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Aetna Works with National Kidney Foundation, Welltok to Help Members with Chronic Kidney Disaese

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Aetna Works with National Kidney Foundation, Welltok to Help Members with Chronic Kidney Disaese May 2014

New pilot program from Aetna Innovation Labs connects members and peer mentors in a secure online community

HARTFORD, Conn., May 6, 2014 - Kidney disease affects one in nine American adults, and many face it alone. Aetna (NYSE: AET), the National Kidney Foundation and Welltok recently launched a pilot program that aims to help Aetna members with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) connect with peers and learn to cope with their condition.

Aetna Innovation Labs will identify members with CKD for Welltok’s CaféWell Chronic Kidney Disease Community. These members will be invited to join the online community, where they can interact with “peer/patient” mentors who also have CKD and have been trained by the National Kidney Foundation. Participants will also learn more about managing their kidney disease, diet and nutrition, treatment options and living well.

“We believe this collaborative program will help enable members with CKD to be more proactive in managing their condition,” said Michael Palmer, vice president, chief innovation and digital officer at Aetna. “Early intervention and social support also may help provide better long-term clinical results and a higher quality of life.”

Aetna recently began outreach to eligible members in fully-insured plans. Members who choose to participate will have the opportunity to work with National Kidney Foundation mentors through the online community, as well as direct messaging.

“Our trained mentors who have CKD can provide valuable information on managing the condition, as well as emotional support,” said Bruce Skyer, National Kidney Foundation Chief Executive Officer. “These mentors face the same challenges as the Aetna members in this program and know what it is like to deal with CKD on a daily basis. That common connection will help strengthen communication and enhance the mentors’ success in helping improve the health of participating members.”

According to the National Kidney Foundation, recent research indicates that people with kidney disease often cope better when they interact with peers with whom they strongly identify. Studies on peer support also point to a decrease in symptoms of depression and social isolation and an improvement in self-esteem.

The pilot program will take place over the next 12 months. Aetna Innovation Labs will use results of the program to study the benefits of online peer support and social networking. The impact of the program will be measured by improvements in members’ understanding of their clinical condition, their engagement with the program, and clinical outcomes.

Welltok’s CaféWell Health Optimization Platform hosts the secure community where members can ask questions and provide confidential support to each other in a safe, supportive community.

“Our CaféWell platform brings together the educational content and programs that help consumers achieve their optimal health. In many cases, this may include social interactions with individuals who share similar conditions, goals or other demographics,” said Scott Rotermund, co-founder of Welltok. “For CKD and other chronic conditions, we have seen that a secure and supportive community has the power to help members gain a positive outlook and take control of their health.”

In addition to this pilot program, Aetna also supports members with CKD through the Chronic Kidney Disease Management Program. Aetna’s program offers personalized care through the use of nurses who are specially trained in kidney disease. The program enhances coordination of care among specialists, primary care providers and nurses. Together, they identify members at risk and improve clinical management in earlier stages of kidney disease to help slow the progression to kidney failure.

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