UnitedHealth unveils patient info service for MDs

February 14, 2012 By TOM MURPHY , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- UnitedHealth Group's Optum business is launching a service that allows doctors to share information about patients over the Internet, as health care companies continue their push to improve care with better coordination.

The system, known as cloud computing, involves storing information and software applications on remote servers that are accessed through a secure Internet connection.

In health care, this means a doctor does not have to go to a particular computer for patient information or care updates. He or she can use portable devices like smart phones or .

Optum's cloud provides a platform that health care providers can use for software that helps them track patients. For instance, a doctor can use cloud-based applications, or apps, to receive automatic updates on a hospitalized patient's condition or to be notified when a patient visits an emergency room or fails to fill prescriptions, a company spokesman said.

Currently, most doctors have to rely on patients to tell them when they visit another physician or the ER.

Cloud computing also can allow doctors to share and discuss a case more efficiently.

Optum worked with Cisco, IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. among others, to design the cloud and is launching a set of apps called Optum Care Suite to help providers use it. But it also is encouraging providers to design their own applications for the cloud as well.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., based in Minnetonka, Minn., is the largest U.S. . Its Optum business provides technology outsourcing, among other services.

Insurers and care providers have been more intent on improving care coordination. Last month, another insurer, WellPoint Inc., said it will boost primary care reimbursement by paying for care management it doesn't currently cover.

Some care providers also are forming accountable care organizations that coordinate care among doctors, specialists and hospitals.

Cloud computing platforms first started appearing in a few years ago, said Lisa Gallagher, senior director of privacy and security for the industry group Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, or HIMSS. She said about 30 percent of like hospitals or physician practices now use some form of cloud computing.

Experts say care coordination leads to better care for patients. It helps doctors catch prescriptions that may conflict or cause a bad reaction. It also cuts down on test duplications and can help people remember when to see the doctor or refill their prescriptions.

It also can lower costs by cutting wasteful spending.

Care coordination currently is left mostly to the patient or his or her family, said Dr. Ann O'Malley, a researcher with the Center for Studying Health System Change. She said that's a task best left to primary-care doctors.

"Right now, coordination is horrible in this country for the most part," she said.

Explore further: New report: Community health plans improving care for patients with chronic illnesses

shares

Related Stories

New report: Community health plans improving care for patients with chronic illnesses

November 30, 2011
Community health plans are partnering with physician practices to initiate a range of care management programs for people living with chronic diseases; these programs have resulted in decreased emergency room (ER) use, improved ...

Will minorities be left out of health care law provision?

April 26, 2011
Hospitals and physician practices that form care-coordinating networks called "Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)," under provisions of the new health-care law could reap cost-savings and other benefits. However, experts ...

Recommended for you

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.