In a recent conversation with Joseph Ochipinti, CEO for the Gulf States Region of United Healthcare, we talked about of health care in the United States.
Joseph was named CEO of the Gulf States Region in 2016, and he oversees United’s operations in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. In total, the company serves over 1.8 million members in those states, and nationally, serves over 49 million members. As a company, United is one of the “Fortune 6,” so by anybody’s standards, it’s not a small enterprise.
After growing up in New Jersey, Joseph graduated from LaSalle University, got his master’s at Webster University, and came to the South in 1997. After joining United in 2003, he rose steadily through the management ranks.
I asked Joseph how such a large company can hope to maintain a personal touch with its members?
“It starts with a firm commitment to our mission, and we do our best to impress the importance of that mission on all our our 250,000 employees nationwide,” he said. “In a nutshell, that mission is our commitment to helping people live healthier lives.”
As he sees it, United is driven by its values, and strives to connect members to the best providers and care through collaborative partnerships, wellness programs, and the “personal touch.” The company has informative sites to help their members, including JustPlainClear.com, and other sites that can be accessed through the company’s primary site, UHC.com.
“We know that in many cases, people don’t want to interact through the Internet or recordings, so we do our best to meet their needs and have qualified professionals available to help,” he said. “We try to constantly stay in touch with our members and learn about their concerns and needs, through surveys and personal interaction.”
Much of the focus of that personal touch means getting people the information they need to make informed decisions about their health care, and Joseph says that is extremely important when it comes to the “open enrollment” periods for Medicare.
“We know that health care is a confusing issue,” he suggested. “Many people don’t understand the complex terms that they will be exposed to, and we try hard to help them get a grasp on what their options are, when the time comes to shop for their health care.”
I asked him how he sees technology playing a role in that process.
“Well, when we talk to our members and listen to their concerns, we find that a significant number are open to being served through tele-medicine,” he said. “That’s one important way that people in rural areas who would have a hard time traveling long distances to see a health care provider, can get the professional attention and care they need.”
He also strongly supports wellness programs that many larger employers are offering to their employees.
“It’s very important to identify issues before they become serious issues,” he said. “And in the workplace, productivity is tied to healthy employees, so it benefits everyone.”
He believes an annual wellness exam can in fact improve the overall health of many people, but he sees the process as a “partnership between the individual and their health care providers”.
How does he see the current national picture for health care, and what does the future hold?
“Well, it’s obviously somewhat confusing at present,” he said. “You’d have to be a prophet to really predict where things will go in Washington in the next few years. But one thing is for sure, we at United will be at the forefront of helping to deliver the best possible care and outcomes to our members who rely on us.”
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at email@example.com or (601) 364-1021.
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