Optum Institute Launches; Will Provide Analysis and Insight on Rapidly Changing Health Care Landscape

November 15, 2011
  • New data, research and stakeholder collaborations to stimulate long-term improvements in the quality and affordability of care
  • New Optum Institute survey conducted by Harris Interactive lays out challenges and opportunities, as reported by physicians, hospitals and consumers
  • Survey findings point to seven areas of opportunity to make health care more sustainable

Optum today launched The Optum Institute for Sustainable Health (The Optum Institute), which will leverage the company’s broad health care experience and research capabilities to provide analysis and insight on the rapidly changing health care landscape.

The Optum Institute will also initiate and support community-based forums, executive education programs and public policy debates, working closely with hospitals, clinicians, employers, government and community leaders. It expects to form partnerships with organizations and associations that share The Optum Institute’s mission – to help the health care system work better and improve health care delivery in the United States. These programs will help enable organizations to successfully create Sustainable Health Communities – clinically integrated, financially viable health systems that increase the quality of care, improve patient experience and lower overall health care costs.

The Optum Institute draws on expertise from health care leaders, medical experts and government analysts from the Optum businesses – OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx – who today touch more than 6,000 hospital clients, nearly 250,000 health care professionals/groups, and other stakeholders including health plans, life sciences companies and government agencies, as well as a range of external experts and researchers. The Optum Institute will be chaired by Simon Stevens, and directed by Carol Simon.

“There is wide national agreement that the U.S. health care system – despite its many strengths – can and must do better to improve the health of the nation and enhance the quality and affordability of care,” said Simon Stevens, chairman of The Optum Institute. “The Optum Institute’s mission is to help make sense of the complex changes that will be required to do this, and to help partner with local communities as they modernize their own health care systems.”

New Optum Institute national opinion survey: Seven opportunities to make health care more sustainable
In its first research study, The Optum Institute is publishing new findings drawing on a major new national opinion survey conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive on quality of care, accountable care, and what it will take to move to high-perfoming local health care communities.

The national survey (“Sustainable Health Communities – A Manifesto for Improvement”), released today, reflects the opinions of physicians, hospitals and U.S. adults (N=3,400). The study clearly points to seven major areas of opportunity for making the American health care system work better for everyone. Key findings include:

1. The Health Challenge: U.S. adults believe that patients always or often receive needed preventive health care only a third (33 percent) of the time, and doctors think this is true only half (50 percent) of the time.

2. The Quality Challenge: Nearly two thirds of physicians (64 percent) say that there are “significant differences in the quality of care provided by doctors” in their local area.

3. The Cost Challenge: U.S. adults believe that health care costs in their community could be cut by between a quarter and a third (29 percent) - without having a negative impact on quality. Looking to the future, only a quarter of physicians (26 percent), around a third of U.S. adults (38 percent) and half of hospitals (50 percent) believe that – absent new action – their local health community is on course to becoming more sustainable.

4. The Care Coordination Opportunity: U.S. adults, Doctors and Hospitals do not feel that the healthcare delivered in their community is coordinated. 16 percent, 9 percent, and 16 percent respectively describe it as extremely or very coordinated.

5. The Technology Opportunity: 90 percent of physicians say they expect to be using electronic medical record (EMR) systems within 2-3 years, up from 55 percent today. But fewer than half (47 percent) of those EMRs allow doctors to share their patients’ medical records electronically with hospitals. And only a third (35 percent) of physicians report having a computerized system in place to track patients with chronic conditions and ensure appropriate monitoring and follow-up care.

6. The Incentive Alignment Opportunity: Over the coming decade, a third (35 percent) of doctors expect that between 10 percent and 25 percent of provider reimbursement will be tied to performance, and a further fifth (22 percent) of doctors think that the proportion at risk will be in excess of a quarter of reimbursement. Half (49 percent) of physicians say they currently feel “not at all prepared” to accept greater financial risk for managing patient care. Hospitals similarly expect a major move to performance-based reimbursement, with 40 percent of hospital respondents expecting that more than a quarter of revenues will be at risk for the quality and/or efficiency of care delivery.

7. The Information Transparency Opportunity: Nearly two thirds of doctors (64 percent) report knowing that there is significant variation in the quality of local patient care, while less than half (47 percent) of U.S. adults are aware that such variations exist. Additionally, less than half (46 percent) of physicians report having EMR system that can provide patients with easy access to their medical records.

To view additional findings from The Optum Institute research, visit The Optum Institute web site.

“These striking findings clearly indicate that much more needs to be done to engage patients in their own health, as well as the need to better integrate care through shared information, aligned incentives, and supporting infrastructures,” said Carol Simon, director of The Optum Institute. “Going forward, our research and analysis will aim to provide important insights into the critical unanswered questions all health care stakeholders will need to address in order to build more sustainable health care systems.”

This survey was conducted online within the United Stated by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Optum Institute between October 19-28, 2011 among U.S. Physicians (N=1,000), U.S. adults (N=2,000) and U.S. Hospital executives (N=400) regarding healthcare cost, quality, and sustainability in their communities. For full methodology including weighting variables please contact Carol Simon at

Partnerships for Advocacy
In addition to such research initiatives, The Optum Institute will also be working to establish key partnerships with major foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), researchers and practitioners who are developing innovations in health care delivery and management.

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About The Optum Institute
The Optum Institute for Sustainable Health ( is dedicated to providing insight and guidance on the rapidly-changing health care landscape and evolution toward accountable care. Working closely with hospitals, clinicians, employers, government and community leaders, The Optum Institute initiates and supports industry research, community-based forums, executive education programs, public policy debates and key partnerships to foster Sustainable Health Communities – fully-integrated, financially viable health systems that increase the quality of care, improve patient experience and lower overall health care costs.

About Optum
Optum ( is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. Optum comprises three companies – OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx – representing over 30,000 employees worldwide who collaborate to deliver integrated, intelligent solutions that work to modernize the health system and improve overall population health.