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CVS announces new health platform for social determinants of health

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Approximately 60% of a person’s life expectancy is influenced by their everyday activities outside of the doctor’s office our individual behaviors, as well as social and environmental factors. To address this issue and help people improve their health outside of a clinical setting, CVS Health has announced the first in a series of business programs with an enhanced focus on addressing social determinants of health.

The platform also includes the investments being made at the community level as part of the recently announced Building Healthier Communities initiative, which is a $100 million commitment being funded over five years by CVS Health and the CVS Health and Aetna Foundations intended to make community health and wellness central to the company’s corporate social responsibility platform Better Health, Better Community, Better World.

“Out of about 6,000 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 Lynch, executive vice president, CVS Health and president, Aetna. “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.”

As part of this effort, CVS Health will collaborate with Unite Us, the leading social care coordination platform, to help some of Aetna’s most vulnerable Medicaid and Dual eligible members more easily access social services within their community. Selected Aetna members will be able to use Unite Us’ aggregated network of social care providers, which they can find on their own through a proprietary technology resource developed by Unite Us. Members can also be referred by a community health provider or Aetna nurse case managers who will receive information through this platform. The two companies are also exploring integration through various CVS Health retail assets.

“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 co-founder and president. “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.”

CVS Health and Unite Us will make these programs and services available to Aetna Medicaid members in Louisville, Kentucky during the second half of the year. During this same time, the programs and services will also be available to Aetna’s Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan members (DSNP – people eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare) in Tampa, Florida and Southeastern Louisiana.

In addition to being a community health issue, an inability to address social determinants of health can also result in higher health care costs and reduced worker productivity for employers, particularly businesses with a significant number of low-wage workers. To help employers better understand this connection, Aetna has developed an analytics tool that will quantify the probable impact of social determinants of health on an employer’s health plan results. The first release of the tool with initial functionality is scheduled for this month, with additional capabilities planned for the next release, scheduled for early 2020.

Beyond helping employers understand how social determinants of health are affecting their employee population, this tool will also help guide CVS Health across all lines of business to determine how the organization can most effectively deploy the right interventions to the plan sponsors and individuals that are most likely to benefit. These interventions could include plan sponsor activities like plan design changes, provider network adjustments and refinements to clinical outreach. Other actions could include collaborating with community organizations that are already working on addressing social determinants of health and determining the best way to leverage the presence of CVS stores in the community. These types of interventions are currently being tested in pilot programs with several large employers.

With a focus on addressing housing insecurity in key markets, CVS Health is making significant investments, totaling more than $50 million by the end of this year, in affordable housing across the country to help provide support for underserved and at-risk populations.

In the past seven months, CVS Health and Aetna have closed on commitments to invest $40.5 million in affordable housing that will help construct or rehabilitate over 1,600 affordable housing units in 19 communities in six states. These investments include over 100 permanent supportive housing units reserved for people requiring mental health service; are homeless or at risk of homelessness; have HIV/AIDS diagnoses; have substance abuse issues; or have long-term chronic health conditions.

In addition to developing these housing units, the company and its investment partners are working with community organizations to provide access to services such as independent living skills, cooking and nutrition, financial literacy, health information classes, resident outreach and engagement, client centered treatment plans and social support.

“It’s hard to focus on your health when you are worried about your housing situation. Research has shown that providing safe and secure housing options can help improve health outcomes, particularly for individuals with chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Garth Graham, Vice President, Community Health & Impact, CVS Health and President, Aetna Foundation. “Our continued investment in affordable housing and ongoing collaboration with community groups can support those individuals that need it the most and help improve their health and well-being.”

Since 1997, Aetna, a CVS Health company, has invested more than $1 billion in affordable housing and community investments. These investments have led to the building and renovation of over 92,000 affordable rental units, positively impacting hundreds of thousands of low-income individuals, families, and seniors.


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