UnitedHealth Group's Optum unit has launched a cloud platform to host applications in an open environment.
UnitedHealth Group's Optum
health services business has launched an
open-cloud platform to allow developers to create and host health care
The cloud offers a developer
toolkit with modules that allow doctors to maintain compliance with the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA
It also includes a toolkit for CIOs to enable deployment of internal and
external applications, as well as templates to build a master patient index.
A dashboard enables health
professionals to access patient information and various applications they use
on a daily basis to form their care plans for patients. They can access email,
text and video messages, as well as schedules and a health app marketplace.
"The dashboard provides
a user-friendly interface where users can manage their information, work, time
and the applications they use," Ted Hoy, senior vice president and general
manager of cloud platforms at Optum, wrote in an email to eWEEK.
The health care cloud could
also connect patients' applications with biometric monitors and the health
information systems of doctors, hospitals and health plans.
It also allows
caregivers to coordinate care with specialists and patients using secure text
and video chat capabilities. Doctors can use the messaging tools to send
notifications to care teams. These communication capabilities could allow
doctors, nurses and hospital administrators to meet government Accountable
Care Organization (ACO) guidelines
, in which doctors coordinate care and
are reimbursed for quality of care for Medicare patients, rather than being
paid per visit.
Optum's health cloud could
enable health care organizations to reduce some of the costs and time required
by creating apps and bringing them to market, said Hoy. The cloud could also
alleviate some of the compliance obstacles, he added.
care-specific capabilities allow companies to focus investment on incremental
value creation versus rebuilding the same compliance, again," said
The Optum health cloud uses
Cisco's networking and security, EMC enhanced Java and virtual machines,
IBM back-end data processing and business-intelligence applications, and
HP servers and analytics, Hoy noted.
In addition to the health
cloud, Optum also announced its Optum Care Suite Feb. 14. The Optum Care Suite
comprises applications that doctors and health professionals can use to run
analytics on patients and population health. The suite also includes
collaboration and automated reporting tools. It culls data from electronic
health records (EHRs) and genetics databases.
Optum Care Pathways allows
doctors using the Optum Care Suite to establish care plans involving multiple
providers, and Optum Care Coordination enables physician teams to track and
document patient care across settings and providers. Another application, Optum
Care Quality, brings together data from claims, clinical records and
patient-reported outcomes and compiles reports on quality and compliance.
Meanwhile, Optum Care Population
provides registries of people with various conditions and allows health
professionals to follow the health of specific populations of patients. Health
intelligence could give hospital administrators insight into potential spikes
in ER visits based on population health data for conditions such as asthma.
"Optum Care Suite
provides the user-friendly applications to deliver [health data] to end users
in graphical, intuitive formats that support their ability to make better
decisions," said Hoy.
In addition to Optum Care
Suite, the health care cloud also offers a Healthcare Scheduling Exchange (HSE)
, a portal for
health plans, hospitals, care management organizations and public agencies.
The HSE allows doctors'
offices to schedule appointments and provide referrals. Through the Optum
health care cloud, HSE can integrate with time-management applications used by
doctors and hospitals.
Optum will demonstrate the
cloud service at the HIMSS12 health care IT conference in Las Vegas, beginning
The company plans to release
a software development kit (SDK) for health care in the second quarter of 2012.