Cajun and Creole foods and a “let the good times roll” attitude make New Orleans and its surrounding parishes a great place to visit, but they're also among the contributing factors making it difficult for residents to maintain healthy lifestyles. Statewide figures show Louisiana has the third-highest diabetes rate in the country at 10.3% and the nation's third-highest rate of heart disease rate at 7.8%.
Such chronic illness, along with the obesity epidemic, continues to vex the healthcare system, driving the need for new approaches to care. In search of such answers, Carol Solomon, CEO of Peoples Health in New Orleans, spearheaded the 2012 alliance between the physician-owned Medicare Advantage HMO and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center to create the Center for Healthcare Advancement. The center established an advisory board that assembles best practices for the treatment and prevention of prevalent chronic conditions and shares them with Peoples Health's network of physicians, who currently treat more than 57,000 Medicare patients. The school then teaches its medical students these protocols.