New Optum Institute identifies areas of opportunity to improve healthcare

Optum, an Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based health IT service provider, has announced the launch of the Optum Institute for Sustainable Health to provide insight and guidance on the complex and evolving healthcare landscape in the U.S.

The institute will work with hospitals, clinicians, employers, government and community leaders to support research, programs, partnerships and public policy debates in order to build coordinated and cost-effective health delivery systems, Optum said in a news release.

It will draw on medical experts and healthcare leaders from the Optum business — a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group — to “help make sense of the complex changes” needed to improve the nation’s health and enhance the quality and affordability of care, said Chairman Simon Stevens in a statement.

In its first research study, the institute published a report on seven major areas of opportunity to improve the quality and accountability of healthcare to make it more sustainable, based on a survey of 3,400 physicians, hospital executives and adults. The report identified these areas of opportunity for improvement:

  • Access to preventive healthcare. In the survey, doctors said patients receive the necessary preventive care only half of the time.
  • Reliable quality of care. Two-thirds of physicians said there are significant differences in the quality of care provided by different doctors in their area.
  • Reasonable costs. Only one-quarter of adults surveyed believed their local health communities were becoming more sustainable.
  • Coordinated care. Only 1 in 6 U.S. adults and hospital executives reported that their healthcare was extremely or very coordinated.
  • Sharing of EMRs. 90 percent of physician respondents said they expected to use electronic medical records within two to three years, but only one-third of them reported having a system in place to track patients with chronic conditions.
  • Performance-based reimbursement. Half of physicians felt unprepared to accept greater financial risk for managing patient care.
  • Information transparency. Less than half of doctors report having an EMR system that allows patients easy access to their medical records.

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