Health insurers are moving into the technology business of accountable care.
Muscling in on IT
Insurers see acquisitions as key to data-sharing
Three Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans and the health information technology company Lumeris Corp. announced plans last week to acquire NaviNet, a national communications network that connects physicians and other providers to health plans, for an undisclosed sum.
UnitedHealth’s health services division, Optum, announced last week its own investment in accountable care technology. Optum said it had launched a “cloud” system allowing caregivers to connect with patients’ other providers—capabilities that Optum promoted as “necessary for full participation in accountable care organizations and other emerging care models.”
Highmark in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey, Independence Blue Cross in southeast Pennsylvania and Lumeris said the acquisition of NaviNet will increase collaboration with physicians, hospitals and insurers. They also said the combination of the NaviNet and Lumeris technologies is expected to “ease the adoption of new accountable care models through the country.”
Douglas Blackwell, Horizon’s senior vice president and chief information officer, said the deal fits into the Horizon business model, which calls for moves into accountable care and different payment methodologies.
About a year and a half ago, Horizon launched a “healthcare innovations” subsidiary with a goal to “develop innovative collaborative models for the delivery and financing of high quality care in New Jersey,” the Newark-based company said in a news release at the time.
“We see this as another opportunity to have an integrated platform,” Blackwell said. “When you look at the geography of Highmark, Horizon and IBC, we’re geographically aligned and it’s going to make sense to do things collaboratively going forward.”
There are about 70,000 providers within the Highmark, Horizon and Independence service areas. However, the companies said the Lumeris accountable care delivery platform will be made available to the NaviNet network, which the company says has enrolled about 75% of the physicians in the U.S.
All three insurers previously invested in Boston-based NaviNet, Blackwell said, and the health plans’ corporate venture fund was one of several firms to invest last year in Essence Group Holdings Corp., the parent company for Lumeris. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Camden Partners invested
$70 million in the Essence Group in October. Lumeris said at that time that the majority of the investment was directed toward Lumeris and its accountable care delivery platform.
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