UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) released its 2022 sustainability report on Tuesday. The report examines the company’s advancement toward a host of long-term commitments, including broadening access to care and improved health outcomes.
The company’s strategic growth priorities and sustainability priorities are highlighted in various parts of the report.
“Our persistent commitment to sustainability serves as the foundation of our strategic growth priorities, designed to not just serve more people, but serve them better, more comprehensively and with higher-quality, more affordable care,” Patricia L. Lewis, chief sustainability officer at UnitedHealth Group, wrote in the report. “While we have plenty of work ahead of us, the progress we’ve made to date will form the bedrock for the future.”
In terms of building a modern, high-performing health system — one of UnitedHealth Group’s sustainability priorities — expanding in-home clinical care is an avenue to get there, according to company leaders
“We view home health as one of the new frontiers of value-based health care because it improves access while providing a more convenient experience for people, like special needs patients and those in rural areas who often have a very difficult time leaving their home to get care,” Kristy Duffey, chief nursing officer at Optum Health, and COO at Optum Home & Community Care, wrote in the report.
The company’s HouseCalls program – which connects seniors to social services, and offers in-home vaccines and screenings for under-diagnosed conditions – has been instrumental in helping individuals get diagnosed.
Last year, 670,000 people in low-income counties received an in-home clinical assessment, according to the report.
In fact, almost 1 in 4 people who were screened by one of the company’s HouseCalls clinicians last year discovered that they had a condition they weren’t previously aware of, such as diabetes, prediabetes, hepatitis C and colon cancer.
Overall, UnitedHealth Group provided 2.2 million in-home health assessments to seniors last year.
Accelerating the transition to value-based care is also a major component of UnitedHealth Group’s plan to build a modern, high-performing health system.
Specifically, the company made a commitment to close 600 million gaps in care for its members by the end of 2025.
“Gaps in care occur when there is a discrepancy between clinically recommended care and the actual care delivered,” UnitedHealth Group wrote in the report.
Some common care gaps are missed wellness visits, vaccinations or screenings, and medication non-adherence.
Last year, the company closed 141 million gaps in care, and has closed 251 million gaps in care since making its commitment in 2021.
“We are working to close gaps in care through in-home assessments delivered to older adults through our HouseCalls program, value-based payment models helping to deliver timely, high-quality care, and care coordination models providing patients with complex illnesses with a single point of contact to help navigate the health system,” UnitedHealth Group wrote.
In recent years, UnitedHealth Group has made a number of moves to cement itself in the home-based care space.
UnitedHealth Group’s Optum acquired Landmark in 2021. It acquired home-based care provider Prospero Health in early 2023. In March, it was revealed that Prospero Health was to merge with Landmark Health under the Optum umbrella.
At the start of 2023, Optum acquired LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG) in a $5.4 billion transaction.
More recently, Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) disclosed that UnitedHealth Group’s Optum submitted an acquisition bid for it. If the acquisition eventually happens, Optum will control two home health giants in Amedisys and LHC Group.