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OptumHealth to buy healthcare services company Connextions

Population health management company OptumHealth announced Wednesday it will acquire healthcare services and customer relations company Connextions Inc., in a deal eyeing the ongoing shift toward consumerism in the insurance and healthcare market.

The combined company will offer a broad array of services to health insurance carriers via OptumHealth, which provides services to plan members to help them better manage their health, and Connextions' customer service outsourcing, which helps to both recruit and retain new members.

"Connextions' consumer engagement expertise, combined with OptumHealth's ability to connect people to the right care and health resources, can help our clients make the most of their opportunities to build strong relationships with consumers," said Dawn Owens, chief executive officer of OptumHealth, in a prepared statement announcing the agreement.

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Connextions' outsourcing services to clients is based on its bConnected Consumer Engagement Platform, which uses analytics to helps the company provide proactive customer outreach –via phone, email and chat features.

"By coming together, OptumHealth and Connextions will become stronger partners for both our clients and the consumers they serve," said Jack LeFort, CEO of Connextions. "We look forward to providing our clients with the same dedicated focus and results they expect from Connextions, while helping them benefit from the additional opportunities this partnership with OptumHealth will bring to their vital consumer relationships."

The combination of recruitment and retention services, with OptumHealth's focus on helping a health plan's membership navigate the healthcare system via its helplines, will help patients get the care and services they need from Connextions. The company currently serves more than 40 million people through its existing contracts with health insurance companies. Its services range from behavioral and clinical health support, online health coaching and counseling for complex medical conditions, to health savings accounts.

The planned acquisition of Connextions by OptumHealth, the services division of health insurer UnitedHealth, is a combination of thriving companies.

Ten-year-old Connextions has been on an aggressive growth curve in the past few months, greatly expanding its in-house agent and customer service staffs at three locations, plans that would swell its employee base by more than 2,500 at locations in North Carolina, Florida and Indiana. Total employment for the company today numbers more than 4,300.

"Demand is growing very steadily for our deep experience working with consumers as they purchase health care products – like health insurance – and learn how to use their plans to get well and stay well. We are committed to having 100 percent of our employees located in the United States. The consumer experience is much smoother when Americans familiar with the U.S. health care system are serving the needs of other Americans who are navigating it," said Todd Baxter, executive vice president of Connextions' Consumer Division in an announcement of the company's opening of a new service center in Indiana that will eventually employee 750 people.