Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our new office challenge will get employees throughout Philadelphia working for better health.

On your mark, get set, go! It’s the Indy 500 of weight loss challenges, and it’s happening right here in Philadelphia. This summer, my company is teaming up with Philadelphia Magazine to launch a new get-fit office challenge.

Here’s how it’s going to work: Teams of ten employees from four different offices will compete to lose the most total pounds and improve their overall wellness. To help them through the process, we’re giving them a free eight-week gym membership and tons of nutrition and healthy lifestyle tips from some of Philly’s top health and fitness experts. The winners will earn the coveted title of Philly’s Fittest Office!

And because we want the winners of our “Be Well Philly Office Challenge” to keep up their new, healthier lifestyles, the grand prize is jam-packed with health and fitness gifts from local businesses. The prize includes a free year membership to Sweat Fitness, makeovers from Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon, Zoom! teeth whitening from Pennsylvania Center for Dental Excellence, new workout gear and much more.

What’s so great about this contest is that the team named Philly’s Fittest Office isn’t the only winner in the end. Everyone who competes has the chance to reap the benefits of adopting healthier eating habits, improving their physical fitness and taking a more active role in maintaining their overall health. The more employers and employees we can help get excited about making changes and living a healthier life, the closer we’ll be to better health for everyone.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You can find us on the road, connecting people across the country with the latest innovation in health care – Part 2

In my last post, I started talking about the Connected Care mobile demonstration clinic, a moving showcase of our telehealth initiative designed to make health care more accessible to underserved communities. It’s a truly remarkable program that could drastically improve our health care system, so I want to say a little more about it.

Right now, we’re working on building Connected Care into a national system of permanent telehealth clinics that will give patients across the country access to physicians and specialists when in-person visits are not possible, practical or convenient. As I mentioned before, the clinics can be set up in office buildings, town hall buildings, other medical clinics, government centers, retail locations or wherever else more convenient and affordable medical care is needed.

The Connected Care clinics combine video conferencing with sophisticated medical devices designed for remote use to expand the scope of physicians’ practices by enabling them to care for patients who are tens, hundreds or even thousands miles away. High-tech, integrated equipment coordinates with electronic medical records and other health information technology. Besides an examination camera, the telehealth location has a full range of medical office equipment, such as a dermascope, vital signs monitor, glucometer and electrocardiogram (ECG).

Here’s how a telehealth visit works: After the patient checks in to a clinic, a nurse or health care professional administers a pre-exam workup. A doctor then joins the visit live on a high-definition screen while the onsite professional administers the exam using diagnostic tools, creating a virtual yet personal experience remarkably similar to a face-to-face meeting. At the end of the exam, the onsite professional works with the physician to develop a treatment plan if necessary, coordinate educational materials and respond to any questions or concerns the patient might have.

Connected Care clinics can help make health care more efficient and affordable for patients by minimizing expensive visits to the emergency room, eliminating long trips to see specialists and making preventive services like flu shots, biometric screenings and healthy checkups more convenient. It’s a step forward for higher quality, lower costs and a better health care system for everyone.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You can find us on the road, connecting people across the country with the latest innovation in health care – Part 1

Pop quiz: What has 18 wheels, works by satellite and makes it possible for a doctor to examine a patient from thousands of miles away?

It’s UnitedHealthcare’s Connected Care demonstration truck, setup as a mobile showcase of our latest innovation. Wherever it parks, the truck opens up for tours and demonstrations of the telehealth technology we’re using to establish permanent “Connected Care” clinics in cities across the country.

These Connected Care clinics combine audio and video technology and cutting-edge health care resources to greatly expand physicians’ reach into rural, urban and other underserved areas. The clinics can be set up wherever needed: in the workplace, in a city center, at a retail location or in rural areas to create a virtual office visit for people who don’t have the means or ability to travel to a doctor for an in-person examination. Doctors can see and hear the patient live from their locations in real time, and patients can see and hear a doctor live on a high-definition screen at their telehealth clinic location.

So far, we’ve launched a few pilot clinics around the country, but we’re still working on building Connected Care into a national network. That’s why we’re taking our mobile truck around to show doctors and other medical professionals, employers, insurance brokers and the general public how telehealth technology works.

The UnitedHealth Group Connected Care mobile clinic is on a nationwide tour. After setting up shop in Erie, Pa last weekend outside of Jerry Uht Park, home of the Erie SeaWolves minor league baseball team, the truck will be here in Philadelphia on Thursday for our Summer Splash event with Mayor Michael Nutter!

The mobile demonstration clinic is pretty impressive to see in person – at 80 feet in length, the truck is longer than a standard tennis court and can send voice, video and data to a satellite 22,300 miles above the Earth in about a quarter-second. And with stops across the country scheduled all the way into the winter, it could be on its way to a city near you. Make sure to stop by and experience firsthand how telehealth technology can transform our health care system.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

UnitedHealthcare improves another online aid to help consumer better estimate medical costs.

Last time I told you about recent improvements we have made to our Quicken Health Expense Tracker software, which helps UnitedHealthcare’s consumers manage and pay their health care costs. 
More big news! Health Expense Tracker is not the only online software we’ve upgraded.  We also just expanded our Treatment Cost Estimator to include physician-specific pricing on numerous medical procedures.
The Treatment Cost Estimator pinpoints fees for treatments and procedures specific to individual network physicians and geographic areas.  Covering 116 diseases, 90 surgeries and procedures, and more than 500 individual services, the program provides cost estimates for thousands of physicians in more than 400 different markets. 
Now, the Treatment Cost Estimator also incorporates UnitedHealthcare customers’ specific health plan information to estimate what portion of those costs they would be responsible for paying and remind them of any available funds in their health care accounts.  The program provides a more complete view of how a treatment cost differs from doctor to doctor, giving UnitedHealthcare plan participants the power to comparison shop for health services. 
Health Expense Tracker and Treatment Cost Estimator both reflect UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to employ user-friendly technology to make health care and health insurance information more accessible and easier to understand – the key to making health care more efficient and effective.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

New version of Expense Tracker software lets people pay medical expenses online with credit/debit card.

A few months ago I told you about some really neat software called Quicken Health Expense Tracker, a free online program we offer all UnitedHealthcare plan participants that helps them understand their medical expenses at a glance.
Big news! We just announced an exciting new Health Expense Tracker capability that will make managing medical costs even easier.

The Health Expense Tracker software now has a new bill pay feature that lets health plan participants pay their medical expenses online by credit or debit card or with a qualified health care account. The software sends payments directly to the care-giver and records the amounts in the consumer’s Health Expense Tracker records.

Health Expense Tracker automatically assembles a complete financial picture of an individual’s medical-related savings and expenses in one convenient location by continually updating current claims information. The program sends email alerts for outstanding balances, tracks medical expenses for tax reporting and helps determine proper funding levels for pretax savings vehicles such as flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts. Health Expense Tracker also helps consumers understand the total cost of health care services t by keeping track of deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, and breaking down calculations behind the amount billed.

With information written in clear, non-medical language, Health Expense Tracker simplifies records of an individual’s care and medical benefits, making it a great online resource to help all of us become better health care consumers. Maybe that’s why an average of more than 10,000 plan participants have signed up to use the tools each month since we introduced the program in December of last year.