Optum, SSM Health team up to tackle healthcare affordability, accessibility

Optum and health system giant SSM Health are joining forces to address the accessibility and affordability of healthcare.

The partnership will touch on a number of areas including inpatient care management, revenue cycle management and digital transformation. The collaboration will allow the two to rethink the patient care journey and more seamlessly integrate digital solutions into their care.

SSM and Optum's parent company UnitedHealth Group will also jointly invest in community health initiatives with the goal of advancing health equity, according to the announcement. The investments will focus on addressing health equity gaps and other priorities in SSM's key Midwest communities.

“We are thrilled to partner with SSM Health to advance a next-generation holistic approach to health that empowers all people to lead their healthiest lives,” said Dan Schumacher, chief strategy and growth officer of UnitedHealth Group, in a statement. “This new relationship further builds on Optum’s support of local care systems across the country to enhance affordable, patient-centric care that is easy to access, sustainable and high-quality.”

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The partnership will harness data analytics and clinical technology tools to map out an inpatient delivery model that reduces unnecessary costs while improving quality and patient outcomes. Tech tools will offer critical insights at the point of care to reduce variation, Optum said.

In addition, it will allow for technology upgrades to patient and physician billing, which should simplify the process, enhancing patient satisfaction with revenue cycle processes.

It also aims to streamline the patient experience with digital health tools, increasing patient loyalty and reducing unneeded costs.

“Creating a new ecosystem of care requires bringing together the best and the brightest to collaborate for the common good,” said Laura Kaiser, president and CEO of SSM Health, in a statement.

“The commitment of UnitedHealth Group and Optum to improving health care experiences and outcomes for everyone aligns well with SSM Health’s Mission to ensure all people have access to high-quality, compassionate and affordable care," Kaiser said. "We are excited to partner with them to achieve our vision of transforming health care in America—and address the health equity gap for the most vulnerable in society.”

As a result of the partnership, certain SSM employees in revenue cycle management and hospital care management will make the switch to Optum, though they will continue working to support the health system in their current locations, Optum said.