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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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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Celebrating Our 10-Year Partnership with Diverse Supplier WEI

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Our partnerships with small and diverse businesses are mutually beneficial: They help us ensure that our products and services evolve to meet the needs of our customers, while also providing economic opportunity to our suppliers.

In fact, in 2018, our Supplier Diversity Program contributed $5.5 billion to the U.S. economy and sustained 31,000 jobs. This success would not be possible without the partnerships we have with our suppliers like New Hampshire-based WEI.

Since partnering with CVS Health 10 years ago to provide IT consulting services and solutions, WEI has been able to increase its workforce by 80 percent, growth that Co-Founder and Vice President Leslie Rosas says has a “trickle-down effect” in allowing WEI to use more diverse suppliers in their own supply chain and to develop a more diverse workforce of their own.

On the CVS Health side, WEI has become an expansion of the IT team, filling a critical company need and ready to help whenever we need them.

Watch the video to learn more about how our two companies have worked together and contributed to each other’s growth over the past 10 years.

Visit our Supplier Diversity page to learn more about our program.

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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Managing Diabetes

Our integrated, coordinated care approach

CVS Health is harnessing the power of its unmatched community connections and industry-leading data analytics to help people with diabetes better manage their day-to-day symptoms and lead healthier lives.

Our integrated approach is rooted in early detection and personalized, holistic care management, and offers our patients, customers and members an array of products and services that work seamlessly together, while improving access to care that is more local, more affordable and easier to navigate.

In Our Stores

With locations in 10,000 communities nationwide, our CVS Pharmacy stores are uniquely positioned to help patients manage their chronic conditions such as diabetes in between doctor’s visits. Our pharmacists provide one-on-one trusted counsel to patients daily, reviewing prescriptions to ensure patients are getting the most out of their medicines, while the providers in our more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations offer screenings to monitor a patient’s vital signs and glucose levels.

We carry a wide variety of diabetes care products in our CVS Pharmacy locations to make it easier for patients to manage their condition.

MinuteClinic providers can identify conditions — including diabetes and hypertension — that a patient may not know about and develop an initial treatment plan with appropriate prescriptions and ongoing monitoring and counseling.

And with our new HealthHub® concept, a new, first-of-its-kind community-based store that offers a broader range of health services, new product categories, digital and on-demand health tools and trusted advice along with expanded capabilities in chronic disease care such as diabetes.

In addition, under our Reduced Rx prescription savings program, patients with diabetes can receive their insulin at a reduced cost at any of the more than 67,000 pharmacies in the CVS Caremark retail network, including our CVS Pharmacy locations.

CVS Pharmacy is partnering with the American Diabetes Association on their November #CountMeIn campaign to highlight the numbers that matter most when it comes to those living with, at risk for and supporting those with diabetes. More information can be found at diabetes.org/CountMeInADA.

For Our Members

We launched our Transform Diabetes Care program in 2017 to help simplify condition management and improve outcomes for members of our CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit manager.

The results so far have been significant: More than 50 percent of enrolled members with uncontrolled diabetes have moved to a controlled status by utilizing the solutions offered by the program, including personalized coaching, monitoring at MinuteClinic and CVS Pharmacy, testing supplies and a pharmacist-led clinical team that reviews blood glucose readings.

Learn more about our Transform Diabetes Care program.

Since launching, the program has expanded to identify members at risk for developing diabetes and related conditions.

Additionally, our Pharmacy Advisor program helps our members with chronic conditions like diabetes do a better job of taking their prescription medications through targeted counseling from pharmacists and monitored pharmacy claims to keep members on track with refills.

In the Community

CVS Health provides philanthropic support across the country to fund prevention efforts as well as education for those at risk for or living with diabetes. 

Through our partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC), the CVS Health Foundation has provided support to 57 clinics across the country to support expanded services to treat those with diabetes and hypertension.

We also bring free health and wellness screenings directly to local communities through our Project Health events. At these events, participants receive on-the-spot assessments of weight, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels – tests that can help detect risk for chronic conditions such diabetes.

CVS Health also supports colleagues who volunteer on behalf of organizations associated with diabetes and also provides sponsorships for events. In 2019, CVS Health has provided over $120,000 to support diabetes organizations.

Find out more about the results of our Morning Consult survey on diabetes care.

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By the Numbers: Improving Diabetes Care

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A man using diabetic testing equipment.

Diabetes is a costly and complex disease that burdens patients and the broader health care system. Today, more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes and estimates show that medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people who don’t have diabetes.https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html

In honor of American Diabetes Month, CVS Health recently partnered with Morning Consult to conduct a survey to better understand how people living with diabetes and the providers who deliver diabetes care are grappling with the disease. We also examined what tools and solutions would be most impactful in improving diabetes care.

Among both people living with diabetes and providers, there is a desire to expand access to care locally, better manage and predict out-of-pocket costs and provide additional lifestyle support.

Expanding Access to Diabetes Care

Managing diabetes can be extremely time-consuming and complicated. Oftentimes, patients must visit different sites of care, facilitate multiple annual exams and communicate with various providers across their care team. The survey revealed that both people living with diabetes and providers believe the health care system could do more to expand access to diabetes care and services. For example:

  • A majority (64 percent) of people living with diabetes are not aware of extended hours for diabetes support, while 61 percent of providers do not offer extended hours.

  • The vast majority of people living with diabetes (89 percent) and providers (98 percent) believe that being able to receive testing and exams for diabetes in a single location would be beneficial.

  • Just 18 percent of diabetes patients see their primary care provider once or more a month, while 37 percent report that they see their primary care provider every two to three months and 35 percent report that they see their provider every four to six months.

This is where CVS Health is making a difference. Today, 71 percent of Americans live within five miles of a CVS retail location. And people come to their pharmacy frequently: Whereas a patient with diabetes might only see his or her physician four to five times a year, they will likely see their pharmacist as many as 18–24 times in the same year.

Through these touchpoints to care, we are expanding access to diabetes care locally. For example, our HealthHUB model provides a new, first-of-its-kind community-based store that offer a broader range of health services, new product categories, digital and on-demand health tools and trusted advice. In these locations, people living with diabetes are able to receive the coordinated care and services they need all within our own four walls.

Addressing Diabetes Costs

Cost is top of mind for both people living with diabetes and providers — and there is uncertainty on how to predict the out-of-pocket costs associated with diabetes management. When asked about managing diabetes, nearly half (47 percent) of providers do not feel they have the resources they need to predict out-of-pocket costs for their patients’ diabetes medications. On the other hand, nearly one-third of patients (32 percent) do not feel they have the resources they need to predict their own out-of-pocket costs.

CVS Health is working to expand visibility into drug cost information across multiple points of care. Through our real-time benefits program, we’re providing tools to doctors so they can see what a medicine is going to cost, and recommend lower-cost, clinically appropriate options to the patient. We’ve also pioneered digital tools, including the Rx Savings Finder, which helps our retail pharmacists find patients savings when they do reach the pharmacy counter.

Improving Disease and Lifestyle Management

People living with diabetes and providers would benefit from enhanced lifestyle support to better manage the disease, including nutritional counseling and access to public transportation. For example:

  • People living with diabetes (58 percent) and providers (80 percent) both report they are likely to utilize nutritional counseling services to help manage their diabetes.

  • Access to public transportation is seen as a barrier among both patients and providers. For example, people living with diabetes (27 percent) and providers (29 percent) rank access to public transportation as poor in their community.

CVS Health offers programs to provide people living with diabetes with personalized support when and where they need it — whether it be in the community, in the home or in the palm of their hand.

For example, our Transform Diabetes Care includes personalized pharmacist counseling and the support of a diabetes coach to help ensure members stay adherent to their care plans. Additionally, through our Pharmacy Advisor program, our members can get one-on-one counseling from pharmacists either in-person at a CVS pharmacy location, or through our URAC-accredited call center.

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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Everyday Steps Are Critical for Managing Diabetes

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A woman receiving a blood pressure check.

Donna Castillo was running her usual errands when she stopped by her neighborhood CVS Pharmacy in Anaheim, California, to pick up her new type 2 diabetes medication. She wound up walking unexpectedly into a free health screening event – and didn’t hesitate to take advantage.

The 57-year old former hairdresser, who also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis in her hands and who lives on disability, understands the importance of taking small, everyday steps to manage her health.

“People tend to ignore things,” she says, “but I've learned how the little things matter.” In addition to taking medication, Castillo says living with type 2 diabetes has taught her to carefully monitor her diet. She makes sure to eat breakfast every morning and that her breakfasts always include protein. “Birthday parties are the hardest with all that cake,” she says. “I just take a little piece. I have to be really careful about my sugar.”

The Project Health screening event taking place that day was one of 93 community health fairs across the greater Los Angeles region from September through December, with nearly 600 total events in CVS Pharmacy locations across the country. The free screenings monitor such vitals as blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index. CVS Health practitioners also offer advice on how to quit smoking, and give referrals to nearby primary care doctors and other resources.

Since it began in 2006, Project Health has delivered more than $127 million in free health care services to nearly 1.7 million people in multicultural communities with a large number of uninsured or underinsured Americans.

These screenings are particularly critical for people with chronic conditions, like diabetes, which can trigger other health problems such as heart disease and stroke if not monitored and maintained.

Castillo is very familiar with the risks. She was diagnosed around age 50, and the condition runs on both sides of her family, although she is relieved her three grown sons have all tested negative. She stopped by CVS that day to pick up a new medication her doctor had recently prescribed, canagliflozin, which she now takes in addition to daily doses of Metformin.

Type 2 diabetes affects one in 10 Americans, or about 30 million people, 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.

Nurse Practitioner Elsie Parra, who was onsite at the Anaheim CVS to provide screening tests, has been with Project Health for the past five years, and says too often, patients don’t know they have symptoms that could be red flags for serious health conditions.

“Diabetes, blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all silent killers,” says Parra. “These community screenings are a convenient way for patients to get a fast check-up without an appointment or feels the nervousness some might have when going to a doctor’s office.”

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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POLITICO Q&A with Dr. Lotvin: A New Front Door to Care

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Dr. Alan Lotvin, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer for CVS Health, recently sat down with POLITICO to highlight how our recently integrated company is transforming the future of consumer health services and addressing needs in chronic disease care.

The conversation centered on the importance of advancing our health care system to meet consumers where they are and when it is convenient for them. According to Dr. Lotvin, “A lot goes into building a consumer-centric health care model. The first part of it is a recognition that we have to organize a health care system around and for the benefit and convenience of consumers.”

Here are four takeaways from his discussion with POLITICO:

  • Managing conditions requires expanded touchpoints care. It can be difficult to improve patient engagement with just three or four doctor visits per year — underscoring the importance of interacting with patients on a more frequent basis. According to Dr. Lotvin, “What we're trying to do is bring more personalized services into people's homes and communities at a point in time when it's convenient for them to interact with us, but also in a way that is on their terms. When they call us to fill a prescription or walk into one of our stores, they're primed to think about their health, and they tend to be very receptive to messages that are promoting health.”

  • Improving patient health is critical to help manage growing costs. According to Dr. Lotvin, the best way to lower total health care costs is to improve overall health. If we can help patients prevent conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, we are able to avoid the expenses that are incurred from managing these conditions over an extended period of time. Dr. Lotvin noted that we must first provide better access to more coordinated care and then take steps to ensure that patients are receiving their care in the most efficient setting.

  • Strengthening care coordination begins in the community. Dr. Lotvin shared the example of a diabetes patient to highlight the importance of providing coordinated, high-quality health care services all under one roof. Anyone living with diabetes should have several annual exams and evaluations. These patients are typically required to visit several sites and providers, which can lead to fragmentation. Through our new HealthHUB model, we’re doing more to ensure that these exams and evaluations can all be done within our own four walls and we can help patients identify the next best action.

  • Analytics are key to improving health care outcomes. Through analytics, we are able to turn insights into meaningful health care actions. According to Dr. Lotvin, the acquisition of Aetna provides the company with the opportunity to analyze health care challenges in a more holistic manner and then identify how we can address them at the community level.

The full Q&A can be viewed here.

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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Larry Merlo: Improving and Simplifying Care for Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries

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Today, more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and research consistently shows that seniors value the supplemental benefits available through these plans.https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/a-dozen-facts-about-medicare-advantage

As seniors continue to seek more personalized care, Larry Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer for CVS Health, joined the 2019 MA Summit to highlight how CVS Health is uniquely positioned to address the challenges of health care access, quality and costs for older Americans.

Merlo was interviewed by Allyson Schwartz, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Better Medicare Alliance, who inquired about how the combination of CVS Health and Aetna is bringing care closer to the home, making the health care system easier to navigate and improving health outcomes.

Below are three key takeaways from their discussion. 
    

  • Meeting beneficiaries where they are: As an example of how the combined company is expanding access to care locally, Merlo shared insights on the early success of our HealthHUB pilot program in Houston — a new, community-based health destination that offers a broader range of health products and services.

    According to Merlo, what beneficiaries will experience at a HealthHUB is unique. For example, their visit will often start with a conversation with a care concierge who plays a critical role in engaging them as they arrive, informing them about in-store services and helping them find the right solutions for their individual needs.

  • Making benefits easier to use: To ensure health care works better for beneficiaries, Merlo highlighted the importance of eliminating the system’s complexities. Consider the beneficiary who just had knee-replacement surgery. Typically, the patient has the procedure and has limited communication with the provider afterwards. He or she enters an uncoordinated post-op environment and is left mostly alone to coordinate transportation after the operation, prescription pickup and arranging delivery of additional medical devices for the home.

    According to Merlo, this is where the combination of CVS Health and Aetna makes a real difference. For example, we’ll make sure his or her surgeon is in-network, conduct a home assessment to ensure safety post-operation and help coordinate prescriptions.

  • Expanding touchpoints to care: Helping beneficiaries stay adherent to their care plans requires enhanced communication and consultations. Given our footprint in 10,000 communities nationwide, Merlo highlighted how CVS Health is able to serve as a frequent and convenient resource to beneficiaries. For example, a patient might see her physician four to five times a year, but is likely to see a pharmacist as many as 18-24 times in the same year. Merlo noted that older adults tend to have more than one chronic condition and may take multiple medications. Therefore, our pharmacists can help seniors better manage their daily medication regimens.

    According to Merlo, helping beneficiaries take their medicines on-time and as directed is critical to reducing unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations — as the cost of non-adherence totals $300 billion annually.

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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Aetna’s New Cancer Support Center Connects Members to Personalized Information

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“Take a deep breath.”

That’s how the section of Aetna’s digital oncology hub regarding “navigating treatment” begins – no medical terms or insurance jargon, just a simple reminder.

Dealing with cancer can be an overwhelming experience for patients, families and caregivers. The lack of centralized information about the disease and effective treatments can pose a real challenge both for patients, who must cope with their own personal cancer diagnosis and journey, and their families.

While there is information available online for those dealing with cancer, it can be confusing, contradictory or even downright dangerous when patients rely solely on “Dr. Google” for information.

Aetna is stepping into that information gap by providing members with a comprehensive, user-friendly resource for cancer treatment education and support. A digital oncology hub called the Cancer Support Center is now part of Aetna’s library of online-based member resources.

“Cancer diagnosis and treatment is often the most difficult and physically, mentally and financially stressful time in a person’s life,” said Dr. Roger Brito, senior medical director on the Aetna oncology solutions team. “We made it our mission to try to make that journey a little easier.”

The project was developed as an enterprise-wide initiative, involving medical and content experts from across Aetna who worked together to create easy-to-understand materials that are location-specific and catered to a member’s diagnosis. The information on the hub is structured in a way that reflects a holistic view of the cancer patient journey – from screening and prevention, to diagnosis, to treatment, recovery and beyond.

One of the key benefits of making this kind of information available online is that it can be easily updated to reflect new treatments, standards and best practices. As Dr. Brito points out, many medications used today weren’t even available just a few years ago, so the oncology hub can be continually revised to reflect the latest medical guidance.

“It’s just a constantly changing and evolving state,” he said. “The treatments in two to three years will likely be very different from those we use today.”

The Aetna team identified breast cancer as the type of cancer that affected the most members across all ages and backgrounds (with more than 120,000 claims per year) and chose to launch the hub around this topic. However, the Cancer Support Center will continue to evolve and grow as more information is added for different cancers, including ovarian and prostate cancers.

The support center has been an early success in terms of member and caregiver engagement, according to Dr. Brito, with many visitors coming back to the site repeatedly.

“The goal is to continue to expand the hub so that we can provide the right mix of resources and education,” said Dr. Brito. “We will continue to look for opportunities to support our members and their caregivers to help ease the challenges of this difficult journey.”

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Aetna Is Helping Lead the Way on the Evolution of Precision Medicine

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There are many reasons people get sick — from the quality of their health care to environmental factors and behavioral patterns like diet or smoking. Genetic factors — including those aspects of our individual physical makeup that can offer clues to the kinds of diseases for which we are susceptible —also impact our health.

And with the number of genetic tests increasing to more than 50,000 in the last five years, “precision medicine” or “personalized medicine” can play a part in helping to screen for, diagnose, prevent, treat and even cure disease. By tapping into a deeper understanding of a person’s genetics, precision medicine has the potential to unlock opportunities for prevention as well as more focused and effective treatments.

“As our understanding of genomics continues to grow, we are seeing the development of a new generation of genetic testing and targeted treatments,” said Joanne Armstrong, M.D., M.P.H., senior medical director at Aetna. “Although we have a long way to go to replace the current ‘one size fits all’ medical model with individualized genetics diagnostics and hyper-specific treatments, the evolution of this field is exciting.”

Aetna, a CVS Health company, has helped lead the way in that evolution, developing the first comprehensive program for breast and ovarian cancer testing using the BRCA gene test. Aetna also was the first health plan to create and implement a genetic information privacy policy and the first to develop telephone genetic counseling services.

“Aetna has been at the forefront of personalized medicine for more than two decades,” said Heather Shappell, precision medicine program manager, Aetna. “We’ve driven many firsts in this field. High standards and a focus on member safety and health are the foundation of what we do.”

Armstrong noted that as genetic testing and precision medicine become more common, the health care industry must take steps to ensure the quality of results so that patients can get the care they need.

Toward that end, Aetna became the first health plan to require quality credentialing of participating genetic testing labs. The company continues to lead on this front, requiring genetics laboratories with which they contract to enter test results into a public domain database called ClinVar. This database compiles information about human genomic variations in order to advance our scientific understanding of the relationship of genes to overall health.

This type of validation is particularly important in precision medicine. For example, while a lab may determine that a patient has a specific gene variation, the mere presence of that variation isn’t necessarily linked to the presence of a particular disease. Sharing the anonymous patient data among clinicians from around the world allows researchers to discover patterns and possible connections between genomic variations and specific diseases.

“Genetics is an evolving field where many unanswered, critical questions still exist,” Armstrong noted. “For example, as the science of personalized medicine matures, new challenges are emerging. New gene therapies recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration have the potential to cure genetic-based diseases, many of which are lethal. The staggering costs, however, strain the ability of our health care system to provide access to these therapies.”

Precision medicine is poised to expand beyond single disease and gene tests like BRCA and into processes that map out a person’s entire genome, providing clues to help predict future disease. As this type of personalized medicine becomes a more prevalent part of how patients are diagnosed and treated, Aetna is utilizing its long history of leadership in the field to help ensure that members receive the right treatments in the right place at the right time.

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