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Health Care Innovations


The Issues 

Repairing a fractured health care system and eliminating gaps in shared information and communication that detract dramatically from patient safety and quality in health care are two goals of integrated health care.

Integrated health care starts with good primary care and refers to the delivery of comprehensive health care services that are well coordinated with good communication among providers.  Patients are informed and involved in their treatment.   Care is high quality and cost effective.  Essential to integrated health care delivery is a high-performing primary care provider who can manage the delivery of seamless, well-coordinated care and serve as the patient’s medical home.

At the heart of integrated health care is coordinated care, which we define as the process of managing all of a patient's needs across providers and settings. Care is usually coordinated by the primary care provider, who takes responsibility for close communication and collaboration among all members of a patient's health care team -- specialists, therapists, facilities administrators, social workers, nurses and others -- as well as with the patient and family members.  The goal is to ensure optimal care and avoid duplications and errors that result from the overuse, underuse or misuse of diagnostic tests, procedures, or prescribed medications.

Coordinated care has been identified as a key component of high-quality health care by the Institute of Medicine’s Framework for the National Healthcare Quality Report, the National Priorities Partnership and the National Committee for Quality Assurance

February 2010 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association explores and more deeply defines integrated health care and notes that fully integrated health care systems have proven to be some of the highest-performing health care providers in America.

Our Approach 

The Aetna Foundation is advancing an integrated health care agenda that focuses on care coordination and builds on a foundation of strong primary care. We also believe that well-coordinated care  is essential to achieving The Triple Aim goals of improving health outcomes, enhancing patients’ experience, and reducing the per capita cost of health care. Well-coordinated care can improve health outcomes, lead to better patient experiences, be cost effective and can reduce medical errors. However, the links between care coordination and these outcomes, as well as the best way to establish and maintain good care coordination, need greater study and exploration – work the Aetna Foundation plans to support. 

What We Will Support

The Aetna Foundation seeks to support projects that promote evidence-based models of care coordination that can lead to high-quality, patient-centered health care services, improve health outcomes and lower costs. Our goal is to demonstrate the key components, best practices and benefits of care coordination that is centered on strong primary care.

Examples of grants we would support include projects or studies that:

  • Develop standards and metrics of care coordination in ambulatory care settings.
  • Evaluate models of care coordination that enhance providers’ communication with each other and with their patients and lead to improved patient outcomes and experiences with their care.
  • Evaluate methods of care coordination for engaging patients as partners in their care, particularly in the management of chronic conditions.
  • Identify best practices to align financial and other incentives for achieving well-coordinated care.
  • Identify and assess models of care coordination that reduce the cost of care while improving patient health outcomes.

While there are many great opportunities available to fund efforts that improve care coordination, there are specific types of projects we are not inclined to support at this time. These include:

  • Evaluations of care coordination efforts that do not include a primary care provider as one component of the information exchange, e.g., coordination of care between hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The adoption of health information technology systems.
  • Operating costs or implementation costs of programs to enhance communications among providers or between providers and patients.
  • The adoption or implementation of patient navigator or health literacy programs.

We encourage you to read about our recently awarded national and regional integrated health care grants.

Related Links

Recently funded Integrated Health Care projects

Read additional information about our grant guidelines 

Other Program Areas


Racial and Ethnic Health Care Equity

Our Mission
Our mission
Our mission is to promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone, while supporting the communities
                                           we serve. 

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