Aetna (NYSE: AET) was honored today by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) with the 2014 Innovation in Reducing Health Care Disparities Award. Aetna is a three-time recipient of the award that recognizes organizations for their commitment to equality in health care and exceptional support for cultural diversity.
"On behalf of the National Business Group on Health, I am pleased to announce that Aetna has been selected as a winner of the fourth annual Innovation in Reducing Health Care Disparities Award," said Helen Darling, president and CEO of National Business Group on Health. "Their ongoing effort to address disparities for African Americans and Hispanics with diabetes in the Texas region is certainly one to be commended. We applaud their focus to expand and grow efforts to address specific health care inequities."
Aetna's Racial and Ethnic Equality Dashboard report revealed that diabetic African American and Hispanic members in Texas had twice the level of poor control of their diabetes. As a result, these members were potentially twice as likely to suffer the health consequences of uncontrolled diabetes, including amputations, blindness and other debilitating, potentially life-threatening complications.
To address this disparity, Aetna developed a unique provider-focused pilot program for African American and Hispanic members with diabetes in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Together with the Medical Clinic of North Texas (MCNT), Aetna found that using a bilingual nurse diabetic educator coupled with culturally- and linguistically-appropriate member health information was an effective intervention for improving diabetes care in provider practices.
Over the two-year pilot program, there was an overall reduction in Hemoglobin A1C of 1.6 points. It has been shown that a one percent point reduction translates to 21 percent fewer deaths from strokes, 37 percent fewer eye and kidney complications, and 14 percent fewer heart attacks.
"Many elements contribute to health disparities, including poor care quality, environmental factors, poverty, disabilities, personal behavior, and inadequate access to care," said Wayne Rawlins, M.D., national medical director for clinical thought leadership at Aetna. "By addressing these disparities, we have improved the health, clinical outcomes, productivity and quality of life for members and their families."
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, overall health quality in America has improved over the last few decades, but many inequalities still exist.
During the last 12 years, Aetna's Racial and Ethnic Equality Initiative has sponsored numerous studies and pilots to address health care inequality, implemented culturally-appropriate care delivery programs, and awarded millions of dollars in grants to support programs that address racial and ethnic equity in health care.