Friday, May 25, 2012

Turn and Face the Change

We celebrated Innovation Day at UnitedHealthcare this week. Each year, we all get together to share the company’s innovations and discuss where we can go next. When you mention innovation in health care, I suspect what comes to mind for most people is technological advances in surgery, clinical trials, different types of cancer treatment, etc. Hardly anyone I know thinks of innovation in terms of health insurance, yet insurance companies have been a catalyst for transformative changes that make health care more accessible, cost efficient and a higher quality, not only for patients but the entire health care industry.

Although I have lived through innovation for years at UnitedHealthcare, whenever we gather to review our most recent innovations I am amazed.

Recent UnitedHealthcare innovations to health insurance include our Health4Me mobile app which gives consumers instant access to their critical health information wherever they are and is free for all UnitedHealthcare members. Health4Me makes it easier for anyone with an iPhone to manage their health care.

Back in 2010, we introduced the NowClinic, an Internet site where consumers can log on to connect with a doctor. The cost of the “visit” – only $45. Currently in 22 states, the NowClinic has expanded to Rite Aid stores – including ones in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Patients now have the option to go into the store for a teleconsultation with a doctor. Such store-based options keep staffing costs low and increase convenience for consumers.

Our recent partnership with Comcast on the NOT ME diabetes prevention reality video-on-demand series grew out of a shared vision of a healthier America. While it may seem a bit “out of the box” and counterintuitive (the notion that you can watch a video-on-demand series from your couch and ultimately eliminate the onset of diabetes), NOT ME is a prime example of how new approaches are leading to simpler, more responsive, less costly healthcare.

In all these examples, innovation drove change and filled the need for a new way to deal with existing health care issues while raising the quality of care. Be it a new online tool or a reality-TV based health initiative, another similarity in the innovations we introduced is that they all help consumers take greater control of their health and health care spending. By giving consumers more information, we empower them to make better decisions about their health care.

One thing we like to say at UnitedHealthcare is, “better information, better decisions, better health.” There can be no doubt that information drives innovation, which gives a national company with the enormous number-crunching capability of UnitedHealthcare opportunities to develop and implement positive changes to the healthcare experience. Check us out at

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