John Muir Health Partners with Optum, Hopes to Remain Independent

July 18, 2019
Optum will manage the hospital system’s revenue cycle management and analytics functions

The Northern California-based John Muir Health and Optum are engaging in a new relationship in which Optum will manage key non-clinical functions for the health system, including IT, revenue cycle management, analytics, purchasing and claims processing.

The core goal is to help John Muir—which includes a network of more than 1,000 primary care and specialty physicians with additional medical centers, a trauma center, and a behavioral health center—remain independent, according to officials. Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, will also support and further enhance John Muir’s physician network ambulatory care coordination and utilization management services, a press release from both organizations stated.

“Optum’s expertise and capabilities will help us expand upon the high-quality patient care we provide to the Bay Area community,” Cal Knight, president and CEO of John Muir Health said in a statement. “We share common values with Optum, and this new relationship will help us further deliver on our mission to improve the health of the people we serve. We are committed to remaining independent while embracing partnerships that help us grow, and serve more patients.”

In a CNBC story on the announcement, Chris Pass, John Muir’s chief financial officer, said that the system doesn’t have plans to get acquired or sell to a larger system, thus spurring this collaboration. “We know we need to get ourselves to a lower cost both for employers and employees. We think this is one of the best options we have to do that,” Pass said to CNBC.

Through this new relationship, Optum and John Muir will aim to work together to increase the efficiency of administrative operations by using technology solutions to reduce administrative workload and enable John Muir Health to maintain its focus on patient care, while also accelerating the provider organization’s ability to deliver quality care and lower care delivery costs, officials noted.

And, by using Optum’s clinical technologies and analytic tools, more data-driven insights could be brought to care providers and patients at the point of care, they added.

Overall, expected benefits include more fully engaging consumers in their health, identifying chronic conditions sooner and reducing overall care delivery costs, officials contended.

As part of this relationship, approximately 540 John Muir Health employees will become Optum employees.

“John Muir Health is one of the most progressive and well respected health systems in the country, and we are honored by this opportunity to help advance its patient-centered mission and growth,” said Eric Murphy, CEO of OptumInsight. “This first-of-its-kind, comprehensive relationship brings the exceptional skills and knowledge of the John Muir Health team together with Optum’s advanced technologies, analytic tools and operational expertise to deliver better health outcomes and patient experiences while reducing the total cost of care.”