Two Minnesota health-care giants, Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group, are joining forces to bring thousands of new patients to Rochester and other Mayo sites for treatment.
The Eden Prairie-based insurance provider UnitedHealth announced today it will recommend that patients with certain conditions travel to Mayo Clinic for care, through UnitedHealth's Optum Centers of Excellence Program.
Companies can sign up for coverage under the Centers of Excellence through UnitedHealth or directly through Optum. That means referring patients to designated sites, such as Mayo Clinic's campuses in Rochester, Florida and Arizona, for treatment. Participating in the program may include some coverage of travel and lodging costs.
Mayo Clinic has been listed by Optum as a Center for Excellence for organ transplants for 11 years. Optum says it makes more than 14,000 transplant referrals a year. Neither group said how many Optum organ transplant referrals come to Mayo Clinic each year.
Today's announcement adds the three Mayo Clinic locations to the list of preferred sites for treatment of cancer, heart failure, congenital heart disease, infertility and bariatric surgery.
“This expanded relationship with Mayo Clinic provides patients in participating health plans from around the country with greater access to clinically superior, cost-effective health care,” stated Mike Weissel of Optum Consumer Solutions in today's announcement.
Neither Mayo Clinic nor UnitedHealth released any estimates on how many more patients this might bring to Mayo Clinic or how much money it might bring in for Mayo Clinic. However, it clearly could be a great boon for the medical center and communities such as Rochester.
All of the new conditions added to list are major medical treatments. A look at just bariatric surgery shows the potential for growth.
Mayo Clinic reports it performs more than 300 bariatric surgeries a year in Rochester. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery estimated a total of 179,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. in 2013.
Both Mayo and Optum stressed how this new relationship will benefit patients by providing "access to high-quality, cost-effective care."
“Health plans and employers know the value of sending patients with complex and or rare conditions to high-quality centers such as Mayo Clinic,” said Dr. Charles Rosen, Mayo Clinic's medical director of contracting and payer relations.
Today's announcement marks the latest collaboration between Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth/ Optum. Earlier this year, Mayo Clinic announced its partnership with Optum360 for revenue management services.
In 2013, they launched "a strategic research alliance" to create a state-of-the-art facility in Cambridge, Mass under the umbrella of OptumLabs. OptumLabs is a for-profit unit of UnitedHealthcare's Optum division, which earned $1.3 billion in 2011.
The research facility today has 22 major corporate partners and has more than 100 studies in process.