Optum Defies Post-COVID Slowdown As Digital Basket Of Services Buoys UnitedHealth Results

Optum headquarters

Call it healthcare’s digital version of necessity as the mother of invention.

At first glance it may seem like no surprise that Optum, the platform that offers tech-enabled service for UnitedHealth Group, would help drive results at the insurance giant that has over 70 million members.

After all, Optum’s full suite of services and prescription offerings has been a major COVID-era beneficiary of patients’ tendency to stay closer to home.

Officially, Optum’s revenue rose 17 percent to $38.3 billion, accounting for more than half of UnitedHealth’s total sales of $71 billion for the three months ending June 30, according to the firm’s Thursday (July 15) earnings release.

Drilling down into the metrics, the company said OptumHealth served 99 million people at the end of second quarter 2021 compared to 97 million a year ago, even though most doctors’ offices have reopened, with revenue per served consumer increasing 43 percent year over year.

OptumInsight, which provides analytics, technology and consulting services to help healthcare providers and systems improve performance, saw its revenue backlog increase by $1.9 billion or 10 percent to $21.3 billion. We note that a healthy backlog tends to denote good revenue visibility.

Scrips Grow, Too 

OptumRx adjusted scripts in the quarter were 342 million, with growth of 8 percent compared to last year, and, notably, up 4 percent from the first quarter of this year. Individuals and families are revisiting their healthcare needs and addressing issues that might have been deferred (or ignored) during the pandemic.

As to the pivot online, during the conference call with analysts, Dirk McMahon, president and chief operating officer of UnitedHealth Group, said, “OptumHealth behavioral platform has delivered over 500,000 virtual visits, an option we initiated in just the last year.” And he noted, too, that the patient satisfaction rate on the online channel is 98 percent.

UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty said of Optum that the unit expects to add more than 10,000 providers through this year and “we are halfway through that journey.” Elsewhere, he noted, “you’re really starting to see OptumHealth broadly, and within that business in particular OptumCare and, of course, home and community really starting to demonstrate their capacity for growth because of the scale of the footprint that they now establish across the country.”

With a nod toward OptumVirtual, which provides telehealth, Dr. Wyatt Decker, who serves as CEO of OptumHealth, said, “We are bringing together the virtual care experience that we stood up rapidly during the pandemic with over 18,000 providers onto … a next generation technical solution that we’ve created, which creates the opportunity to seamlessly onboard and triage an individual virtually. So, we make sure they’re getting the right care in the right environment, whether that’s a virtual, physical or behavioral healthcare need.”