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Optum is fun to watch. They are quickly becoming the New York Yankees of healthcare. They are buying capabilities. Much like baseball you still have to integrate those acquisitions into a whole in order to get to the objective. Optum is acquiring physicians, data, and capabilities to deliver into every growing number of venues. Today we take a look at what some of these acquisitions mean for healthcare providers. 

Transcript

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 Today in Health it, the story is about Landmark Health. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping Health IT staff current and engaged. Today's sponsor is Health Lyrics. It's my company. I provide executive coaching for health leaders around technology and it.

If you wanna learn more, check out health lyrics.com. All right to today's story. I had a conversation yesterday with someone who pointed out that I didn't really comment on the Optum Landmark deal, and they thought it was one of the most impactful deals in a long time. So I thought I'd go back and take a look at it.

And since it's a Friday, I'm just gonna meander around this story a little bit, not be as direct as I usually am. I, I, I realize that I probably didn't comment on it because I never, it never really made the finalized status in the mainstream healthcare news outlets. Uh, regardless. Let's talk about the importance of any landmark health deal and what it means to health it and health systems.

Alright, so this is from their website. If you're not familiar with Landmark Health, it's actually based out of my former hometown of Huntington Beach, California. Landmark is a home health provider and their website says this, landmark approaches care using patient's personal health characteristics, not historic utilization.

And we provide care day and night every day of the year. Including weekends and holidays. Our medical care is in addition to patients regularly, regular primary care providers. So essentially they work with primary care providers. They work with health systems, but they do the, the nuts and bolts of delivering that care in the home.

They talk about some of their outcomes, 28% hospital readmission reduction in 97% of their hospital care is done in the home. Care service areas are about, let's see, 17 states or so. In September of 2020, Aetna signed a deal with Landmark CVS Health owned Aetna will expand its home-based services to Medicare Advantage members in New York through a new relationship with in-home medical care provider Landmark.

Under the collaboration with Landmark Health eligible Aetna members will be able to receive services like wound care lab draws, catheter maintenance and medication adherence in their home. Members will also get 24 7 access to landmark healthcare provider and providers can share data with members, primary care physicians and home Healthcare News reported this in late February of this year, so about 30 days ago.

Optum a part of United he group. Has reportedly reached a deal to acquire in-Home Medical Group. Landmark Health. Rumors of such a deal between United and Landmark came from m and a Intelligence service merge market, which cited four sources familiar with the situation. Landmark declined, uh, a request for comment from home healthcare news.

Which was unable to independently confirm merge markets report. Again, this is, uh, from 30 days ago. I tried to confirm this in the mainstream healthcare news. You know, the Becker's, the modern healthcare, but I really wasn't able to find anything at this point. So, but let's just assume this goes through, this article goes on to talk about this, acquiring a company like Landmark.

Makes strategic sense for UnitedHealth and his population health focus. Optum especially as more and more healthcare services are shifted into the home as a result of C Ovid 19 pandemic. UnitedHealth group's CEO David Wickman elaborated on the importance of the home during the January 20th conference call to discuss the fourth quarter financial results as the pandemic disrupted care patterns.

We all saw the increased need to enhance in-home and alternative settings of care. Offering patients the ability to receive safe, effective, and efficient care outside of the traditional venues. Wickman said, however, the need for in-home care will continue to grow well beyond the current environment, and that's gonna be my so what, but I'll keep going.

Roughly 80% of what impacts the person's health happens outside of the traditional healthcare settings. The CEO noted Optum's rumor deal. Values land market, about three and a half billion according to Emerge Market, which claim the transaction is still undergoing regulatory review. Where are they going?

This is from an article about United's acquisition of Atri out of Massachusetts. This is a Boston nonprofit which provides medical services for. One in 10 people in the state of Massachusetts. And again, a different article, different uh, concept here, but physician practices that need capital often find big hospital systems to be eager buyers.

And Boston has plenty Atrius, though has agreed to be acquired by another healthcare powerhouse, United Health Groups, Optum Health Unit. The healthcare conglomerate that owns the biggest US medical insurer, UnitedHealthcare has assembled one of the country's largest collection of doctors, more than 53,000 or about 5% of the US physicians.

UnitedHealth wants to add at least 10,000 this year, and if regulators clear the proposed deal, atrius, 700 doctors and primary care providers will be among them. Alright, so what's the so what here? We started talking about population health in the provider space about a decade ago. This is . Really the battleground today who can provide wellness and turn the equation on its head from sick care to keeping people healthy.

I think this ties to Amazon Care's extensive coverage of a really, what was an internal announcement? Hey, we're going to expand to 50 states and cover our own employees, and you couldn't find a healthcare. Outlet that didn't cover it, including ours. This is about really a relentless pursuit of a consumer oriented model, a consumer requested model.

This is what Amazon does best. So Amazon has a relentless pursuit around what is the consumer asking for? What are they looking for, and that's what they're developing. This is also what you happening here. This is saying, uh, UnitedHealth continues to grow and they continue to go after this market that is around.

Population health. It's around keeping people healthy and they are es establishing a extensive network of physicians. They are establishing an extensive set of capabilities to go into the home and to care for people. They're establishing an extensive set of data capabilities. We'll probably comment on this next week, but just the AHA is pushing back on their change healthcare acquisition 'cause it gives 'em too much data.

And data is really what is going to change Healthcare. I've believed this for almost a decade now. When I came in, I looked at it and I said, look, if we can ever get this data right, if we can ever a match the right amounts of data, we're gonna be able to provide . A population health wellness care model better than with any kind of technology per se, because what we need is a whole person profile, and that's what the data gives us, is that whole person profile.

But you gotta marry that, that digital capability with physical capabilities. And this is why people are concerned about Amazon coming into the market because Amazon has the ability to go from digital to physical. They can get . Into the physical world, and I, I, I've commented on this several times this week, so if I'm repeating myself, I'm becoming more like my father.

But the reality is that if Amazon had handled the vaccination around the country and they weren't capable of it, they didn't have the clinicians, but let's just assume they did, uh, it would've been a. Really efficient process. It probably would've been done in the home. They would've sent people out. They probably would've done well over a hundred million people by now because that's what they are.

They're a digital company that can turn things into logistics, turn things into actual results in the physical world. And so there's a relentless pursuit right now going on of what does the consumer want, and the consumer doesn't want to sit in a waiting room and wait for the doctor and go into a room and wait for that doctor to come into that room and wait literally about 30 minutes or.

20 to 30 minutes after their actual appointment, till they finally see the physician. And then they only see the physician for about five minutes and they write something or whatever, hand them something, and then they go their, their merry way. They have no idea how much it's gonna cost and the, the experience wasn't all that great.

They still have to drive to the pharmacy. And you contrast that with the models that are being looked at and developed right now by the payers really. And these tech . Entrance and, and consumer entrance into this. It's, it's Amazon and Walmart are really the non-payers that are coming into this, and I believe that the two of them will become payers if they're not already dabbling in it.

They'll become major payers as this goes on. And so what's the, so what again? For healthcare systems, it is. A comprehensive care anywhere, care at home strategy that is supported by digital tools. That makes it easier and a relentless pursuit of making it easier, a relentless pursuit of the consumer at the center.

I. Of every conversation that you're having, even if you're trying to support the old models, how do you make it easier for them to find parking? The the simple things? Yes. We want to get them their medical record and move their images around, and all that stuff's important and really should be just a foundational item for us.

We've been working on this for quite some time, but start thinking about the consumer. How do they experience it? I had a person that worked for me who actually struck a deal, just . Handshake deal with some patients who were coming into the, the hospital where he worked and he would meet them in the garage and he would follow them through their day.

And in that he would write notes and he would send me notes and he would say, look, it took him five minutes to find parking, and then he couldn't find his car. When he came out. He had trouble getting to his first appointment because he couldn't follow the signage in the hospital. That's the simple things that we should be doing.

But quite frankly, that should be a foundational already for us today, and we should be focused on the home. We should be focused on how do we keep people healthy, where they live, where they are at today. And that's supported by a set of digital tools and supported by data and supported by, uh, new logistics platforms that gets our health system into the community.

I. Into the places where people make health decisions, right. Interacting. We should be in our communities, interacting with the, uh, consumers, and consumers is such a harsh word, interacting with the people who desire health. And we have to figure out a way to make that happen. Our, our doctors should be in grocery stores.

We should be where people live, where they are making these decisions because we know. That healthcare only accounts for 20% of health and at the rest is social determinants and other things, and we've gotta figure out how to get outside of our four walls. Technology will enable that data will enable that, and that is really our charter.

I told you I would meander today. I didn't really have a lot of notes, so it, this really was off the top of my head, so if any of it doesn't make sense, feel free to shoot me a note Bill at this weekend, health it.com. If you know of someone that might benefit from our channel. Please forward them a note.

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