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Aetna Innovation Labs Focuses on Programs That Measurably Improve Patient Outcomes

Two of the first projects aim to speed the identification and use of the best clinical practices in cancer care, and achieve optimal health for those at-risk for metabolic syndrome

Monday, August 27, 2012 10:03 am EDT

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HARTFORD, Conn.
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NYSE:
AET
"While we are expanding Aetna’s approach to metabolic syndrome to include a variety of medical management and patient engagement strategies, we need a data-driven approach to quickly know what works best and for which patients"

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Aetna (NYSE: AET) announced the Aetna Innovation Labs, a dedicated team that will leverage data and best practices that have the greatest potential to improve patient outcomes or demonstrate measurable value to customers, health care providers or members. The Aetna Innovation Labs will allow Aetna to test specific initiatives such as those related to disease prediction and intervention, rapidly determine success rates and impact across populations of members, and quickly expand programs that show promise.

“The marketplace is rapidly changing. Forces such as health care reform, emerging technologies and economic conditions are driving our need to constantly develop innovative and measurable programs to improve health care quality and reduce costs for our customers and members,” said Aetna Chairman, CEO and President Mark T. Bertolini. “The Aetna Innovation Labs is the innovation engine that is helping us stay one step ahead of the changing marketplace. This team is dedicated to developing and leveraging solutions that are two to three years ahead of the market as well as identifying new ideas and bringing them to life.”

The Aetna Innovation Labs is led by Michael Palmer, who joined Aetna in September 2011 after a 25-year career of consulting in IT and business strategy, assessment and execution, large-scale transformation initiatives, and organizational design.

Making Cancer Care More Effective, Efficient and Affordable
In one of its first projects, the Aetna Innovation Labs is working to make cancer care more effective, more affordable and safer for members by deploying technology that promotes the best clinical practices in cancer care, including the eviti clinical decision-support program.

Aetna is making eviti available through its data exchange and applications platform, iNexx®, and launching the program in New York and New Jersey. Participating oncologists will have real-time access to a decision-support tool based on one of the most comprehensive and unbiased digital libraries of evidence-based treatment regimens available. Treatment options are aligned with each patient’s clinical background and benefit plan to simplify payment. Most importantly for the members and their doctors, these options are available in real-time, can be automatically pre-certified by Aetna and begun immediately.

This transparent treatment plan, review and selection process simplifies workflow and streamlines payment for physicians. In addition, it reduces variability in the care received by patients. “We expect adherence to evidence-based care to increase to 80 percent or more once oncologists begin using eviti, further strengthening Aetna’s focus on making cancer care more effective, more affordable and safer for our members,” said Lonny Reisman, M.D., Aetna chief medical officer and chair of the Aetna Innovation Council.

Achieving Better Outcomes for Those At-risk for Metabolic Syndrome and Heart Disease
A second project being undertaken by the Aetna Innovation Labs combines “big data” provided by Aetna with a supercomputer-enabled platform from GNS Healthcare. “Big data” is loosely defined as data sets that are so large and complex that they become awkward to work with using existing database management tools. GNS will apply its technology platform to this data to rapidly discover what types of interventions drive better outcomes in those who are at-risk for metabolic syndrome, and for whom these interventions work best. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors – including large waist size, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar -- that raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The Aetna Innovation Labs intervention program for metabolic syndrome will be tested with a large employer group, and rolled out more broadly based on the results of the pilot program.

“While we are expanding Aetna’s approach to metabolic syndrome to include a variety of medical management and patient engagement strategies, we need a data-driven approach to quickly know what works best and for which patients,” said Dr. Reisman. “This ‘big data’ approach should be enormously helpful as we introduce new interventions, letting us quickly identify what works, what doesn’t, and rapidly adjust as appropriate. Our expectation is that this approach will ultimately allow us to spend less time focused on analytics, and more time focused on the people we serve.”

New Leadership Pushes Aetna’s Focus on Innovation
Palmer, the head of the Aetna Innovation Labs, joined Aetna from Accenture, where he was most recently Global Managing Partner of Accenture’s Medical Technology business. In this role, he also led two of Accenture’s large client relationships focused on improving their businesses and growing profitably.

“The Aetna Innovation Labs is a unique environment within Aetna where we are looking at health care in a totally new way,” said Palmer. “Instead of asking ‘why’ we’re asking ‘why not.’ We’re partnering with innovators, applying emerging technologies that are widely used in the consumer marketplace, and measuring the outcomes. The focus is on improving the lives of the people we serve, while providing a better value for each dollar that is spent on health care.”

Future projects to be undertaken by the Aetna Innovation Labs will include clinical innovations that better predict illnesses and improve life-long health; platform innovations that leverage existing Aetna technologies and identify new technologies; and improving member and provider engagement by better understanding barriers to care and motivators for engaging in a healthy lifestyle.

About Aetna
Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.7 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, Medicaid health care management services and health information technology services. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see http://www.aetna.com/.

Contact:

Aetna
Elizabeth Sell, 215-775-5523
selle@aetna.com