The nation’s largest commercial health insurer has announced plans to launch an electronic health record (EHR) system accessible by its 50 million benefited plan members by the end of 2019.
In an earnings call last week, UnitedHealth Group CEO Dave Wichmann said the company is developing a “fully integrated and fully portable individual health record that delivers personalized next-best health actions to people and their caregivers.”
The technology is being developed on the insurer’s Rally health and wellness platform, which influences members to perform healthy behavior in exchange for incentive dollars that can be applied to health benefits accounts. Since its acquisition by UnitedHealth in 2014 under the name Audax Health, Rally has grown to 20 million registered users.
“We would use the Rally chassis … to help provide individuals in a way which they could comprehend a tool, if you will, not only outlining their individual health record but also giving them next-best-action detail,” Wichmann said on the call.
Rally is a division of Optum, UnitedHealth’s health IT and health data services arm. The company’s decision to move forward on its portable EHR plans comes on the back of a strong third quarter for the insurer which saw revenues increase by 12.4 percent year-over-year to $56.6 billion, outpacing analyst expectations.
The first inklings of UnitedHealth’s plan to develop portable individual health records date back to last November when it was mentioned by company’s leaders at their annual conference. The company was also previously mentioned as a potential acquirer for health IT and EHR company Athenahealth.
UnitedHealth’s ambition is to create a platform to collect and distribute “deeply personalized” health information down to the individual member, which will highlight gaps in care and more easily allow patients to asses the care they’ve been provided.
In response to an analyst question about how the company’s portable EHR can working with existing systems like Cerner and Epic, Wichmann said UnitedHealth’s data also be packaged and presented to clinicians and physicians in a form more like existing EHRs to fit into the provider’s existing workflow.
“You might imagine what this could ultimately lead to in terms of continuing to develop a transaction flow between the physician and us and the consumer and us being the custodian to try to drive better health outcomes for so we believe it to be pretty transformative across our business,” Wichmann said.
In a note to investors, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Steven Halper wrote that “this product, along with many other Optum offerings, should drive broad-based adoption across UNH product lines and in theory benefit third-party payers that also use Optum’s tools.”
“The Rally EHR should be able to tap into different EHRs that use APIs and other cstandards, which are being more-widely adopted. Rally EHR should be viewed as a consumer engagement tool and not as a threat to legacy provider EHR products,” Halper wrote.
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