OptumHealth's virtual behavioral health platform logs 500K visits since launch

The outside of UnitedHealth Group's headquarters
UnitedHealth Group released its second-quarter earnings Thursday morning. (UnitedHealth Group)

OptumHealth launched virtual behavioral health visits in the last year and is already seeing consumers take to this option.

Dirk McMahon, president and chief operating officer of UnitedHealth Group, said on a call with investors Thursday morning that the platform has seen more 500,000 visits since its launch, with user satisfaction rates at 98%.

McMahon said the platform is just one of "many initiatives" the healthcare giant has in the works to broaden its consumer-centric offerings.

UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty said on the call that the company significantly accelerated its work to develop new products in the quarter, with a focus on areas like oncology and rare disease management.

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"We're doubling down on efforts to both expand and link services where it creates value for consumers and patients," Witty said.

Former CEO David Wichmann similarly teased the development of new products, particularly digital therapeutics, on UnitedHealth Group's third-quarter 2020 earnings call last October. Earlier in the year, the company launched Level2, a digital therapy platform for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, Witty reiterated UnitedHealth's focus on finding ways to bring the capabilities of UnitedHealthcare and Optum together to drive innovation. UHG executives have named this a key strategic goal on multiple occasions over the past several months.

UnitedHealth Group reported $4.3 billion in profit for the second quarter of 2021, down from its massive haul in the prior-year quarter.

In the second quarter of 2020, the healthcare giant posted an eye-popping $6.6 billion in profit as healthcare utilization plummeted under the COVID-19 pandemic. The strong performance from insurers across the board a year ago prompted Congress to probe its finances.

Though profit was down year over year, the insurer did surpass Wall Street's expectations on both earnings and revenue, according to analysts at Zacks Investment Research. UnitedHealth Group brought in $71.3 billion in revenue for the quarter, up from $62.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

“The compassion, dedication and ongoing efforts of our 330,000 colleagues to advance peoples’ health and health system performance reinforces our confidence in delivering strongly on our strategies for those we serve and continuing to grow well into the future,” said Witty in a statement.

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Through the first six months of 2021, UnitedHealth Group brought in $9.1 billion in profit, down from $10 billion in the first half of 2020. Total revenues through June 30, 2021, were $141.5 billion, up from $126.6 billion a year ago.

At UnitedHealthcare, membership has grown by 1.2 million since the end of 2020, with Medicare Advantage a notable source of that growth. The country's largest health plan also pointed toward Medicaid contract awards in Ohio and Hawaii as growth opportunities, with a "strong pipeline" of potential awards and renewals for the rest of 2021.

By the end of the second quarter of 2021, OptumHealth had served 99 million people, up from 97 million people a year prior. Revenue per consumer served was up 43% year over year, Optum said.

OptumRx filled 342 million scripts in the second quarter, up 8% from the prior-year quarter and up 4% from the first quarter of 2021, UnitedHealth said.

Based on the results, UnitedHealth Group raised its full-year guidance to between $18.30 and $18.80 per share.