America's largest commercial healthcare insurer is expanding into EHRs. UnitedHealth Group will launch an integrated and portable system for its 50 million fully benefited members by the end of next year, CEO David Wichmann said on the company's third quarter earnings call Tuesday morning.
Though details remain sparse, Wichmann said UnitedHealth plans to launch a "fully individualized, fully portable" EHR in 2019 leveraged off its existing mobile wellness platform Rally. The mobile platform currently allows its 20 million registered users to find savings for and get rewarded for maintaining wellness.
UnitedHealth is coming off a strong Q3, reporting better-than-expected earnings and revenue. Wichmann emphasized the payer's digital capabilities as a linchpin for its long-term growth, along with dual strategies of reining in costs and expanding its medical services group.
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EHRs are a point of contention for many healthcare organizations and physicians. They're expensive to implement, costly and time-consuming to train physicians and nurses on, highly variable between systems, prone to human errors, usually restrict interoperability between different companies and can even result in worse care for patients.
In a market dominated by two strong competitors, Epic and Cerner, it's also unclear how UnitedHealth's offering will stack up or interact with existing EHR platforms.
What we know: the health record will be a "deeply personal" tool that identifies gaps in care for consumers and suggests next "best actions" driven by the patient's medical data, Wichmann said. UnitedHealth is trying to position itself at the center of patient and doctor interactions. The EHR will also be available to providers in a model that looks similar to that used by patients but provides an element of predictive analytics "in the workflow of the physician's office."
It will build off Rally, a consumer digital health platform, to outline a customer's health record and determine whether there have been gaps in care. Rally, which provides information and tech-enabled services under UnitedHealth's umbrella, is a part of Optum: a UnitedHealth venture combining data analytics, a PBM and doctors.
"You might imagine what that could ultimately lead to in terms of continuing to develop a transaction flow between physicians and us and the consumer and us," Wichmann said on the call.
The payer wants to "set the health system around responding to those deeply personal circumstances and situations," Wichmann said, and act as the "custodian to try and drive better outcomes" while ensuring quality.