Camden Coalition, healthy community, healthy city

In Good Company

Aetna Foundation, Camden Coalition collaborate to improve community health

Feb 13 2017
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A logo of the "Neighborhood Health Compass"

One percent of patients are responsible for 23 percent of health care spending in the United States, according to The National Institute for Healthcare Management. The Aetna Foundation and the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, a new initiative of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, are teaming up to expand the use of cross-sector data among health care providers to improve the health of those who use health care services most frequently.

One percent of patients are responsible for 23 percent of health care spending in the U.S.

Called the “Neighborhood Health Compass,” the project will allow both organizations to work together to improve the health of residents in communities across the country.

Jeffery Brenner, MD, executive director of the Camden Coalition, created a “hot-spotting” technique by analyzing a variety of data from clinical and non-clinical sources. He was able to identify the heaviest users of health care in Camden, New Jersey, and improve their care. For his work, he received the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2013.

The Camden Coalition will receive a grant to plan and develop a national program office to identify communities that could benefit from Brenner’s approach. The office will also provide technical assistance and support for the community to improve the health of patients facing complex medical and social challenges.

Improving the health of residents in communities across the country

“Our vision is to make Camden the first city in the country to ‘bend the cost curve’ while improving quality,” Brenner said. “Using this grant, we can not only expand our ability to share our learnings among health care providers, but also support the development of similar models that will truly improve the health of communities and neighborhoods across the country.”

Realizing a person’s zip code is a better indicator of health than their genetic code, the Aetna Foundation has worked to help cities and communities address health disparities. Since 2014, the Foundation awarded more than $18 million in grants and sponsorships to building a healthier word, community by community.

“We know that cities and counties have the power to create a long-term positive health impact throughout their communities by addressing social determinants of health,” said Garth Graham, MD, MPH, president of the Aetna Foundation. “Dr. Brenner’s approach has improved the health of the residents of Camden, and we will work collaboratively with the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs to expand this model for improving care for patients with significant health care needs.”

Helping create healthy communities

The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, launched in 2016, features a partnership between the Foundation, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Counties and collaboration with CEOs for Cities. Designed to create economically competitive, inclusive and equitable communities, the Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to cities and counties that show measureable improvements in health outcomes over the course of several years. Organizations competing in the Challenge, known as the HealthyCommunity50, were announced in September.

The Foundation also awarded grants to 23 nonprofit organizations in September as part of its Cultivating Healthy Communities initiative. The program aims to strength healthy equity and make it possible for people to have more healthy days.