Addressing Social Isolation Among Seniors

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With studies showing social isolation can be as damaging to your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, loneliness can be just as dangerous as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

That's why addressing social isolation is a major focus for Aetna’s Medicare business and care managers, who are taking a more holistic view of senior health to help get them on a path to better health.

With studies showing social isolation can be as damaging to your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, loneliness can be just as dangerous as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
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“The most common challenge with our senior patients, honestly, is that so many of them have no one,” says Aetna Field Case Manager Sarah Fischer, RN. “So many of them don’t have families. One lady said to me, ‘I’m the only one left.’"

Watch the video to see how case managers are introducing seniors to benefits such as the SilverSneakers fitness program, community volunteering and other opportunities for social connection.

“We get them involved, get the area office on aging involved. There are senior newspapers, things like that,” says Sarah. “We just bring these benefits to the member and say, ‘Let’s get you involved in something.’”

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Building Lifelong Connections for Children in Foster Care

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Groups of child welfare professionals work as teams.
Groups of Kansas Department for Children and Families' child welfare professionals and other child welfare professionals from agencies across the state work as teams at the Family Finding Boot Camp. Credit: Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal
Kevin Campbell addresses about 100 social workers during an event.
Kevin Campbell, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness, trains about 100 Kansas social workers during the Family Finding Boot Camp. Credit: Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal

For many of us, the concept of finding family members often involves searching on a genealogy site or signing up for an at-home DNA testing kit. There is an element of fun and intrigue, inspiring individuals to better understand their family roots. For many young children and teens in foster care, however, locating family members isn’t a pastime, but a necessity for daily living. These connections will help them grow and thrive.

Recently, more than 100 child welfare professionals in Kansas participated in the Family Finding Boot Camp, led by child and family welfare expert Kevin Campbell. Aetna Better Health of Kansas, the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF), and Casey Family Programs sponsored the four-day event. As the founder of the Family Finding model, Campbell spoke about key methods and strategies to locate and engage relatives of children currently living in out-of-home care. The goal of Family Finding is to connect each child with a family or a “network” (blood relative or not), so that every child may benefit from the lifelong connections that a family would typically provide.

Healing Children and Families

Over the years of developing Family Finding, Campbell found that most foster children have a large extended family, and if they could connect with five to eight adults who would make a “permanent relational commitment” to the child, it could change outcomes significantly.

“The training is really about how do you heal children who have had such harm done to them? And how do you heal the whole family? Because this kind of generational experience has to stop somewhere.” — Kevin Campbell
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“The training is really about how do you heal children who have had such harm done to them? And how do you heal the whole family? Because this kind of generational experience has to stop somewhere,” said Campbell.

Kellie Hans Reid, foster care coordinator with Aetna Better Health of Kansas, affirmed, “Research shows that traumatic experiences affect children’s health, like metabolic and cardiac health. We also know that we build our lifelong health in childhood. Yet, if we start early enough, there is so much we can do to alleviate the effects of childhood trauma, prevent reoccurrences, and hopefully improve long-term health and disease outcomes.”

Expanding Safety Networks

During the boot camp, Campbell empowered attendees with information on how each of them can help extend the overall safety networks of the children they work with — meaning family, friends or acquaintances that genuinely care about the child and who can serve as a relational resource. Campbell also discussed how to facilitate a community of unconditional love and healing to combat and lower the toxic stress and loneliness these children and their families are experiencing — improving mental and physical health outcomes.

Organized into 27 teams, social welfare professionals collaborated throughout the week to apply the Family Finding model to their current cases. Based on a series of criteria, they prioritized the children who were their biggest worry. By the end of the training, participants reported locating an average of 19 contacts per child, for a total of 500 contacts across all teams combined — this was an increase of 84 percent from the beginning of the week. This number broke the American record for the average number of relatives identified in a Family Finding Boot Camp, which typically averages 14 connections per child.

Key Takeaways

Attendees expressed how the boot camp training had an immediate impact on their practice with families and their individual outlook. Sample words used to describe experiences included: hopeful, moved, excited, inspired, connected, empowered, optimistic, transformative, motivated, challenged, refreshed, and appreciative, among others.

Looking to the Future

“This work has huge implications for connection, healing, improved health outcomes and combating loneliness in Kansas and beyond, potentially reducing the reliance on foster homes and congregate care,” said Josh Boynton, a member of the Medicaid Growth team focused on complex populations strategy. 

David Livingston, CEO of Aetna Better Health of Kansas, added, “This week’s Family Finding training represented preliminary efforts to empower local communities to take action and create meaningful changes in the lives of young individuals. As we look ahead to 2020 planning efforts, our goal is to continue investing both significant time and resources to improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families throughout Kansas.”

About Aetna Better Health of Kansas

Aetna Better Health of Kansas believes that members should have the opportunity to be leaders in their care. Aetna Better Health uses a model of care management that empowers members to decide what their health goals are, and then the plan works with them, their families, providers and caregivers to help them achieve their goals. The payoff to our members comes in the form of increased quality of care and quality of life. Aetna Better Health services individuals who qualify for KanCare in the State of Kansas.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Using Data to Drive Value to Our Members

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From opioid misuse, gene therapy and chronic care management to end-of-life issues and hospital acquired infections, our Clinical Insights and Analytics (CIA) team is using member data and medical knowledge to make an impact on the lives of the people we serve and set them on a path to better health.

CVS Health’s Clinical Insights and Analytics (CIA) team is using member data and medical knowledge to make an impact on the lives of the people we serve and set them on a path to better health.
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“We are a clinical think tank,” says CIA team member Rebecca Smith, a senior program manager. “We have the clinicians, the project management, the operational expertise and the data analysis all in one place, all working cohesively.

“We're all working towards the same goal, which is to drive better value of care for our members.”

Watch the video above to learn more.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Keeping Community at the Center of Care at MinuteClinic

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With approximately 1,100 locations nationwide, MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants work every day to provide patients with convenient, personalized care that’s close to home.

One MinuteClinic provider who takes that work to heart is Aimee Kleppin, a family nurse practitioner who works out of a CVS Pharmacy in Queen Creek, Arizona.

Highly motivated and community-minded in her work, Kleppin was awarded a 2019 CVS Health Paragon Award, which recognizes the best-of-the-best among CVS Health colleagues who deliver direct care to patients and customers. Now in its 29th year, the Paragon Awards honor colleagues who embody the core values of CVS Health.

Born in Puerto Rico to parents who are both pharmacists, Kleppin knew from the time that she was in high school that she wanted to be a nurse practitioner. In her years of working for MinuteClinic, Kleppin has developed a following of patients who trust her clinical knowledge and appreciate her caring approach.

Watch above to learn about Kleppin’s dedication to her local community, including a program on hygiene that she developed the local schools, and why she’s continuously inspired to help others through her work.

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Taking Control of Diabetes with HealthHub

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HealthHUB, our first-of-its-kind concept store now open in select locations nationwide, connects patients with health care services, advice and personalized care right at their neighborhood CVS Pharmacy. 

This ease of accessibility was what prompted Luis to stop by his local HealthHUB to see someone about abdominal pain he was experiencing.

What he and the nurse practitioner discovered was that the issues he was having went beyond simple pain: He was diabetic, but wasn’t currently being treated for the condition. Within his 40-minute visit, the HealthHUB team set Luis up to meet with both an eye doctor and a dietician and he left with a treatment and management plan in place.

Watch the video to learn more about how Luis’s trip to his local HealthHUB got him back on track.

To learn more about our enterprise-wide approach to diabetes management and care, visit our Managing Diabetes with CVS Health page.

To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Supporting the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

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This World AIDS Day, CVS Health is recognizing the progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help further reduce the spread of the HIV virus.

Reducing transmission of HIV

Currently, there are an estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV, and approximately 38,000 people diagnosed annually. Scientific advances over the past few decades have changed the paradigm for the prevention and treatment of the disease. For example, an HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence and can now be effectively managed through maintenance medications. In addition, more recent medical breakthroughs have brought to market pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications that can prevent at-risk populations, including those who could contract the virus through sexual contact or drug use, from ever getting HIV.

HHS estimates that more than one million people in the U.S. could benefit from taking PrEP medication, however only 100,000 actually have a prescription. That is why CVS Health is teaming up with HHS to help make PrEP medication more accessible and affordable through a new HHS program called Ready, Set, PrEP, which is a key component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic In America initiative, which aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. by 90 percent over the next 10 years.

How it works

The HHS Ready, Set, PrEP program provides at-risk and HIV-negative individuals who do not have prescription drug coverage access to PrEP medication at no cost.  In addition, the program is providing education and awareness materials to help individuals gain more information about PrEP and learn how to access the Ready, Set, PrEP program. Once approved, and with a valid PrEP prescription from a health care provider, individuals can fill the medication at a participating pharmacy, including CVS Pharmacy and CVS Pharmacy Specialty Services locations or by mail. CVS Health has donated prescription dispensing services to HHS as part of Ready, Set, PrEP program. Those interested can learn more about Ready, Set, PrEP and apply online at GetYourPrep.com or calling toll-free 855-447-8410.

CVS Health has donated prescription dispensing services to HHS as part of Ready, Set, PrEP program. Those interested can learn more about Ready, Set, PrEP and apply online at GetYourPrep.com.
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Our enterprise commitment

This is one more way that CVS Health is working to prevent the spread of HIV and help those living with HIV better manage the virus and prevent disease progression.

This includes an ongoing partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help Act Against AIDS, which brings mobile HIV screening and testing services to CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the country.

In addition, through the CVS Specialty HIV Care Management program, patients can receive whole-patient management and support from nurses specially trained in HIV care.Nurse support is available to CVS Caremark members whose plans including Accordant Care Management (including CareTeam Choice or CareTeam Advanced) Comprehensive, continuous care can help promote medication adherence, improve outcomes, and reduce overall health costs. Further, at several CVS Pharmacy Specialty Services locations in New York City, HIV patients can receive proactive outreach to improve adherence to and management of HIV medications. This includes face-to-face counseling and/or telephonic outreach for all new-to-therapy patients; refill reminders; and additional co-morbidity and financial support and assistance, as appropriate.

Across CVS Health, we help support the HIV/AIDS community every day. Through high-touch support, screening and care management services, we help those who are at at-risk for or living with HIV/AIDS on their path to better health.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Connecting Rural Pediatric Patients to Mental Health Resources

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Representatives from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia present a grant check to West Virginia University School of Medicine.
Aetna Better Health of West Virginia presents a $50,000 grant to the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Our goal of building healthier communities by making health care local can be especially challenging when it comes to pediatric mental health access in rural communities.

But thanks to a $50,000 grant from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia to the West Virginia University School of Medicine, a new program will give the state’s pediatric health providers easier access to child and adolescent mental health resources.

The Pediatric Mental Health Telephone Access Line program, overseen by the school’s Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, will support frontline pediatricians, family medicine practitioners, and school health care providers by connecting children and adolescent psychiatrists by phone for informal consultation, advice and guidance.

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia to the West Virginia University School of Medicine, a new program will give the state’s pediatric health providers easier access to child and adolescent mental health resources.
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“This generous gift from Aetna will be a gift to the children and the future of our state,” said Dr. Lauren W.M. Swager, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at WVU, who will serve as the clinical director of the Pediatric Mental Health telephone access line. “This program can help us build health and mental health access back into our most rural communities so our state’s children can continue to receive treatment in their pediatrician’s office.”

Todd White, CEO of Aetna Better Health of West Virginia, stated during the check presentation, “Being a trauma informed care organization, our Medicaid managed care health plan is honored to work with our partners at WVU to address the mental health needs of our state’s children.”

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends at least 47 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists per 100,000 children and adolescents. Despite these guidelines, West Virginia claims only 9 practicing psychiatrists per 100,000 children and adolescents, with only 32 total practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists in the state.

For more information about CVS Health's efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

Representatives from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia present a grant check to West Virginia University School of Medicine.
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Re-Training Providers to Achieve Proper Blood Pressure Measurement

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Getting your blood pressure checked is a familiar experience at the doctor’s office, but recent research suggests that it may not always be accurate.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly half of all U.S. adults have high blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and preventable death.  Accurate measurement of a patient’s blood pressure is vital to providing accurate diagnoses and quality care.https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2019-11/market-research-survey-bp-measurement.pdf

Given the importance of accurate blood pressure readings, clinical guidelines recommend that health care providers be periodically re-trained on proper BP measurement; however, recent market research conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the AHA indicated this may not always be the case.

Based on this research, the AMA and AHA partnered with MinuteClinic, along with a leading health care organization and leading academic medical centers, to test a new e-learning module. The module, called Achieving Accuracy: BP Measurement, was designed to provide all front-line health care providers with access to consistent training on proper BP measurement and is now available for health care professionals through the AHA.

In the survey of more than two thousand health care providers, half of the physicians and physician assistants (PAs) who responded, and a third of nurse respondents, said they had not received BP measurement re-training since their initial training in school. However, there seems to be broad support among the survey respondents for BP refresher training, with three-quarters or more of the nurses, PAs, primary care providers and pharmacists surveyed noting that it should be required.

Some common BP measurement errors that can result in pushing a patient’s diagnosis from normal to elevated, include:

  • Taking a reading while a patient is sitting with their legs crossed, which can raise systolic pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hghttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17496470

  • Using the wrong cuff size, which can raise systolic pressure by approximately 10 mm Hghttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911816

“Being able to test this new BP measurement re-training module with our providers on the front lines reinforces our long-standing commitment to advancing heart health and providing high quality care for our patients,” said David Fairchild, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, MinuteClinic. “Our providers appreciated the opportunity to be involved in this effort and we look forward to integrating this training into our clinical standards moving forward.”

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Innovating Health Care

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How a Trusted Partnership Helped One Type 2 Patient Live Healthier

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When Regina Wu first met Kenneth, she asked him about his diet and exercise — as CVS Health pharmacists routinely do with their patients. Kenneth, a 77-year-old man with diabetes and a sweet tooth who once weighed 286 pounds, said he often drank a liter of soda per day.

Regina immediately sensed a red flag.

“I know that soda is something people can become addicted to in a way,” she says. “It’s caffeinated, high in sugar, and people start to crave a soda fix. And soda is a big problem for blood sugar control.”

Research shows drinking sugary beverages like soda every day could increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. For those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, soda consumption can hamper their efforts to keep their blood sugar at an acceptable level.

That certainly was the case with Kenneth. He took his medications diligently, but his A1C reading was 10.1 percent. A normal A1C is less than 5.7 percent, and the goal for type 2 diabetes patients is to keep their A1C levels below 7 percent. Kenneth was struggling enough with his blood sugar that his doctor increased his insulin dosages.

Losing weight and changing eating habits can be challenging if the problem seems large and insurmountable. Regina saw an opportunity to focus on a small, manageable change: reduce Kenneth’s soda intake.

It’s these kinds of interactions that CVS Health had in mind when we created our Medication Therapy Management program. The program is designed to allow CVS pharmacists to engage one-on-one with patients, identifying any barriers in their treatment, recommending lifestyle changes, and creating an ongoing dialogue to ensure that patients are taking their medication and getting the follow-up care they need.

Regina and her colleagues frequently work with type 2 diabetes patients: Approximately 1 in 10 Americans — or about 30 million people — have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the disease typically surfaces in people over age 45, young adults, teens and children are increasingly being diagnosed.

Regina spoke every few months with Kenneth, urging him to drink even just one less can of soda. Then, in 2018, Kenneth was hospitalized with an infection, and he was hospitalized a second time about a year later. After Kenneth came home from the hospital, he cut back to two Diet Cokes a day. By May 2019, his A1C reading was 8.6 percent, much closer to his target level, and he now weighs 240 pounds. He’s on a 50-gram-carbohydrates per day diet, walks more often, his blood pressure levels have improved and his medication dosages have been reduced. He has kicked the soda habit completely, and has become an advocate among his family members to minimize soda drinking.

“I see the pharmacist as part of the care engagement team,” Regina says. “It really takes a village and the pharmacist is someone patients can talk to in between doctor visits or after hospital discharge. They get to know me, I get to know them, and it becomes a friendship, and with that trust, we talk about how to make small changes that can add up.”

To learn more about our enterprise-wide approach to diabetes management and care, visit our Managing Diabetes with CVS Health page.

To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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