How Innovation Drives Health Care

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How Innovation Drives Health Care

Friday, April 20, 2018

At UnitedHealth Group, the technology and innovation we invent is in service of a future where health care serves everyone more fairly, productively and consistently. We put a series of questions to Pat Keran, Senior Director at Optum, to explain what innovation means for his team, UnitedHealth Group and health care globally.

How does UnitedHealth Group support innovative thinking?

Innovation is a part of our five corporate values, meaning that innovation is part of the corporate employee DNA by which we live every day.  Support of innovation comes from the top, from senior executives to grass roots efforts by employees.  Innovative thinking is encouraged throughout the organization as a driver to change the way we help each INDIVIDUAL we serve.

If we can change a process or implement a new technology to drive better engagement and outcomes, then that is how we continue to deliver value to the health care system.  Everything we do is fueled by innovation.

What UnitedHealth Group innovations are you most proud of having contributed to here?

Being part of the Optum Technology Innovation team, I get to work on new ideas all the time.  There is not one innovation that I would pinpoint, but rather multiple in the works that I believe can change the way we deliver care to people.

Some examples include: advance telemedicine in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy and in the behavioral areas; condition management in how we can use wearables to enhance the way people can monitor their conditions (i.e. Type II diabetes) to proactively prevent issues; and the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Genomics.

Why is innovation important in the global health care industry?

Regardless of who you are and where you live, we are all human and have the same health needs.  Opioid epidemic is global. Type II diabetes is global.  Congestive Heart Failure is global.  The members we serve are global. Basically, innovations that we drive need to go beyond borders and serve all.

This is easier said than done as health care is complex made more complex by culture, politics, technology, accessibility, etc. globally.  This is why we need to evaluate the needs of the local areas and drive innovation locally that will serve those we serve appropriately.

What happens when a new idea fails?

Don’t fall in love with the solution. If the solution does not work, fail as quick as you can, capture lessons learned, and move on.  There is no shame in failure if you were trying in earnest to solve a problem.

In what ways can you innovate outside of technology fields?

You are talking to a geek - everything is solved by technology (ha)!  Actually, innovation can happen everywhere; such as creating a new way to better drive the supply chain in delivering medications; providing better member/patient engagements with Physicians by adding in simple behavioral checks (since many times there are behavioral needs with chronic conditions); etc.

For more information about Innovation at UnitedHealth Group, please visit:


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