Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Fresenius Medical Care (NYSE: FMS) today announced the launch of a joint program aimed at improving clinical outcomes and reducing costs by slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease in members and facilitating gentler, less costly transitions to dialysis or pre-transplant care. Chronic kidney disease is the slow loss of kidney function over time and is often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. The new patient-centric care program enhances coordination of care among specialists, primary care providers and nurses. Together, they identify members at risk and improve clinical management in earlier stages of kidney disease to help slow the progression to kidney failure. An important component of the program involves daily communication of the member’s biometric and health status through a wireless communication device that helps the care team identify, address or even prevent potentially serious complications. "We believe the model will improve our members' quality of life by helping them and their doctors better manage the conditions contributing to or resulting from chronic kidney disease. If dialysis becomes necessary we want to help members begin dialysis with the lowest risk for complications,” says Roger London, M.D., Aetna’s Northeast Region medical director. Often people do not know they have chronic kidney disease because the kidneys may slowly stop working over 10 - 20 years before end-stage disease -- kidney failure – results. Kidney failure often involves an abrupt hospitalization to control complications and to start dialysis. Better coordination, education, planning and awareness of dialysis options provided through the program can help members begin dialysis treatment on a safer, less costly outpatient basis .A track-record of success The program is modeled on Fresenius Health Partners’ successful five-year demonstration project with Medicare beneficiaries on dialysis. Concluded last year with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the project resulted in health care costs 12 percent below the Medicare Advantage and four percent below the Medicare fee-for-service benchmarks for this population. At the same time patients in the program experienced overall improvement in clinical measures including a 24 percent improvement in the rate of mortality and a 20 percent reduction in all-cause hospitalization versus national benchmarks.