UnitedHealthcare Provides $20 Million in Technology Investments to Improve Patient Care in Rural Communities Throughout California

Source: UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare has provided $20 million in financing to help 11 Critical Access Hospitals in rural communities throughout California improve health information technology (IT) systems, including the adoption of electronic health records.

“We’re grateful to play a role in improving the health and well-being of so many communities served by Critical Access Hospitals. It is important that they have access to technology that will enable them to deliver quality care to their patients.”

The announcement was made during a statewide rural health conference in Lake Tahoe (Rural Health Conference 2012: Rural Medicine in the 21st Century) where health care leaders and medical professionals from throughout California gathered to discuss rural health issues including clinical best practices, use of technology to improve delivery of care in rural areas, wellness promotion strategies and electronic medical records.

The 11 hospitals selected for funding comprise California’s Critical Access Hospitals, which are located in remote areas of the state. These health facilities have a maximum of 25 beds and are located at least 35 miles from another hospital, or 15 miles from another facility and in mountainous terrain or areas with only secondary roads.

UnitedHealthcare purchased the 11 hospitals’ private placement bonds worth $19.4 million with a flexible repayment plan that includes a rebate of up to 10 percent for early repayment. UnitedHealthcare also provided $577,000 in grants to pay for additional financing costs. Earlier, UnitedHealthcare provided $200,000 in grants to the California State Rural Health Association (CSRHA) to assess IT needs at California’s Critical Access Hospitals, for a total financial support of $20 million.

The funds were made through UnitedHealthcare’s California Health Care Investment Program, a 20-year, $200 million commitment to health care organizations that provide services to underserved, low-income and underinsured communities and populations throughout California. To date, UnitedHealthcare has exceeded the commitment, providing $266 million in total investments to 45 health care organizations throughout the state.

The 11 hospitals include: Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Mendocino County ($2.5 million); Trinity Hospital in Trinity County ($1.7 million); Plumas Health Care District ($1.5 million) and Seneca Healthcare District ($1.6 million) in Plumas County; John C. Fremont Healthcare District in Mariposa County ($2 million); Last Frontier Healthcare District ($1.6 million) and Surprise Valley Health Care District ($800,000) in Modoc County; Mayers Memorial Hospital District in Shasta County ($2 million); Kern Valley Healthcare District in Kern County ($1.5 million); Southern Inyo Healthcare District in Inyo County ($1.7 million); and Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital in Butte County ($2.5 million).

“With this critical funding from UnitedHealthcare, patients in these remote areas will have access to much of the same quality of care and technological advancements benefiting people who live in more populated areas of the state,” said Raymond Hino, chairman of the California Critical Access Hospital Network Advisory Board and CEO of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. “These investments are helping improve patient care by transforming our health care delivery systems through the use of technology and electronic medical records.”

“We are very grateful for this investment that is helping improve our ability to provide better access to patient medical records and improve their quality of care, particularly in emergency situations,” said Tim McGlew, CEO of Kern Valley Healthcare District, which received $1.5 million in funding. “Without these resources, we would not have been able to upgrade and implement our electronic medical records initiative, which is improving the quality of care and access to medical records to better care for our patients.”

Along with the California State Rural Health Association, UnitedHealthcare worked with the California Critical Access Hospital Network (CCAHN) and the California Rural eHealth Information Network (CAReHIN), in assessing the IT needs at these hospitals and providing recommendations on which facilities had the greatest need for the technology improvements.

“CSRHA is proud to be a part of this collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, linking rural California with the latest technology available to promote healthy communities,” said Steve Barrow, executive director of the California State Rural Health Association. “The interests of rural people must not be lost or dismissed because of distance, geographic isolation and lack of concentrated resources. UnitedHealthcare understands these important issues and through their funding is helping improve the health of rural Californians and the quality and accessibility of the health care they receive.”

“UnitedHealthcare is continuing its commitment to invest in California’s health care infrastructure and ensure that all Californians have access to care,” said Dan Rosenthal, West Region CEO, UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual. “We’re grateful to play a role in improving the health and well-being of so many communities served by Critical Access Hospitals. It is important that they have access to technology that will enable them to deliver quality care to their patients.”

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, serves more than 2.3 million Californians with a care provider network of 323 hospitals and more than 47,400 physicians statewide. The company has been actively engaged in helping to improve Californians’ access to quality health care. In addition to the $21 million in funding for Critical Access Hospitals, UnitedHealthcare has provided $1.3 million in grants to the California Telehealth Network to help expand telemedicine in rural and medically underserved clinics and hospitals throughout the state.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealth Group is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.