• The National Quality Forum (NQF) and the Aetna Foundation today announced a nine-month effort to advance the delivery of high-quality health care for all Americans by identifying quality and payment innovations that address social determinants of health and reduce health disparities.

    Despite the nation’s advancements and level of health care spending, resources directly linked to effective care are not equally accessible or integrated with health care delivery across communities, populations, and socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups. Addressing critical social determinants – conditions where people are born, learn, live, work, and play – is one of the first steps to eliminating disparities, improving health outcomes and promoting smarter spending. Research has shown that these conditions account for 40 percent of health outcomes, representing a significant opportunity to improve the health of the nation’s most vulnerable populations with better-integrated services.

    This initiative will identify innovative practices addressing social determinants pioneered by payers, healthcare systems and communities across the county, such as the organizations participating in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, which empowers small to mid-size U.S. cities and counties to create a positive health impact. NQF will bring together leaders from across the public and private sectors to develop repeatable, scalable recommendations to address disparities through the integration of quality and payment programs. The initiative will culminate in a summit later this year, with the goal of promoting a National Call to Action.

    Addressing health disparities is a mission priority for both organizations. The first day of NQF’s Annual Conference this March will feature in-depth panels on critical health equity topics. This initiative, funded through the Aetna Foundation, is part of a $100 million commitment by CVS Health to making community health and wellness central to the company’s charge for a better world. The new Building Healthier Communities initiative, which will be funded over five years through the CVS Health Foundation and Aetna Foundation, builds upon the outstanding tradition of community investment by both organizations.