April 20, 2011 | last updated May 31, 2012 5:36 pm

Aetna's $1M backs four care R&D studies

Hartford managed care provider Aetna Inc.'s philanthropic arm is dispensing $250,000 each to four U.S. hospitals and medical schools to underwrite their R&D into improving future delivery of health care to children, the needy and the chronically diseased.

Aetna Foundation Inc. said the $1 million grant will be split between Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital; Houston's Baylor College of Medicine; the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); and the University of Florida.

Each is studying the feasibility and merits of providing integrated health care in patient-centered medical homes.

Foundation President Dr. Anne C. Beal says that while providers know the benefits of well-integrated and well-coordinated care, such as better patient experiences, lower costs and fewer medical errors, there are shortcomings in the current model.

"We do not fully understand,'' Beal said in a statement Wednesday announcing the grant, "the links between good coordination and good outcomes nor have we identified the best pathways to achieving strong care coordination.''

The medical centers' research will fill that knowledge gap, she said.

The four research grants are:

  • Baylor to study how primary care medical homes can lower the cost of care and improve the health of children with chronic physical, developmental or behavioral conditions.
  • Massachusetts General 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.
  • UCSF for a two-year study to create a rigorously tested survey tool to assess integrated care around the country. The research will be among the first to develop metrics of integrated care based on the needs, experiences and expectations of patients with chronic conditions.
  • The University of Florida in Gainesville for a two-year study exploring whether primary care medical homes can improve the health of patients with diabetes.
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