The buzz around healthcare may be all about what Amazon.com can do to upset the status quo once its deal for digital drugstore PillPack.com is complete.
But the nation’s biggest commercial health insurer—UnitedHealth Group Inc.—took to the stage on its second-quarter earnings call to give Wall Street analysts an earful on how advanced (and important) digital and mobile healthcare is to its organization.
UnitedHealth, which spends more than $2 billion annually by its own measure on information and digitally driven technology, made 20 different references to digital healthcare during its quarterly investment call with analysts. “Digital health is a UnitedHealth Group growth pillar, like pharmacy care services,” Optum CEO Andrew Witty told analysts based on a transcript from SeekingAlpha.com. “Rally, part of Optum, has emerged as a market-leading comprehensive consumer digital health platform, fully implemented and operating at scale, with multi-payer capabilities—Rally is our digital front door for the consumer.”
Rally is a digital health platform featuring a suite of online and mobile that help people manage their health and healthcare needs, and Optum is the carrier’s health services business. “Rally has now surpassed $1 billion in cumulative incentives paid to consumers, standing apart in an early stage digital health marketplace,” Witty told analysts. Consumers earned these incentives for taking real actions to improve their health, like receiving biometric screenings, working to stop smoking or selecting a primary care physician, to just name three of many.”
Though UnitedHealth didn’t release many specifics, Rally and similar digital health tools are helping to reduce unneeded medical costs among UnitedHealth plan members by giving plan members better ways to manage and improve their health and wellness. “By moving to digital coaching from legacy telephonic models,” Witty noted. “Rally triples the number of individuals engaging in our programs, while creating much higher consumer engagement intensity and loyalty. As a result, our customers are avoiding millions of dollars in downstream medical costs.”
With another digital program—PreCheck MyScript—UnitedHealth also is seeing better outcomes in managing prescription drug costs. It is a digital program and mobile app for doctors to write and renew prescriptions faster.
PreCheck MyScript is a digital program and mobile app for doctors to write and renew prescriptions faster. The program is accessed through Link, the carrier’s physician health portal, and enables doctors to run a pharmacy trial claim before prescribing a medication for patients with UnitedHealthCare plans. Doctors can see how much a patient would have to pay for a medication if she went to her preferred pharmacy at that very moment to pick it up, the carrier says
PreCheck MyScript will also give lower-cost alternatives when available for higher-cost medications to save patients money, the carrier says. For example, when doctors look up a particular medication, they can see immediately whether the patient’s plan covers the medication and whether it requires a prior authorization. If it does, doctors can request approval right from the PreCheck MyScript app in just a few clicks, the carrier says. PreCheck MyScript has now been integrated into the practice flow of physicians who treat as many as 5 million patients annually, according to UnitedHealthcare.
“Our digital PreCheck MyScript service offers clarity, transparency and simplicity to the prescribing physician through their electronic medical record, while helping patients at the point of care,” Witt told analysts.
For the quarter ended June 30, Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth grew revenue year over year by 12% to $56.1 billion from $50.1 billion while net earnings were $3.01 billion compared with $2.25 billion in the second quarter of 2017. UnitedHealth didn’t release any specific financial metrics on its digital healthcare programs, but the carrier will continue to invest steadily in digital and consumer-focused initiatives, CEO David Wichmann told analysts. “Our ability then to use digital assets and other ways to engage consumer around lifestyle behavior modifications creates a great attraction,” he told analysts.
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