Insurer awards $5.2M for health IT

UnitedHealthcare gives grants to California nonprofits - $897,240 to On Lok Lifeways of San Francisco
By Bernie Monegain
09:55 AM

Healthcare insurer UnitedHealth Group has awarded On Lok Lifeways a $897,240 grant to help strengthen its health information technology system and delivery of care to San Francisco Bay area seniors through electronic medical records initiatives. The grant is part of $5.2 million UnitedHealthcare awarded to nine healthcare organizations to support nonprofit clinics, hospitals and healthcare organizations that improve healthcare services for underserved communities across California.

Founded in 1972, On Lok Lifeways in San Francisco provides health services including long-term care and support services to seniors. On Lok Lifeways' efforts in the Bay Area created PACE, or the Program of All- inclusive Care for the Elderly, a model of care delivery that has been replicated in 91 organizations in 30 states.

[See also: California Telehealth Network receives $700,000 from UnitedHealth.]

Officials say the UnitedHealthcare grant will help On Lok Lifeways strengthen its PACELink program, which uses health information technology and electronic medical records to improve care and coordination for seniors served by a network of 10 healthcare and wellness centers in the Bay Area.

Specifically, the grant will fund software improvements, technology investments and training that will provide greater efficiencies in the coordination of care through the automation of scheduling, clinic appointments, transportation, home-visit reporting, medication distribution and pharmacy prescriptions.

The grant was announced during a volunteer day at On Lok's Gee Senior Center, where UnitedHealthcare employees joined community leaders to help On Lok Lifeways seniors plant a vegetable garden, plant flowers in hand-painted pots and make flower arrangements, among other activities.

In 2009, the health group also provided a $250,000 grant to On Lok to launch an EMR initiative. 

[See also: UnitedHealth Group to make $10M IT investment.]

"We can't thank UnitedHealthcare enough for this grant and the important improvements to our programs and services that will benefit the seniors who rely on On Lok Lifeways for care," Robert E. Edmondson, CEO and executive director, On Lok, said in a statement. "UnitedHealthcare and its employees continue to be longstanding supporters of On Lok, and we are grateful for their ongoing commitment to our mission and the many families we serve."

"On Lok Lifeways does important work in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area to support seniors," said Eric Mar, supervisor, city and county of San Francisco. "I applaud UnitedHealthcare and its employees for their continued support of On Lok and this grant, which will help strengthen the services and quality of care for the seniors who benefit from On Lok Lifeways."

Since 2008, UnitedHealthcare has provided more than $30 million in grants to 53 nonprofits statewide. Nine of them are in the San Francisco Bay Area, which received $3.1 million.

In addition to these grants, UnitedHealthcare's California Health Care Investment Program has provided $269 million in total investments to 46 healthcare organizations throughout the state to help underserved, low-income and underinsured communities and populations. This includes $17.5 million to construct the new Institute on Aging facility in San Francisco; $4.6 million to build a new La Clinica de La Raza medical center in Concord; and $6.5 million to help construct the new Petaluma Medical Center.

"On Lok Lifeways is an invaluable healthcare resource in the San Francisco Bay area, helping seniors with an array of health services and programs," said Greg Wright, west region president, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. "UnitedHealthcare appreciates the opportunity to provide this grant and work together to strengthen On Lok's programs and services for seniors."

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, serves more than 2.4 million Californians with a care provider network of 320 hospitals and more than 57,000 physicians statewide.