The new online site, myOptumHealth.com, is both an encyclopedia of health conditions and diseases, with a feel similar to WebMd.com, as well a PHR.
Consumers can store health records in what United Health says is a secure, central location. What’s more the site content as well as the PHR is free and open to anyone.
For now, Untied Health Group appears to be down playing the PHR aspects of the site. Instead, it is focusing on its content and on wellness coaching programs and incentive and communications services.
United is still outstripped by Aetna, Inc, according to the Wall Street Journal. That health-insurance giant has gone a step further than United Health by linking patients' personal information and claims data with a search engine to provide tailored information on medical conditions and treatments.
Ken Terry, former senior editor at Medical Economics Magazine, sums it all up this way:
"What’s fascinating about the United development is the possibility that in the future, either United or some other company will cross-breed the consumer health expertise of a WebMD or a Revolution Health with the health promotion and disease management savvy of an Aetna. Now that would be a real revolution."
What does it mean for corporate wellness programs? Make sure you're leveraging whatever self-management and health information tools your insurer makes available--either to support your own initiatives or as a way to make sure the motivated employees know what's available to them.