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UnitedHealth to roll out interoperable personal health record to 20 million members

Profit surpasses expectations; Deal with John Muir Health to run non-clinical operations is the first of many collaborations.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

UnitedHealth Group's second quarter earnings from operations grew by 12.8 percent year-over-year to $4.7 billion, surpassing expectations.

CEO David Wichmann said the results reflect strong performance from insurer UnitedHealthcare and business services arm, Optum.

Thursday's earnings call highlighted this week's announcement of Optum's  collaboration with John Muir Health in Walnut Creek, California, to manage the hospital's non-clinical functions. Approximately 540 John Muir Health employees will become Optum employees.

While other health systems contract for such services as revenue cycle management, OptumInsight CEO Eric Murphy called this collaboration unique.

"Our partnership with John Muir Health really represents one of the most comprehensive in the healthcare industry, between a delivery system and a healthcare services company," Murphy said Thursday. "The integrated scope of services includes acute and ambulatory revenue cycle management end-to-end information technology services, ambulatory care coordination, enterprise analytics, purchasing and consulting services."

Several hundred regional health systems have similar size and market opportunity as John Muir, and Optum is already in discussions with several high-performing independent community based systems to establish similar  partnerships, he said.

Another announcement is the roll-out of UnitedHealth's interoperable personal digital-health record for members to access information from their  hospitals, doctor's office and insurer.

"The first 20 million real time interoperable individual health records are being scheduled for market deployment," Wichmann said.

By the end of this year, the digital engagement capacities will be available to nearly 20% of the U.S. population, he said.

DRUGS

While the Trump Administration has rolled back on a plan for drug rebates to be passed directly to consumers rather than pharmacy benefit managers and insurers, UnitedHealth said it would continue to pass the rebates onto individuals.

To meet a dramatic rise in oncology drug spending, the OptumCare Cancer Center in Nevada has shown that decoupling oncology drug payments from physician compensation can reduce pharmaceutical spending for seniors by nearly 30%, according to Optum CEO Andrew Witty.

VALUE-BASED PAYMENTS

Value-based payments to care providers grew at more than 15% in 2019 and are expected to accelerate in the coming years.

Navigate4Me, a personalized service for seniors with chronic conditions, has shown a 14% reduction in hospitalizations, and a 9% reduction in ER visits for patients with congestive heart failure, according to Dirk McMahon, who was recently named CEO of UnitedHealthcare. The technology platform offers a single point of contact for the concierge service.

The company sees more opportunity across inpatient and outpatient services for more than $20 billion in potential annual savings in spend in UnitedHealthcare's employer and individual business alone. This will be done  through reducing unwanted variations in care, converting care to the most appropriate side of service and aligning with high performing delivery systems, UnitedHealth said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com