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Dr Harold L. Paz Discusses Aetna's Plan to Address Social Determinants of Health

Aetna has developed a number of initiatives and partnerships to help address the social determinants of health for needy patients outside of the clinical setting, according to Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Aetna.


Aetna has developed a number of initiatives and partnerships to help address the social determinants of health for needy patients outside of the clinical setting, according to Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Aetna.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How is Aetna recognizing and addressing the impact of social determinants of health?

We have a number of different initiatives underway that look at that. We have our Healthy Community initiative through the Aetna Foundation, where we’re focusing on the issues within communities, the larger social issues within communities, that address health and health status and aim to increase the number of healthy days in a community.

We also have very focused approaches to do this. We just announced last month AetnaCare. AetnaCare is a new, innovative approach to driving improved health status for members, individuals, beginning with analytics, identifying individuals based on their needs, and then addressing that through the formation of care maps. Care maps look at the needs of individuals outside of the traditional care setting, so it’s not the same thing as a hospital protocol or an ED protocol, an emergency room protocol, but instead looks at the activation steps to improve health status for an individual, outside of the traditional care settings.

Focused primarily on the home and looking at how we can create a health ecosystem around the individual, bringing in various types of solutions such as exercise, nutrition, looking for ways to improve adherence to medication. And to take the steps necessary to avoid what are often the triggers for hospitalization and emergency room visits, particularly in individuals with complex medical conditions. That work is done in the home in this model by a nurse working alongside members that have a high degree of need.

Finally, in that health ecosystem is a series of partnerships that bring together various solutions to offer improved health status to individuals. We just announced our first partner in AetnaCare, and that’s Merck. Merck has included 2 of their diabetes drugs in the AetnaCare map for type 2 diabetes, and they’re taking financial risk on the outcomes because, again, we think that it’s important to, in creating these ecosystems, to create shared risks. Individuals have a financial risk through their health insurance, their deductibles, which as we know are not insignificant in this day and age. Employers do as well, the community does, in terms of the outcomes. So it in effect is pulling in social determinants of health, socioeconomic determinants of health, it’s looking at environmental determinants of health, which are all extraordinarily important and go beyond traditional healthcare per se. 

 
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