bii unitedhealthcare ceo steve nelsonUnitedHealthcareThe US healthcare industry is in a state of flux, as rising costs, shifting consumer expectations, and a changing reimbursement model threaten a fragmented healthcare system. Insurers are tasked with the balancing act of controlling customer healthcare costs while also encouraging healthcare providers to move to a reimbursement system that emphasizes value over volume.

Business Insider Intelligence recently spoke with UnitedHealthcare CEO Steve Nelson to understand how UnitedHealthcare — the largest health insurance company in the US — has implemented a digital health strategy to address these challenges. We discussed what’s been successful in UnitedHealthcare’s adoption of digital health, and the obstacles it faced in executing digital health solutions. We also spoke about the disruptive role non-traditional entrants could have in the future digital health landscape — and when digital health will be synonymous with health. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.

The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.


Business Insider Intelligence: What's pressured UnitedHealthcare to adopt digital health solutions?

Steve Nelson: It’s no secret that the healthcare system needs some work. In fact, it’s not really a system at all. It’s confusing, it’s difficult to navigate, and it’s too expensive. When you combine that with some of the demographic trends that you see in our country — the population is getting older, we’re experiencing more chronic disease — it gets even more complicated and more expensive. And consumer expectations are changing dramatically as well. So, this creates an opportunity for an organization like ours to lead this digital transformation.

BII: Is there a sense of urgency around adopting digital health?

SN: Yes — it’s hard to articulate how restless and urgent we are. We really are committed to the idea that we have got to drive change. But it’s not just technology and tools that will create change. It’s your mindset.

When you’re restless and you’re urgent, then you’re willing to think about things like a startup or a disruptor would. We’re not stuck to the traditional ways, [...]