At a virtual event on the future of health care hosted by Axios, UnitedHealth Group’s Dr. Deneen Vojta discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined consumers’ expectations with the health care system and how the company is responding to meet those needs.
Vojta, who is chief physician executive for OptumLabs and executive vice president of Research & Development at UnitedHealth Group, highlighted opportunities to enhance the health care experience, sharing lessons learned from the past year.
She noted that the pandemic impacted consumers immensely, particularly on how care is delivered, where care is delivered and how they define care.
With the onset of the pandemic, the use of telehealth began to increase and as the need continued, UnitedHealth Group modified our policies and worked with the provider community to make it happen, Dr. Vojta said. Recognizing that not everything can be done using technology or remotely, she highlighted Optum’s HouseCalls program, which enables advanced care practitioners to deliver care in the home and meet patients’ health care and social needs.
Dr. Vojta offered solutions to enhancing the health care experience as policymakers consider ways to modernize the health care system through regulation and legislation. Starting with providers, she stated we must make it easier for providers to do their job by streamlining and standardizing quality reporting by establishing a single, national set of evidence-based care measures. On the patient side, we have to continue to offer financial/benefit incentives, digital assets and resources to allow consumers to manage their own care. For example, UnitedHealthcare’s Level2 program provides a continuous glucose monitor and support to help improve the health of people living with Type 2 diabetes.
Opportunities for improvement in the health care system have emerged from the pandemic, particularly in addressing disparities in care. “Going forward, we will see a relentless focus to improving in this area,” Dr. Vojta said. She adds that we can do so by thinking about our data insights and understanding why there are such disparities in care, and training a health workforce that reflects today’s society, noting UnitedHealth Group has been investing in clinical scholar programs to help fund a diverse workforce in the direct delivery of care.