UnitedHealthcare Experience Illustrates How Payers Can Enable Patient Engagement
Author: Lewis G. Sandy, Reed V. Tuckson, Simon L. Stevens
Patient engagement is crucial to better outcomes and a high-performing health system, but efforts to support it often focus narrowly on the role of physicians and other care providers. Such efforts miss payers’ unique capabilities to help patients achieve better health. Using the experience of UnitedHealthcare, a large national payer, this article demonstrates how health plans can analyze and present information to both patients and providers to help close gaps in care; share detailed quality and cost information to inform patients’ choice of providers; and offer treatment decision support and value-based benefit designs to help guide choices of diagnostic tests and therapies. As an employer, UnitedHealth Group has used these strategies along with an “earn-back” program that provides positive financial incentives through reduced premiums to employees who adopt healthful habits. UnitedHealth’s experience provides lessons for other payers and for Medicare and Medicaid, which have had minimal involvement with demand-side strategies and could benefit from efforts to promote activated beneficiaries.