University of California and UnitedHealth Group to Collaborate, Work Strategically to Improve Health Care

September 29, 2016
  • Organizations to jointly leverage their distinctive resources and unique capabilities to advance health outcomes and patient care
  • Early initiatives to include new OptumLabs data-driven research and discovery center, a focus on stimulating health care innovation at Silicon Valley companies, and training the next generation of data scientists
  • Organizations to develop new ACO and clinically integrated care networks to improve care for patients and plan sponsors

The University of California and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) are establishing an innovative model for a collaborative approach to health care that will improve patient care for Californians.

The 10-year strategic relationship will help transition California to a value-based health care system while leveraging the expertise of each organization to examine broader trends in care delivery.

UC Health and UnitedHealth Group's Optum and UnitedHealthcare businesses will promote advancements in clinical research and collectively design patient-centered, clinically integrated care provider networks, with a goal of transforming the state's health care delivery system. UC Health's five academic medical centers will expand use of Optum's clinically integrated network services and advanced data analytics services.

As a cornerstone of the new strategic relationship, UC Health will become the first West Coast health care provider to partner with OptumLabs, an open, collaborative center for research and innovation focused on improving patient care and value. Founded jointly by Optum and Mayo Clinic in 2013, OptumLabs is opening a San Francisco Bay Area facility mirroring its innovative headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., to accelerate collaboration among UC Health and other constituents in the region.

In addition, UnitedHealthcare will donate $1 million to UC Health to support programs that develop the next generation of health care data scientists and to research projects that study global health issues.

"This collaboration aligns with UC Health's overall strategy to partner with other health care stakeholders to deliver cost-effective, higher-quality health care," said John D. Stobo, M.D., UC Health executive vice president. "Health care is changing rapidly, and this relationship will help us stay on the leading edge to improve the health of Californians."

OptumLabs will provide UC Health researchers with access to the largest database of de-identified, linked clinical and administrative claims information in the country, providing real-world insights that can help accelerate improvements in patient care. Together they will examine opportunities to leverage new sources of data to incorporate the patient perspective into research and discovery efforts.

UC Health and OptumLabs will collaborate with other like-minded organizations and recruit tech companies to push the boundaries of health care and innovation in the Silicon Valley area.

OptumLabs will also sponsor a five-year internship program to help train the next generation of health care data scientists. OptumLabs and the University of California system will provide students access to expertise and the opportunity to work at one of the five UC Health systems.

"UC Health has a long history of innovation and collaboration, driving improvements in care that have benefited not only Californians but the health system at large," said Paul Bleicher, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of OptumLabs. "We look forward to extending our research and innovation capabilities to the West Coast in collaboration with UC Health and UnitedHealthcare."

As part of the collaboration, UC Health and UnitedHealthcare will create an Accountable Care Organization for large self-funded employer groups, with a primary care physician serving as a trusted adviser to each patient. UnitedHealthcare and Optum will work closely with UC Health physicians to seamlessly coordinate care, improving quality, cost-effectiveness and the overall patient experience.

In addition, the organizations will collectively design clinically integrated care provider networks to improve the patient experience and promote advancements in clinical care. Clinically integrated networks can improve care for high-risk patients while expanding access for everyone by using data to manage barriers to care, improve same-day access, identify risks to patient health and close gaps in care. These networks help create more affordable and modernized health insurance products for consumers.

"We are honored to be selected by the University of California to help implement this unique program that will integrate value-based care and the study of best clinical practices in California," said Robert Falkenberg, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of California. "This collaboration combines UnitedHealthcare's care provider network and UC Health with Optum's capabilities to advance patient care into a national model for integration."

The new strategic relationship will also expand UnitedHealthcare's current care provider networks. UC Health medical centers and physicians from UC Davis and UC San Diego will serve UnitedHealthcare Medi-Cal patients and join the Alliance HMO network.

UC Health operates five medical centers (UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF), which rank among the best hospitals in the nation. The University of California has the nation's largest health sciences instructional program, with 17 health professional schools in seven fields spanning seven campuses.

Optum, which focuses on modernizing the health system's infrastructure and advancing care, has more than 8,000 employees in the state.

UnitedHealthcare serves more than 3.5 million people in California with a network of 360 hospitals and approximately 100,000 physicians and other care providers statewide.

About UC Health

UC Health comprises the University of California's clinical and health professional education arms. UC Health combines the strength of UC's patient care, teaching and research. UC has the nation's largest health sciences instructional program with more than 14,000 students, while its five medical centers and associated medical groups form an $11.7 billion enterprise providing broad access to world-class, specialized care.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.