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Aetna Introduces Bridges to Excellence™ in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia

April 18, 2007

Physicians will be rewarded for meeting quality targets

For more information, contact:
 Walt Cherniak
[email protected]

McLean, VA - Aetna (NYSE: AET) announced today that it has incorporated Bridges to Excellence™ into its pay-for-performance programs for its contracted family practice and internal medicine physicians in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia.  The Bridges to Excellence program encourages high-quality health care by providing financial incentives to health care providers who demonstrate safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient-centered care.

“We believe the Bridges to Excellence program will help identify physicians who deliver consistently high standards of care to their patients,” said Dr. Bill Fried, Aetna’s medical director in the Mid-Atlantic Region.  “Aetna is excited to participate in this program, which supports our continuing work to encourage quality and safety improvements in health care.  We encourage all the eligible physicians in our network to join us in this effort.”

Bridges to Excellence, founded in 2002, is a multi-state, multi-employer coalition developed by employers, physicians, health care services researchers and other industry experts, whose mission is to reward quality across the health care system.   

Bridges to Excellence is based upon physician recognition programs designed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and its partners, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

“The state of health care in the U.S. is a topic in the news every day, and many entities are looking at it from different viewpoints,” said Barbara Zavodny, senior manager of Corporate Benefit Strategy for McCormick & Company Inc., a Sparks, Md.-based spice company.  “But hopefully, no one will lose sight of the importance of quality.  Bridges to Excellence has provided a framework to recognize providers that fit the quality definition.  I can't imagine any employer that would not support this concept.  I applaud companies, like Aetna, who know the importance of recognizing these providers and who have implemented rewards into their programs.”

Aetna has incorporated Bridges to Excellence methodology into its pay-for-performance strategy and programs nationally.  Currently, Aetna participates in existing Bridges to Excellence markets in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Louisville, Ky.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has long encouraged its members to adopt information technology and add quality improvement efforts to their practices. The Bridges to Excellence program rewards physicians who install systems for better care,” said Rick Kellerman, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“The AAFP supports pay-for-performance programs that engage patients and provide positive incentives for physicians. This program has a clear focus on office process improvement, not just outcomes of care. We have and will continue to support employers and health plans, such as Aetna, who implement the Bridges to Excellence model to reward physicians for improved quality of care.”

In Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, Aetna will employ two pay-for-performance programs operated by Bridges to Excellence:  The Diabetes Care Link and the Cardiac Care Link. Both programs focus on meeting approved high standards for treating chronic conditions.  Aetna provides health benefits to nearly 1 million members in this market.  Those members have access to a network of 75 hospitals, more than 4,000 primary care physicians and more than 13,000 specialists.

Recognized internal medicine and family practice physicians will be eligible for incentive payments of $100 per year per diabetic patient, and $160 per year per heart stroke/patient.  Patients must be age 18 and older, and covered by Aetna’s HMO-based health plans.  Those payments are in addition to what physicians receive for professional services provided to those patients.

Bridges to Excellence has distributed more than $4.7 million in rewards to more than 1,600 recognized physicians.

“We applaud Aetna for implementing this program, created by an external party, that incorporates so many of the elements the health care community has asked for in an incentive program,” said John R. Miller, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health.  “As commercial health care purchasers, our members understand very well the need to reward high-quality performance.  Bridges to Excellence and Aetna offer an encouraging example to us all.”


About Aetna
Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 35.9 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life, long-term care and disability plans, and medical management capabilities. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans and government-sponsored plans.

About Bridges to Excellence
Bridges to Excellence is a not-for-profit organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, efficient and patient-centered care. In addition to groups affiliated with the National Business Coalition on Health, Bridges to Excellence participants include large employers, health plans, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and several quality-improvement organizations. These organizations are united in their shared goal of improving health care quality through measurement, reporting, rewards and education.

For more information on Bridges to Excellence or to find out how to participate as an employer or a physician, visit the program's web site at


All rights reserved. BTE 2007.

Bridges to Excellence does not endorse any particular product or service or any physician or physician group.

Bridges to Excellence relies on third -party performance assessment organizations such as the NCQA and Quality Improvement Organizations to measure a physician or physician's group performance and ability to demonstrate that they meet certain measures of quality care.