Blues, UnitedHealth launch IT initiatives for ACOs, cloud computing

Looking to increase relationships among patients, payers and providers, health IT vendor Lumeris and three Blues plans--Highmark, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Independence Blue Cross--announced today an agreement to purchase healthcare communication network NaviNet.

The plan is part of an effort to ease the adoption of accountable care models, the companies announced. Lumeris claims to have created the first accountable care delivery platform in the healthcare industry.

What's more, Lumeris CEO Mike Long called this "the largest [initiative] in the country supporting the accountable care movement."

The Blues plans aren't the only insurers jumping on the IT bandwagon of late. Optum, the health services division of UnitedHealth Group, announced this morning plans to launch a cloud-based service that enables doctors to share information with their patients, the Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

"The cloud represents a shared investment in information technology that gets at some of the fundamental requirements--like security--which is absolutely critical when dealing with healthcare information," IBM Vice President of Healthcare Delivery Sean Hogan said, according to the Star-Tribune. IBM is one of Optum's partners, along with Cisco, EMC and Hewlett-Packard.

"For smaller organizations to be able to tap into information technology resources without having to invest in the physical infrastructure is likely to be compelling to many people," Hogan continued.

Last month, UnitedHealth announced a partnership with three mobile health IT companies--CareSpeak Communications, Lose It! And FitBit--as part of a new mobile-centric strategy. Meanwhile, Aetna in December acquired Healthagen--the company that developed the iTriage mobile app, which provides information about medical issues and finds nearby providers or health facilities--as part of its accountable care strategy.

To learn more:
- read the Blues, Lumeris, NaviNet announcement
- check out this Minneapolis Star-Tribune article
- here's the Associated Press article

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