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UnitedHealth Group Shutting Down Optum Virtual Care Telehealth Business

UnitedHealth Group is shutting down its Optum Virtual Care telehealth business.

Employees were notified of the shutdown on Thursday (April 18), and some were told that their last day would be in July, Seeking Alpha reported Tuesday (April 24), citing a paywalled article by Endpoints News.

Reached for comment by PYMNTS, a UnitedHealth Group spokesperson provided an emailed statement saying that the company will support the affected team members with job placement resources and, wherever possible, deploy them in any open roles.

“Virtual care has been and will continue to be a core part of our comprehensive, integrated care delivery model designed to provide care to people where, when and how they prefer,” the statement said.

“As an enterprise, we are committed to providing patients with a robust network of providers for virtual urgent, primary and specialty care options,” the statement added. “We continually review the capabilities and services we offer to meet the growing and evolving needs of our businesses and the people we serve.”

Optum Virtual Care offers round-the-clock care via virtual visits with board-certified physicians and nationally certified nurse practitioners, according to a web page devoted to the offering. It is available in all 50 states.

PYMNTS Intelligence found in May 2022 that telehealth use was down at that point from the spike it saw in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, a growing number of people were returning to doctors’ offices after the pandemic.

By July, PYMNTS Intelligence found that consumer participation in telehealth had ranged between 30% and 40% from January 2022 to that time. That percentage of people were participating at least monthly in telemedicine appointments.

Another provider of telehealth services, Amwell, said in February that it saw telehealth usage dip in 2023. The hybrid care delivery enablement platform saw 1.6 million visits in the fourth quarter of 2023, down from 1.7 million in the same quarter in 2022.

The company attributed the decline to a milder flu season. Amwell Chief Financial Officer Robert Shepardson said during a Feb. 14 earnings call: “Last year’s early and severe flu season did not repeat this year.”