Aetna, Aetna Foundation Back Study to Help Safety-Net Hospitals Better Integrate and Coordinate Care for Millions of Underserved

Jan 03 2012
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— Research by National Public Health and Hospital Institute Called “Crucial,” as Health System Prepares to Absorb Millions of Newly Insured —

HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Each year, millions of uninsured Americans rely on the nation’s safety-net hospitals to meet the full range of their health care needs, such as primary care visits, specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and medication, in addition to emergency room visits.

To ensure these patients — and the millions more poised to enter the nation’s health system in 2014 — receive high-quality care, Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET), with support from the Aetna Foundation, has awarded a $250,000 research grant to the National Public Health and Hospital Institute (NPHHI), the research affiliate of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH).

The one-year study will analyze best practices in integrated health care to help America’s safety-net hospitals and health systems restructure their services to provide seamless, efficient patient-centered care that improves health outcomes and moderates costs.

“Safety-net hospitals have a tremendous responsibility delivering high volumes of nonemergency health care services to vulnerable populations,” said Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr.P.H., vice president of the Aetna Foundation. “As safety-net institutions adopt new processes that fully integrate and coordinate care for their patients, we should see a significant positive impact on population health in this country, particularly among African Americans and Latinos who make up more than half of safety-net institutions’ patient base. We are pleased to support NPHHI in its research to guide the transformation of public hospitals to more integrated health care delivery systems.”

According to NAPH, uninsured patients had more than eight million doctor visits and nearly three million emergency department visits at its more than 100-member hospitals in 2009, the most recent year data are available. The average NAPH-member hospital delivers almost 600,000 outpatient visits a year, five times the average of other acute care hospitals in the U.S.

To evaluate safety-net hospitals’ readiness to become fully integrated systems, NPHHI will survey NAPH-member organizations, exploring such factors as care coordination practices, operational effectiveness, focus on patients, families and community health, and effective leadership and culture. In addition to achieving a baseline assessment, researchers will inventory specific, critical gaps hindering safety-net hospitals from full integration and develop strategies for addressing those gaps. The NPHHI study also will produce case studies of several safety-net hospitals that have already achieved significant progress in implementing an integrated health care model.

“As hospitals and health systems move toward health care reform’s vision of higher-quality, cost-effective patient-centered care, they must develop services that are seamless for existing patients while also preparing to care for the millions of newly insured,” said Bruce Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., president and CEO of NAPH and NPHHI. “Our research will be crucial to advancing the capability of public hospitals to coordinate and integrate the full range of patient care and benefit millions of vulnerable Americans who rely on their services for all their health care needs.

“Additionally, our study will inform the larger hospital community, policy makers, and private and government health plans of best practices in delivering high-quality, cost-efficient care,” Siegel said.

The results of the NPHHI study are expected in December 2012.

About Aetna

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, behavioral 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, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see

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 U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit

About the National Public Health and Hospital Institute

The National Public Health and Hospital Institute is a private, nonprofit organization established in 1988 to address major issues facing public hospitals, safety-net organizations, underserved communities and related health policy issues of national priority. NPHHI is the research affiliate of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. For more information, go to



Susan Millerick, 860-273-0536

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