Cigna (NYSE: CI) and Valley Preferred are launching a collaborative accountable care initiative to improve patient access to health care, enhance care coordination, and achieve the “ triple aim” of improved health, affordability and patient experience. The program, Cigna's first collaborative accountable care initiative to launch in Pennsylvania, is effective July 1. Collaborative accountable care is Cigna's approach to accomplishing the same population health goals as accountable care organizations, or ACOs. The program will benefit approximately 5,500 individuals covered by a Cigna health plan who receive care from Valley Preferred primary care and specialty physicians. “Valley Preferred is pleased to partner with Cigna in this innovative care coordination effort to enhance patient engagement and overall population health,” said Dr. Jack Lenhart, executive director, Valley Preferred. “Together, Valley Preferred physicians and care coordinators, along with Cigna, will work to achieve measureable improvements in patient care and sustainability of community health.” “We need a patient-centered health care system that emphasizes prevention and primary care, and rewards physicians for quality of care and outcomes,” said Julia Huggins, Cigna president and general manager for Pennsylvania. “A system that’s focused on value rather than volume will ultimately lead to a healthier population and lower medical costs, which is good for individuals, families, employers and doctors.” Under the program, Valley Preferred physicians monitor and coordinate all aspects of an individual’s medical care. Patients continue to go to their current physician and automatically receive the benefits of the program. Individuals who are enrolled in a Cigna health plan and later choose to seek care from a Valley Preferred physician will also have access to the benefits of the program. There are no changes in any plan requirements regarding referrals to specialists. Patients most likely to see the immediate benefits of the program are those who need help managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.