Optum aims to help John Muir Health System thrive in Bay Area

UnitedHealth Group's Optum is partnering with John Muir Health to help the system remain independent and become more competitive in California, according to CNBC.

"Optum's expertise and capabilities will help us expand upon the high-quality patient care we provide to the Bay Area community," Cal Knight, president and CEO of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based John Muir Health, said in a news release. "We share common values with Optum, and this new relationship will help us further deliver on our mission to improve the health of the people we serve. We are committed to remaining independent while embracing partnerships that help us grow and serve more patients."

Optum, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., will take over John Muir's information technology, revenue cycle management, analytics, purchasing, claims processing and other nonclinical functions. Optum and John Muir representatives said Optum will also be involved in John Muir's physician network ambulatory care coordination and utilization management services.

Optum will hire about 540 John Muir employees as part of the partnership.

Optum, which offers various technologies and analytic tools, told CNBC the partnership provides a model under which it can help small, struggling hospitals remain independent.

Nick Howell, Optum senior vice president, told the TV business news channel: "Optum is not in the business of owning and operating health systems. We see this kind of partnership as a model. A lot of health systems out there are facing similar cost pressures and  are trying to find ways to remain independent. We believe this is a new third option for them."

Optum has been a big contributor to revenue growth for UnitedHealth. It also has emerged as a competitor for some hospitals as it expands its physician workforce.



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