CVS announces new initiatives targeting the social determinants of health 

CVS is looking to expand its work on the social determinants of health through its new Destination: Health platform. 

CVS Health and the Aetna Foundation unveiled the new set of initiatives Wednesday, which includes new partnerships, tools and investments aimed at addressing social factors impacting health.  

For example, Aetna will join forces with Unite Us, a social care coordination platform, to boost access to social supports for select dual-eligible members. The two companies are also exploring other ways to integrate their platforms, including potentially in CVS Health retail clinics. 

“We really wanted to bring this together under one combined platform that represents our commitment to the issue of social determinants of health,” Garth Graham, M.D., vice president of community health and impact at CVS and president of the Aetna Foundation, told FierceHealthcare. 

RELATED: CVS plans to turn 1,500 stores into HealthHUBs 

The joint project will be available for Aetna Medicaid members in Kentucky and for dual-eligible members in Tampa, Florida, and southeastern Louisiana in the second half of this year, CVS announced. 

The initiative also includes the launch of a new tool aimed to help employers with Aetna plans track the impacts of the social determinants on their healthcare costs. The insurer is set to release the tool before the end of the month and add additional functionality early next year. 

Using the tool, employers will gain insights on the health of their workforce, but it will also provide valuable feedback to CVS to determine what interventions may be most useful to specific populations, according to the announcement.

“This is really looking at ways in which we can address the needs of, particularly, low-wage workers,” Graham said. 

RELATED: CVS Health pledges $100M toward tackling social determinants of health on heels of Aetna deal 

Another element of the new platform is additional funding for affordable housing, CVS announced. The company plans to invest $50 million by the end of the year. 

Since the beginning of 2019, CVS and Aetna have put $40.5 million toward the construction or renovation of more than 1,600 housing units across 19 states. This includes 100 units that are dedicated solely to people with mental health needs, who are homeless or have long-term health conditions such as HIV/AIDS or substance abuse. 

Aetna is also investing in community outreach programs to assist with activities of daily living such as healthy eating, financial literacy and health information navigation. 

Graham said Aetna has been making housing and community investments dating back to the 1990s, to the tune of more than $1 billion. The combination with CVS now allows the insurer to be even more present in local communities to address these needs, he said. 

“It’s really building on that track record of investment around housing,” Graham said.