Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Arizona Care Network today announced an accountable care collaboration and the introduction of Arizona Care Network Plans, an Aetna Whole HealthSM product. Aetna Whole Health is a collection of benefits plans that will give members access to highly coordinated care from the physicians and facilities in the Arizona Care Network. The health plans are designed for fully insured and self-insured employers in Maricopa County and will be available starting January 1, 2014.

Arizona Care Network, formed through collaboration between Dignity Health Arizona and Abrazo Health, is a physician-led, physician-governed clinically integrated network composed of more than 1,500 physicians, nine hospitals and numerous health care partners throughout the state. This network will provide a more personalized health care experience for Aetna Whole Health members in Phoenix.

"Working together, Aetna and Arizona Care Network will deliver high quality, comprehensive health care to our customers and their employees in Maricopa County," said Tom Dameron, Aetna’s president for Arizona operations. "This agreement with Arizona Care Network is just the latest example of Aetna’s commitment to working with medical providers across the country to provide better value and improved outcomes for our members."

Aetna Whole Health plans give employers better health care options for their employees. The plans feature a new model of health care delivery designed to offer:

A more coordinated, personalized experience for patients;
Lower co-pays for seeing providers that are part of the ACO network; and
Better health care outcomes.

Accountable care models drive focus on more coordinated care

An accountable care collaboration is a group of health care providers who assume responsibility for the quality and cost of care for a group of patients. Aetna members will receive an enhanced level of coordinated care in addition to the member benefits of their current Aetna plan.

New payment agreements reward improvements in quality and costs of care

The agreement features a new payment model to reward Arizona Care Network for meeting quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction measures, including:

The percentage of Aetna members who get recommended preventive care and screenings;
Better management of patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart failure;
Reductions in avoidable hospital readmission rates; and
Reductions in emergency room visits.

The Arizona Care Network model connects patients with care teams composed of primary care physicians, specialists and care coordinators – creating a personalized, higher quality, more integrated patient experience. "We engage patients in their own health care decisions by delivering timely information, resources and support specific to each patient’s needs and preferences," said Dr. William Ellert, chief medical officer of Arizona Care Network. "Through the use of evidence-based clinical practices and quality standards designed to drive the best possible outcomes for our patients, Arizona Care Network reduces duplication of effort and waste that contributes to escalating health care costs."

Mark Hillard, CEO of Arizona Care Network, credits the network’s effectiveness to this model of care. "The Arizona Care Network is physician-led and operates from standards and measures developed by individuals with deep clinical expertise and first-hand experience in patient care. Our physicians do what they do best — provide quality care to the individuals they serve — while being empowered with the resources and support needed to do so efficiently and effectively. Arizona Care Network physicians also have meaningful value-based incentives to encourage delivery of the most effective, highest quality, efficient care possible."

Aetna is working with health care organizations across the country to develop products and services that support value-driven, patient-centered care.