Optum Labs funds the opening of a digital health research center at Cornell

Optum Labs funds the opening of a digital health research center at Cornell

Photo: Al David Sacks/Getty Images

Optum Labs, the research and development arm of UnitedHealth Group, and Cornell Tech have created a collaborative research center at Cornell University in New York that will focus on precision behavioral health and promoting equity in care health.

This move, Optum said, was spurred by recent innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobile sensing technology and virtual reality, which are creating opportunities to improve care.

Optum Labs is providing funding in 2022-23, which will spur research in precision behavioral health, extended reality for aging-in-place, and equitable human and algorithmic decision-making.


The partnership will be led by Deborah Estrin, Associate Dean and Robert V. Tishman ’37 Professor at Cornell, and Dr. Tanzeem Choudhury, Senior Vice President at Optum Labs and Roger and Joelle Burnell Professor of Integrated Health and Technology at Cornell. .

They said the partnership was formed with the specific goal of transforming patient outcomes and healthcare by incorporating new types of healthcare data from wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) and creating new types of remote intervention and care delivery using augmented reality and virtual reality. actuation technologies with computational techniques.

Estrin said the research initiative will accelerate the translation of new research into scalable tools to improve individual and community health.

Ranju Das, CEO of Optum Labs, said that by bringing together universities and research institutes, “we are creating a collaborative environment where research results are achieved efficiently with an immediate opportunity to have an equitable impact.”


Despite efforts by the US Department of Justice to stop the merger, Optum successfully merged with Change Healthcare in October. The estimated $13 billion merger combines UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest companies in the United States and owner of the nation’s largest health insurer, and Change Healthcare, one of the largest electronic data clearinghouses from the country.

The company entered into a number of partnerships this year, including teaming up with Red Ventures on a new joint venture focused on consumer health, RVO Health, which includes physician ratings through Healthgrades, among other things.

Red Ventures is a portfolio of brands that includes Healthgrades, Healthline Media, Optum Perks and Optum Store, as well as virtual coaching programs. These will all be integrated into the RVO Health business. According to a report by Moody’s Investors Service, RVO Health will combine 120 million UHG customers and over 50 million members with Red Ventures’ 95 million unique monthly visitors.

Also this year, Optum, parent company UnitedHealth Group, and Walmart began a 10-year collaboration that the companies describe as “far-reaching,” with the goal of leveraging their combined expertise to improve health outcomes and health. patient experience.

The collaboration will begin in 2023 with 15 Walmart Health locations in Florida and Georgia, and expand to new geographies over time. Ultimately, the companies expect to serve hundreds of thousands of seniors and Medicare beneficiaries under value-based arrangements through multiple Medicare Advantage plans.


“The Digital Health Research Center creates closer collaborations between world-renowned academic health technology researchers and Optum Labs scientists,” Choudhury said. “The new algorithms and computing systems resulting from this partnership have the potential to shape the future of digital healthcare solutions.”

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the author: Jeff.Lagasse@himssmedia.com

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