- UnitedHealth Group has acquired PatientsLikeMe, an online health network that connects patients with similar diseases and access to a place where they can share information. UnitedHealth Group is the parent organization of the nation's largest commercial insurer.
- Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- PatientsLikeMe will become part of UnitedHealth's research and development unit, according to a statement from the online health network.
The acquisition adds to UnitedHealth's growing portfolio. The company completed its $4.3 billion buy of Davita Medical Group last week after securing approval from the Federal Trade Commission. Days later, the payer also reportedly reached a deal to acquire healthcare payments firm Equian for $3.2 billion.
An integral part of PatientsLikeMe is patients sharing their own health data, which is causing worry for some now that the site is connected to an insurance company, according to online posts.
Months earlier, the U.S. government forced the network's majority owner — Chinese firm iCarbonx — to unwind its stake over concerns about foreign investments, according to CNBC. That forced PatientsLikeUs to hunt for a new buyer.
"Through patient-generated data, deep biology and artificial intelligence (AI) we hope to democratize learning so everyone can understand how their medical, behavioral and environmental factors may advance or mitigate disease and optimize health," PatientsLikeMe said on its website.
The network was founded by brothers who wanted to find a way to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig's disease for their brother, Stephen Heywood, who was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29.
The site, launched in 2006, now boasts it has attracted more than 650,000 people living with 2,900 conditions and has collected more than 43 million data points, "creating an unprecedented source of real-world evidence and opportunities for continuous learning," according to its website.