On June 8th and 9th, Aetna hosted a learning visit to its headquarters in Hartford, CT where 45 executives gathered to learn about the company’s leading edge work. Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini, who is a sustaining member of CHL, shared how Aetna has created a distinctive environment allowing individuals to be creative and achieve results. Bertolini talked about Aetna’s innovations and investments for employees and the changes he envisions for the health care system.
Aetna’s higher ambition vision is, simply put, a re-imagined healthcare system where the health objectives of the consumer take absolute priority under a model of healthcare that is simple, easy-to-use and consumer-centric. Toward that end, Aetna is designing a new system to support a consumer’s health objectives when he/she is willing to partner in monitoring and improving his or her own health.
Invest in Your People First
Aetna’s efforts to lead with higher ambition serve as an excellent example of how the power of purpose enables organizational transformation and increased performance on the part of its employees. And Aetna is finding out firsthand that it improves the corporate bottom line and begins a cycle that drives innovation, satisfaction and profitability. According to Bertolini, “by delivering on our base results, we then have the space to invest in the future of our business.”
One poignant example is Aetna’s recently introduced social contract with its employees. As a first step, it provided wage increases for its lowest paid employees, many of whom were not able to make ends meet. Specifically, Aetna increased the beginning wage to $16.00 per hour and reduced out-of-pocket health care costs for employees with low household incomes. The effect on employee performance from this move has been positive – increased employee engagement resulting in improved customer service, which will likely improve the company’s profitability in the long run.
In Bertolini’s words, “Imagine a health care model where the decisions are made by the consumer in his home.” He described a neighborhood healthcare worker, a community-based professional committed to support and monitor the factors that have an effect on her patient’s health. “We will invest in social determinants of health care. It’s cheaper to make those investments than it is to wait for a person to show up in critical condition in the health care system. In the new model, we will focus on keeping people healthy at home.” said Bertolini. For example in his own company, Bertolini has invested in wellness programs, including mindfulness, stress reduction and sleep programs for employees. They are partnering with the company to improve their health.
Bertolini firmly believes that the time is ripe and the capabilities exist to reimagine this new healthcare system. He also believes national leaders in health care are ready to make the transition from fee-for-service to the total healthcare model that Aetna is beginning to establish.
Making of the Masterpiece
“Like an artist painting on a canvas, living through change and disruption isn’t pretty, but in retrospection, it will turn out to be the right thing, and a beautiful masterpiece,” Bertolini told the executives in the room.
Aetna is an extraordinary example of how business can make a difference for humanity. As a Higher Ambition Leader, Bertolini is tapping the power of purpose to build trust and win in the marketplace in the long run. “Aetna is 165 years old,” Bertolini told his audience. “We have always found a way to make a difference and to lead and innovate in the businesses we run.”