Virginia Mason, Northern Light and Owensboro Health — 3 systems partnering with Optum

UnitedHealth Group's Optum, now with 70,000 employed or aligned physicians across the U.S., is continuing its impressive growth trajectory across various areas of healthcare. 

While some health systems are partnering with Optum to expand their network and strengthen value-based care initiatives, others aim to leverage the company's size and scale of a partner like Optum to alleviate some of their financial or staffing pressures. 

Here are three health systems that partnered with Optum in the last six months: 

1. Tacoma, Wash.-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health has partnered with UnitedHealth Group's Optum Washington, with Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle operating as the physician group's primary acute-care referral center. Optum Polyclinic, a 200-physician group, will refer patients who need inpatient treatment to VMMC. Physicians at Virginia Mason and Optum will also collaborate to coordinate care and provide in-network continuity for Optum patients and co-manage Virginia Mason's 25,000 Medicare Advantage patients.

2. Optum agreed to take over Owensboro (Ky.) Health's revenue cycle management and information technology operations, resulting in 575 of the health system's employees moving to Optum in April. As part of the partnership, Optum and Owensboro will create a virtual Center of Excellence contact center training program to recruit, train and employ a regional workforce of talent to support health systems across the country. The jobs will offer competitive wages and promote career growth in Owensboro and western Kentucky.

3. In January, Brewer, Maine-based Northern Light Health transferred 1,400 of its office-based employees to Optum. The employees included those in revenue cycle management, information systems, inpatient care management, analytics, project management and supply chain roles. They kept their jobs, but are now employees of Optum rather than Northern Light Health. Their pay and benefits were not cut, and they did not have to transfer out of Maine. Northern Light expects to save $1 billion over 10 years by outsourcing billing and support operations to Optum.

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