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“We get terrible value right now in the United States for the vast sums we invest in health care.”

Kevin Grumbach, MD
Chair, Dept. of Family and Community Medicine, University of California,
San Francisco

Innovations in Health Care Delivery

Imagine a health care system where your primary care doctor, your specialists, your pharmacist and even your hospital work together as a tightly coordinated team. Everyone providing care knows your medical history, medications and prescribed treatment. No gaps in information. No duplicated tests. No avoidable emergency room visits or hospitalizations. No confusion about your treatment.

At the Aetna Foundation, we believe that well-integrated, well-communicated and well-coordinated health care can deliver higher-quality care with better outcomes and lower costs. For patients with a complex illness or chronic condition, well-coordinated care is essential to optimal health.

To help develop integrated care as a best-practice model of health care delivery, in 2010 we invested $1 million in several research projects designed to deepen our understanding of the pathways and roadblocks to improved integration of health care services.

At the University of California, San Francisco, researchers are creating a patient questionnaire to measure the success of health care systems in meeting the needs and expectations of patients. Based on focus groups and patient interviews, this measurement tool will be the first of its kind to incorporate the patient voice in assessments of integrated care systems and will help health care institutions modify their services to better address patient needs.

Other grants addressing integrated care include a study by RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation, to examine the impact of poor care coordination on the quality and cost of care; a project by the Brookings Institution to explore a range of effective approaches for implementing and evaluating value-based purchasing programs; and an analysis by Massachusetts General Hospital to study whether intensive care management and integrated care can improve the health outcomes of economically disadvantaged patients with multiple chronic conditions while decreasing the cost of their treatment.