Health insurer Aetna has introduced a new pilot program for its Medicaid members in Delaware, which aims to improve health outcomes of Hispanic and African American patients who struggle with asthma.

The pilot is a year-long initiative that adds new health care interventions to better control asthma and help reduce the need for emergency room visits.

Nearly 1,000 child, teen and adult members of Delaware Physicians Care, Aetna’s Medicaid plan in the state of Delaware, are expected to participate in the pilot program.

In Aetna’s Delaware pilot, a combination of interventions will be used with the Medicaid members. Participants will receive culturally appropriate educational materials and disease management programs.

In addition, patients will be offered with an opportunity to have their homes receive an environmental assessment.

Aetna national medical director, racial and ethnic equality initiative Wayne Rawlins said that the Asthma has the highest prevalence in African Americans. They are three times more likely to die from asthma than non-Hispanic whites.

Asthma is a potentially life-threatening respiratory condition that affects more than 22 million people in the US.

The educational materials and disease management programs are customized by age group, into three groups as children, teens and adults.

This multifaceted approach gives members practical information about asthma and explains ways to best manage their chronic condition. The pilot also aims to strengthen the link between members and their physicians.

Rawlins said the goal is to help patients of all ages improve control of their asthma. Keeping the condition ‘in check’ can greatly improve the lives those who have to live with asthma.

"We are testing ways to make sure patients have what they need in order to follow the guidelines their doctors recommend," Rawlins said.