Why Optum, SSM Health cut ties

St. Louis-based SSM Health and UnitedHealth Group's Optum ended their administrative partnership around inpatient care management, digital transformation and revenue cycle management after the two organizations were not able to meet "mutually agreed-upon expectations."

In an Aug. 21 internal memo shared with Becker's, SSM President and CEO Laura Kaiser told the system's hospital care management and RCM teams that the termination was a difficult decision but was "in the best interest of our patients, families and team members." 

The partnership was announced in October 2021 and formally began in early 2022. The deal included the hiring of about 2,100 SSM employees by Optum.

"We will be working quickly over the next few months to bring our hospital care management and revenue cycle management teams and services back to SSM Health," Ms. Kaiser wrote. "Our hope is to make this process as smooth and as seamless as possible." 

She said the health system would extend employment offers to Optum employees supporting SSM Health ministries. 

"I want to acknowledge and apologize for any disruption this transition may cause. Thank you for your patience and continued dedication," Ms. Kaiser wrote. "I am deeply grateful for all you do on behalf of our mission and those we serve together."

Hospitals and health systems that have previously outsourced administrative functions to Optum include Minneapolis-based Allina Health; Waukesha, Wis.-based ProHealth Care; Cooperstown, N.Y.-based Bassett Healthcare Network; Greenbrae, Calif.-based MarinHealth; Boulder (Colo.) Community Health; Walnut Creek, Calif.-based John Muir Health; Brewer, Maine-based Northern Light Health; and Owensboro (Ky.) Health.

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