SSM Health, Optum to enhance inpatient, RCM & digital services in new 10-year collaboration
The collaboration will include the implementation and use of clinical technology to reduce care variation and co-develop an inpatient care delivery model that improves outcomes; RCM technology to streamline the billing experience for patients and providers; and digital technology to create a seamless patient journey.
“Through knowledge-sharing, advanced analytics and enhanced clinical and operational performance, we are looking to transform care both within our communities and across the nation,” said John Nguyen, chief strategy officer at St. Louis-based SSM Health, in an email. “Our ultimate goal is to build a sustainable, accessible and equitable healthcare system that exceeds the expectations of all those we serve.”
About 2,100 SSM Health employees across revenue cycle and hospital care management will become employees of Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Optum. But this doesn’t mean the health system is outsourcing services to Optum.
“While some of our revenue cycle team members will transition to Optum, this is only a small part of what we are doing together,” Nguyen said. “This is a new model for collaboration…We are focused on changing the trajectory of healthcare in this country, which requires a group effort and partners like Optum.”
The transition could have several benefits for the employees.
They “will have access to a wealth of additional tools, resources, training and professional development opportunities that Optum can provide as a large national employer,” said Ryan Mckeown, senior vice president of Optum Market Performance Partnerships, in an email.
In addition to collaborating on health services, UnitedHealth Group, Optum’s parent, and SSM Health will jointly invest millions of dollars in community health programs that serve the health system’s patient population.
The investments will be centered on programs that ensure vulnerable populations have equal access to quality care services within SSM Health’s markets.
“An area of early interest for us is behavioral health, which is a growing problem across the nation,” SSM Health’s Nguyen said. “As a leading behavioral health provider, SSM Health is motivated to find more ways to overcome the stigma of these conditions and help people achieve better management and treatment.”
The collaboration is the latest in a string of partnerships Optum has entered into with healthcare providers. In May, it partnered with Cooperstown, New York-based Bassett Healthcare Network, providing the health system with analytics capabilities, modernized revenue cycle processes and IT strategies.
Optum is also working with John Muir Health in Walnut Creek, California, and Boulder Community Health in Colorado.
Photo: metamorworks, Getty Images