2010 Diversity Annual Report
Engaged: Aetna’s effort to improve health equity engages partners, providers, company’s ERGs
For nearly a decade, Aetna has been at the forefront of the search for solutions for one of health care’s most complicated challenges: the inequalities in care and health outcomes experienced by people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The company also has implemented culturally oriented care delivery programs in areas such as maternal and child health and breast health.
“We continue to strengthen our ability to analyze member data in ways that uncover potential solutions to disparities in health care and that drive targeted business initiatives.”
Aetna has been collecting racial and ethnic data from its plan members on a voluntary basis since 2002. Nearly 6 million currently active members have since provided this information, which is critical to understanding inequities in health care and outcomes. To better leverage this data, Aetna has created the Racial and Ethnic Equality Dashboard, which combines medical claims, pharmacy and laboratory data to clearly identify member disparities and which helps to shape targeted approaches to meet the diverse needs of plan members.
In 2010, Aetna’s research team began to investigate ways to achieve even greater member participation in the program. They turned to members of Aetna’s African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for their views. Taking part in focus groups and surveys, the ERG members shared a range of ideas. For example, they noted that prospective volunteers need to be told precisely how the data would be used and, just as important, how it would not be used. They also advised that Aetna clearly describe the line of sight between the data collected and specific quality improvement activities.
2010 marked significant strides in Aetna’s health equity efforts. In April, Population Health Management published a landmark paper on hypertension among African Americans, which chronicled a study Aetna conducted in collaboration with the Morehouse School of Medicine and Health & Technology Vector, Inc., and with partial funding from Sanofi-Aventis. In August, the company announced the findings of an analysis that showed that African Americans and Hispanics use emergency rooms (ER) for asthma more often than Whites, leading to significantly higher levels of potentially avoidable ER visits. As a result of this analysis, Aetna launched an intervention to improve the quality of asthma care for minority members.