Aetna backs study to improve healthcare quality

Aetna has awarded a 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 healthcare improvements in the UK.

Sandip Patel of Aetna says, "Chronic health conditions account for the largest share of healthcare spending internationally, and we anticipate the impact to grow as populations age and become more susceptible to multiple chronic illnesses. Effective care coordination, particularly for patients with medically complex and disabling conditions, holds great promise."

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.

Healthcare systems are adopting care coordination as a primary strategy to integrate care for people with multiple, long-term chronic conditions. Chris Ham of The King's Fund says,” Studies suggest that care coordination can deliver higher-quality services by improving collaboration among providers and encouraging patients to be proactive in their treatment. But we do not 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.

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Aetna backs study to improve healthcare quality
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