Apr 22, 2015

Champion of Nursing: UnitedHealth Group

As one of the nation’s largest health insurers, UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is always looking to provide accessible, high-quality, patient-centered programs at lower cost. It found a winner in HouseCalls, a nurse-led care management program that’s been a staple since 2012 of its Medicare Advantage plans, including AARP Medicare Complete.

Last year, the innovative model saw nurse practitioners make nearly 753,000 visits to UnitedHealthcare members’ homes to give patients physical exams, take medical and social histories, complete medication reviews, provide counseling and education, and coordinate with members’ primary care providers. These nurse practitioners help connect patients with other services—such as behavioral health, nutritional or social programs—to keep members healthy and independent.

“HouseCalls has a tremendous impact on the lives of our members and the plan’s ability to manage their care,” said Kristy Duffey, UHG’s vice president of HouseCalls Clinical Operations. “When you see a primary care provider once a year, you typically see them for 10 minutes. With HouseCalls, we are spending 60 minutes assessing a patient’s health history and environmental risks to assess conditions long term. We’re trying to be preventive vs. reactive.”

HouseCalls is expected to make 860,000 visits this year to a significant percentage of United’s Medicare Advantage members. “The majority of our network is nurse practitioners,” says Duffey. Operating in 39 states, HouseCalls employs 1,200 nurse practitioners and growing.

HouseCalls is just one way UnitedHealth Group—a strong supporter of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action and a member of its business advisory board, the Champion Nursing Coalition—is advancing nursing.

In 2008, UnitedHealth Group established the Center for Nursing Advancement to improve the way it was hiring, retaining, and working with nurses. As the nation’s largest nongovernmental employer of nurses, UnitedHealth Group competes with others to hire and retain the linchpin of the primary care workforce.

“The Center is an industry best practice,” said Dawn Bazarko, the Center’s founder and now chief executive officer of Moment Health, a UnitedHealth Group company focused on mindfulness solutions.

It has become a champion for UnitedHealth Group’s thousands of nurses worldwide, as well as nurses everywhere. “We are doing a lot of things the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report on nursing called for,” she said.

In addition to supporting nurse-led models of care, the Center offers professional development opportunities to prepare nurses as leaders and innovators in their field. It has also launched nurse executive leadership programs to help nurses gain business acumen and other skills to advance into leadership programs; sponsored research showing the value of nursing professionals; and formed an advisory board to advance nursing best practices, create strong professional and industry partnerships, influence nursing policy nationally, and further the profession.

Additionally, the United Health Foundation supports the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program, a program to build the next generation of nursing leaders through scholarship funding and leadership development.

The Campaign is proud to have the support of UnitedHealth Group and its Center, which recognize the critical value of nurses and are leveraging their strengths to make a positive impact for health care consumers, the nursing profession, and the health care industry.

This story appeared in the April 2015 issue of Advancing Health: News from the Campaign for Action.