Aetna and AbilTo Team up to Combat Depression in Cardiac Patients

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Aetna (NYSE: AET) and AbilTo today announced a new program to help Aetna members who have had heart attacks, bypass surgery, or other cardiac events combat depression and improve recovery.

“Many individuals who experience a significant cardiac event also experience depression,” said Michael Golinkoff, Ph.D., Aetna’s head of clinical specialty operations. “According to published studies, between 15 and 20 percent of people who have had bypass surgery experience depression. The same figures apply to patients suffering a heart attack. Not only can the depression itself be a problem for patients, but it can interfere with their overall recovery and prevent them from adopting recommended behavioral changes, including healthier diet and more exercise. We need a better approach to treating – more importantly preventing – depression following cardiac events.”

Starting this month, selected Aetna members in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York will be given the opportunity to join an eight-week program designed to address the unique emotional and behavioral requirements of individuals learning to live with heart disease. The program enables members to use web-based videoconferencing to meet face-to-face with a dedicated team. A transition specialist helps the member adjust to the emotional challenges that follow a cardiac event while a coach helps the individual implement a healthy new life regimen.

AbilTo developed the program – based on well-validated, empirically substantiated approaches – and will provide the transition specialists and behavioral coaches. “It’s called ‘Cardiac Health Forum.’ The evidence-based approach has already been used to help many individuals recover more quickly and successfully from their cardiac events,” said Michael Laskoff, CEO of AbilTo.

Aetna and AbilTo will analyze the results from the program and compare member outcomes with those of similar Aetna members not enrolled in Cardiac Health Forum. The program’s impact on duration and severity of depression experienced, adherence to physician’s orders, medical outcomes, and health care costs will be examined.

“This approach has great potential to improve overall health and lower costs. If that happens, this type of program may be valuable for other health care areas beyond cardiac events,” said Golinkoff.

“The stress of dealing with a cardiac event is sizeable in and of itself,” said Golinkoff. “The depression that can follow could make full recovery more difficult. If we can help reduce or shorten that depression, we’ll be making a very notable contribution to the well-being of these cardiac patients. The prospects of that are very exciting.”

“We’re proud to be working with Aetna as it strives to bring valuable new services to its members,” said AbilTo’s Laskoff. “Not only is Aetna one of the country’s leading health care companies, it is also one of the most innovative when it comes to embracing new, technology-enabled service models.”

About AbilTo LLC

AbilTo offers single price, fixed duration programs to corporations, national law practices and health care organizations that enable their employees and members to proactively manage addressable life transition issues, resulting in measurable, positive health outcomes and reduced health spending. The company’s programs are based on well-accepted protocols and delivered ‘face-to-face’ to participants using web-based videoconference. Current offerings include Momentum and Health Forum. For more information, please visit or contact Lilibeth Gecale at [email protected] or 646.558.3246.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.5 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see


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KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  California  Connecticut  New Jersey  New York

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Surgery  Health  Cardiology  Hospitals  General Health  Managed Care