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Adopting an all-in approach

UnitedHealth Group and our subsidiaries have been front and center in the COVID-19 pandemic since the very beginning. The first documented COVID-19 patient in the United States was a patient at the Everett Clinic, an Optum Health practice in Washington State. 

Even in these early days of the pandemic, we recognized COVID-19’s potential impact and immediately adopted an all-in approach. We worked with our frontline physicians in Washington and the FDA to improve testing protocols which dramatically expanded the nation’s testing capacity.

We also provided early support for Mayo Clinic’s research into convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19, developed light ventilators to backstop the national stockpile with the University of Minnesota, Medtronic and Boston Scientific, and conducted important retrospective studies identifying the clinical benefit of drugs like Metformin for some patients. 

We did all that in days and weeks instead of years and were able to address these key issues by drawing on our collaborative partnerships, data and analytics capacity, and clinical expertise.

Applying these lessons in a post-COVID world

With the virus now thankfully more under control (but we are not out of the woods!), we’re looking forward to applying what we’ve learned to get ahead of problems before they escalate. 

As more people are vaccinated, we’ll apply what we learned from COVID-19 to other health care challenges. Some of those lessons — vaccines and therapies for example — push the cutting edge of science, technology and medicine. 

Others — like data collection and analysis — represent a back-to-basics foundation for intervening earlier and better. Quite frankly, we’ve got to do both to successfully reinvent care so it meets patients where they are with what they need.  

The new normal

Although much has changed, nothing will be more impactful or long-lasting than the accelerated pace of health care innovation and growing commitment to build health equity.

The pandemic catalyzed collaboration, practical testing, and scaled adaptation at an unbelievable pace. That’s muscle memory now and we’re not going back. At the same time, COVID-19 exposed racial health disparities and made addressing them a national priority. 

For UnitedHealth Group, COVID-19 reaffirmed the importance of data and innovation to advance the Quadruple Aim. You’ll see that continue to play out in our efforts to align provider incentives through value-based arrangements, better coordinate care and empower patients through signal detection technology and develop interventions that address root causes of health care problems.