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Clinical Chimera: OptumInsight

May 26, 2011
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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This HIT Company is Trying to be Everything to Everyone, But Can it Pull it Off?
Andy Slavitt
Andy Slavitt

It's been a busy year for OptumInsight (Eden Prairie, Minn.), aka Ingenix; not only did the company embark on a brand restructuring, it acquired several high profile companies, and continued to make controversial inroads into the provider IT market. All these activities fit into the company's strategy of being a one-stop shop for healthcare organizations to collect, understand, and exchange clinical data.

OptumInsight, a health information and analytics, technology, services, and consulting company, got its start in 1997 when UnitedHealth Group saw the market need for healthcare organizations to hone the data that they were just beginning to capture through electronic records. After being in the top quartile of the HCI 100 compendium for the past several years and nabbing the #17 spot this year with HIT revenues of $460 million for 2010, OptumInsight is poised to be on par with industry heavyweights like The Trizetto Group (Greenwood Village, Colo.) and Wolters Kluwer Health (Philadelphia).

OPTUMINSIGHT'S STRATEGY IS FUNDAMENTALLY ABOUT HELPING PHYSICIANS AND MEDICAL CARE PROVIDERS TO PROVIDE BETTER CARE FOR THEIR PATIENTS. THIS IS A STRATEGY THAT PRE-DATES ANY OF THE PROVISIONS OF HEALTH REFORM LEGISLATION. -ANDY SLAVITT

ACQUIRING CORE COMPETENCIES

In one month, August 2010, OptumInsight acquired high-acuity care solution provider Picis (Wakefield, Mass.), compliance solution provider Executive Health Resources (Newtown Square, Pa.), and HIE vendor Axolotl (San Jose, Calif.)-three very different companies that serve OptumInsight's goals in diverse ways. “There are companies that are very good with workflows and EMRs; there are companies that are all about connectivity; and there are companies that are about data,” says Andy Slavitt, OptumInsight's CEO. “What makes us interesting is that I think if you focus on any one of those things alone, but not the other two, you may solve part of a problem but you actually create problems in other areas.” Slavitt notes his company took an approach that says, “let's figure out the core competencies necessary to help all these people serve patients better.”

Ben Rooks, founder of ST Advisors, LLC, a health IT advisory and consulting firm, has a shrewder idea about OptumInsight's acquisitions. He posits that among other motivators like actual patient care improvement, UnitedHealth Group, OptumInsight's parent company, is using its Axolotl and Picis acquisitions to improve its medical loss ratio [which under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) mandates insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their collected premiums on medical care].

Bill Miller, president of provider markets of OptumInsight, says his company was just adding core competencies to its portfolio. “As Andy and I surveyed the field and our own portfolio, and because of the volatile environment that most providers found themselves in, there were some decisions we made that acquisitions were the right fit and the good news about all of those, we've been right. The market has rewarded us,” he says.

Slavitt adds: “OptumInsight's strategy is fundamentally about helping physicians and medical care providers to provide better care for their patients. This is a strategy that pre-dates any of the provisions of health reform legislation.”

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