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Jan
9

United HealthCare – marketing and managed care

Bill McGuire, MD, chairman and CEO of UnitedHealthGroup, was interviewed by the journal “Health Affairs” recently, including, amongst other topics, UHG’s work in the area of physician practice pattern variation, .
UHG’s approach seems to be to identify centers of excellence for (primarily inpatient) high dollar claims, such as transplants, cancer, orthopedics, etc, and to encourage employers to preferentialy utilize these centers. UHG’s philosophy is to present the information to the employer, and give the employer the option of encouraging the utilization of the preferred centers. The tools available to the employer include benefit design, network customization, and cost sharing.
Not noted in the conversation is any attempt by UHG to provide feedback to non-center of excellence physicians on their practice patterns, the outcomes thereof, and associated costs. Instead, UHG is identifying those providers, down to the surgical team level, that have the best outcomes, and promoting those providers.
Interestingly, McGuire does not promote the use of narrow networks of a few highly-credentialed physicians with best-in-class outcomes.
To quote McGuire;
“I’m not sure that narrow networks get significant savings. Primary care gatekeepers did not lower costs. If people want narrower networks for some reason, we are in a position to facilitate that. But, philosophically, our desire is to bring the overall level of care, by a broad population of care providers, to a higher standard


Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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