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ARTICLE Cleveland's University Hospitals, UnitedHealthcare Collaborate to Improve Health Care Quality, Reduce Costs in Northern Ohio


CLEVELAND (Dec. 19, 2013) – University Hospitals (UH) and UnitedHealthcare have announced a collaboration to provide coordinated health care that improves quality and reduces costs for Northern Ohio residents enrolled in UnitedHealthcare's employer-sponsored health plans.

The new accountable care organization (ACO) model, which will launch Feb. 1, will help shift the Ohio health care system from one based on volume of care to one that rewards quality and value. Under the collaboration, University Hospitals and its affiliated physicians will manage all aspects of patients' care, providing the right care in the right place at the right time. This will be University Hospitals' fifth ACO program and UnitedHealthcare's second in Ohio.

"University Hospitals is pleased to join with UnitedHealthcare on an ACO that will enhance health services and improve coordination of care for patients," said Eric Bieber, M.D., University Hospitals' chief medical officer and president of its Accountable Care Organization. "We have had great success in improving wellness and managing costs for the more than 170,000 people in our current ACOs and look forward to expanding to include participants in UnitedHealthcare's employer-sponsored health plans."

"University Hospitals is a national leader in accountable care, and its experience with ACOs that coordinate quality care is rooted in knowing what's best for each patient's health care needs," said Robert Falkenberg, president and CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Ohio. "Our ACO partnership will enhance the quality and efficiency of care in this community through improved delivery of health care services."

The new ACO collaboration will help University Hospitals' primary care physicians, hospitals and home health care providers improve transitions of care for patients and facilitate better communication with all those involved in a patient's treatment. Primary care physicians in the ACO will receive regular updates on their patients, enabling them to monitor all of the care each patient is receiving, and to maintain all clinical information about each patient in a secure patient registry. Nearly 19,000 UnitedHealthcare plan participants who currently receive care from University Hospitals care providers will not have to do anything differently to receive ACO benefits, which include enhanced care coordination and follow-up.

With 170,000 individual patients, University Hospitals' pediatric, employee and Medicare ACOs represent one of the largest ACO initiatives in the United States, fostering long-term patient-care provider relationships that help promote preventive care, increase wellness and healthy behaviors, decrease emergency episodes and prevent hospitalizations. University Hospitals' ACO models coordinate patient care in a manner that increases the quality of care received, promotes health and wellness, improves the patient experience and reduces overall health care costs.

UnitedHealthcare, which serves more than 1.7 million Ohioans with a care provider network of more than 200 hospitals and 30,400 physicians statewide, is working with thousands of physician groups, hospitals, medical centers and other health care providers nationwide to place greater emphasis on rewarding care providers for better care, better health and lower costs.

"UnitedHealthcare seeks to improve the quality and efficiency of health care in line with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 'Triple Aim' – better care and better health at lower cost," said Falkenberg. "This collaboration with University Hospitals continues to build on our longstanding commitment to help people in Ohio live healthier lives."

This is UnitedHealthcare's 15th accountable care collaboration in the United States. More than $27 billion of UnitedHealthcare's annual physician and hospital reimbursements are tied to accountable care programs, centers of excellence and other performance-based programs. The company recently announced it expects to grow its industry-leading accountable care contracts to $65 billion by 2018.

About University Hospitals

University Hospitals, the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians in 16 counties. At the core of our health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, one of only 18 hospitals in the country to have been named to U.S. News & World Report's most exclusive rankings list: the Best Hospitals 2013-14 Honor Roll. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. UH Case Medical Center is the 2012 recipient of the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize for its leadership and innovation in quality improvement and safety.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and other health care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.