UnitedHealth Group’s fast-growing Optum healthcare services unit is rolling out what it hopes will be a “city-by-city” effort to make medical care more seamless to patients.
Andrew Witty, the President of UnitedHealth Group and CEO of Optum said Wednesday evening at the 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit that the hundreds of clinics, surgery centers and urgent care assets the company has acquired will increasingly be “wired together” in markets across the U.S. The company has identified 10 markets where that process is underway.
While UnitedHealth continues to be the nation’s largest health insurance company, selling commercial, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans, its finding growth on the medical care provider side of the healthcare system. Optum owns one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit managers in OptumRx as well as an array of medical care provider businesses, including doctor practices, surgery centers and urgent care sites across the country.
“(We are) bringing together all of the elements of Optum in an ecosystem at the local level,” Andrew Witty, who is CEO of Optum and was recently promoted to president of UnitedHealth Group, told Moira Forbes in a special fireside chat Wednesday evening at the annual Forbes Healthcare Summit at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
Optum is the largest owner and operator of doctor practices with more than 45,000 physicians either employed or contracted to work for the company. With those doctors, clinics and other aspects under the Optum umbrella, Witty said the company wants to increasingly “wire them together” and provide them with health data and related insights to improve patient outcomes across the country.
Witty said Optum will be able to provide physicians “advice” so they have better access to innovation. “We can smooth out the time it takes for the patient to get the care they need” from primary care doctors and the specialists they are referring to, Witty said.