Research Aimed at Improving Patient Health and Lowering Costs; Implications for Health Care Delivery in the US
Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET), a leading global diversified health care benefits company, and its philanthropic arm, the Aetna Foundation, jointly have awarded a $235,000 grant to London-based The King’s Fund to analyse the most effective models in the United Kingdom of closely coordinated health care for people with chronic illnesses. The results of the two-year study have the potential to influence health care improvements in the United States as well as in the UK.
“Chronic health conditions account for the largest share of health care spending internationally, and we anticipate the impact to grow as populations age and become more susceptible to multiple chronic illnesses,” said Sandip Patel, president of Aetna International, which includes Aetna Health Services UK, and a member of the Aetna Foundation’s board of directors.
“Although the United Kingdom and the US have different systems for paying for health care, the two nations face similar challenges in delivering high-quality health care while moderating the escalating costs of providing care. Effective care coordination, particularly for patients with medically complex and disabling conditions, holds great promise on both sides of the Atlantic. We are pleased to support The King’s Fund, arguably one of England’s most respected health policy organisations, in its efforts to unlock the way to higher-quality health care,” he said.
Care coordination is often defined as a patient-centred, interdisciplinary approach where all of a patient's needs are managed across providers and settings in an integrated, cost-effective manner. Strong primary care, communication systems linking providers, professionals and patients, targeted case management, patient engagement, and quality improvement measures based on outcome metrics are frequently cited characteristics.
In the United States, care coordination is a central component of current health care improvement initiatives, such as the patient-centred medical home and accountable care organisations, also known as ACOs. In the UK, health care systems are adopting care coordination as a primary strategy to integrate care for people with multiple, long-term chronic conditions.
“Studies suggest that care coordination can deliver higher-quality services by improving collaboration among providers and encouraging patients to be proactive in their treatment,” said Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund. “But we don’t yet have a good understanding of which care coordination strategies – or combinations of strategies – are the most effective in producing the best outcomes for patients, particularly those with complex or multiple health issues. The goal of our study is to determine the factors that comprise best-practices models of coordinated care and develop practical approaches that health care systems can adopt to improve patient health for this expanding population.”
The King’s Fund will conduct in-depth case studies of five geographically and socioeconomically diverse health care systems in the UK that have demonstrated their effectiveness in delivering innovative care coordination to older patients with complex chronic conditions. The case studies will feature detailed analyses of how each organisation developed its care coordination model, and the changes to services, systems or professional roles that were required. The profiles will also detail the barriers that had to be overcome and the conditions that facilitated adoption of the care coordination models. Included will be the care coordination system’s impact on patient experiences, health outcomes and costs.
Through close analysis of the similarities and differences among the five care coordination models it will study, The King’s Fund seeks to identify the core components of successful care coordination and produce practical plans that other health care systems can incorporate into their health care practices.
The results of The King’s Fund study are expected in 2013.
Improving health care through better integrated and coordinated care is one of the Aetna Foundation’s three programme areas, in addition to fighting the obesity epidemic and promoting racial and health care equity. Over the past 18 months, the Aetna Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $1.5 million for projects in the United States to promote integrated health care and measure the effectiveness of integrated care models.
The Aetna and Aetna Foundation award to The King’s Fund marks their first grant making in the UK.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $394 million in grants and sponsorships, including $15.6 million in 2010. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.3 million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the US; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.
Aetna is one of the US’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioural health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labour groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.
About Aetna International
Aetna International is committed to helping create a stronger, healthier global community by delivering comprehensive health benefits and health management solutions worldwide. Aetna International's expatriate business is one of the industry's largest and most prominent US-based international health benefits providers, supporting more than 400,000 members worldwide. The organisation’s expatriate offerings include medical, dental, vision, life, disability and emergency assistance. Aetna International’s health management business collaborates with health care systems, government entities and plan sponsors around the world to design and build locally-applied health management solutions to improve health, quality and cost outcomes. For more information, see www.aetnainternational.com.
About the King’s Fund
The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas. We have a long history of looking at how the health system can support those with complex chronic conditions. For more information, see www.kingsfund.org.uk.