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CVS, Aetna Expand Social Determinants of Health Initiatives, Announce New Platform

Part of their “Building Healthier Communities” initiative, CVS and Aetna recently announced a collaboration project with Unite Us, a social care coordination platform, as one of the first of a series of business programs focused on addressing patients’ social determinants of health.

Building Healthier Communities is a 5-year, $100 million commitment to support critical programs and partnerships with local and national nonprofit organizations. 

According to a press release, the Unite Us platform will first and foremost support the most vulnerable Medicaid and dual eligible members. The platform contains aggregated networks of social care providers, providing opportunity for patients to more easily access services available in their areas. Unite Us also has referral capabilities connecting patients with community health providers or nurse case managers.

“Out of about 6000 waking hours in a year, most people only spend a handful in a doctor’s office or hospital—you spend the vast majority of your time in your community,” said Karen S Lynch, executive vice president, CVS Health and president, Aetna, in a statement. “CVS Health is a part of nearly 10,000 communities across the country, so by going beyond our significant philanthropic efforts and addressing social determinants of health through the products and programs our company develops, we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve the health of individuals and communities across America.”

Social determinants of health are defined by the World Health Organization as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, that are shaped by money, power, and resources in every walk of life. Health care professionals across the industry are seeking to improve care by addressing each of these determinants.

“Our mission is to connect individuals and families across the United States to the services they need through collaboration with local service providers, shared infrastructure, and an inclusive approach for those in need,” said Taylor Justice, Unite Us cofounder and president, in a statement. “Working with CVS Health, we will foster a community of care and a local support system to empower community members to make the most of the services available to them.”

The platform and subsequent programs released will be made available to Aetna Medicaid members in Louisville, KY. Simultaneous to this release, programs and services will also be made available to Aetna’s Duel-Eligible Special Needs Plan members, for both Medicare and Medicaid in Tampa, FL, and southeastern Louisiana.

Additional research into helping employers identify and address social determinants of health is also part of CVS and Aetna’s initiative. Aetna is developing an analytics tool that will allow employers to quantify and measure various social determinants impact on an employees’ health plan, enabling an employer to provide the most effective opportunities for care.

CVS and Aetna are also focusing on investing in affordable housing, with approximately $50 million allocated to help provide support for underserved and at-risk populations across the country.—Edan Stanley

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