendly. As large as we are as an enterprise, we are spending a lot of time trying to be locally focused.

On community programs and healthcare. My wife and I established the AnBryce Foundation about 13 years ago. It evolved out of a desire to give disadvantaged kids the opportunity to go to an away camp. We integrate the camp experience with an education experience—math, science, and an understanding about healthcare. Along the way, we added scholarships for kids who would be the first in their families to attend college. But it's not just scholarships—it is a mentoring program. When you take someone from a community, give them the best possible education, and put them back into the community, they become a community leader. But more importantly, they galvanize the imagination of a generation within that community. I see that as a critical ingredient in the roadmap to changing both expectations and disparities inside healthcare.

Carrie Vaughan

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