Mapping UnitedHealth’s consumption of our health care system – from the ‘70s to today: A Case Study in Collaboration for Better Outcomes and Cost Savings

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

May 31, 2024

4 min read


Mapping UnitedHealth’s consumption of our health care system – from the ‘70s to today: A Case Study in Collaboration for Better Outcomes and Cost Savings


The healthcare industry has undergone significant transformations over the past few decades, with major players like UnitedHealth Group leading the way. This article aims to provide a comprehensive timeline of UnitedHealth's acquisitions and partnerships, showcasing its rise to become the 5th largest company in the United States. Additionally, we will explore a case study involving Strive Health and SSM Health, highlighting the successful collaboration that resulted in improved patient outcomes and cost savings.

UnitedHealth Group's Timeline of Acquisitions:

Since the 1970s, UnitedHealth Group has been actively expanding its presence in the healthcare industry through strategic acquisitions. Starting with Charter Med Incorporated in 1977, UnitedHealth embarked on a journey of growth and diversification. Over the years, they acquired notable companies such as MetraHealth Companies, Oxford Health Plans, and AmeriChoice. These acquisitions allowed UnitedHealth to expand its reach and offerings, solidifying its position as a dominant force in the healthcare sector.

The Impact of UnitedHealth's Growth:

UnitedHealth's continuous expansion has not only contributed to its own success but has also shaped the healthcare landscape. By integrating various companies and services under its umbrella, UnitedHealth has created a comprehensive ecosystem that caters to a wide range of healthcare needs. This integration has facilitated improved coordination of care, streamlined processes, and increased efficiency in delivering healthcare services.

The Strive Health and SSM Health Partnership:

In 2020, Strive Health and SSM Health formed a partnership with the shared goal of creating better outcomes for patients while reducing costs. This collaboration was a result of their mutual commitment to value-based kidney care. Within just 90 days, the partnership was established and began producing remarkable results. The first-year outcomes demonstrated a 10% reduction in total costs of care among patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) and high-risk chronic kidney disease (CKD). Furthermore, unnecessary hospitalizations among the ESKD population were reduced by an impressive 48%.

Expanding the Partnership:

Buoyed by the initial success, SSM Health and Strive Health are now focused on expanding their partnership. One of their key objectives is to increase patient participation in value-based kidney care. By engaging patients actively in their own healthcare journey, the partnership aims to empower individuals and improve their overall well-being. Moreover, SSM Health and Strive Health are exploring new relationships with healthcare payors in the Midwest. This expansion will allow them to reach a broader patient population and extend the benefits of value-based kidney care to a larger demographic.

Enhancing the Care Model:

The collaboration between Strive Health and SSM Health goes beyond the initial objectives of improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. They are now working on enhancing the care model by focusing on discharge planning, follow-up care, and multi-modality dialysis. By addressing the entire continuum of care, from pre-treatment to post-treatment, the partnership aims to create a seamless and comprehensive experience for patients. This holistic approach ensures that patients receive the necessary support and resources at every stage of their kidney care journey.

Actionable Advice for Healthcare Collaborations:

  • 1. Prioritize shared goals: When entering into a partnership or collaboration, it is crucial to align on shared objectives. Clearly define the common goals and work towards achieving them together. This shared vision will drive the partnership forward and lead to successful outcomes.
  • 2. Embrace innovation and technology: In today's rapidly advancing healthcare landscape, leveraging innovation and technology is key to driving positive change. Embrace digital solutions, data analytics, and telehealth to enhance patient care, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
  • 3. Foster a culture of collaboration: Collaboration requires a culture of trust, open communication, and mutual respect. Encourage teamwork, interdisciplinary collaboration, and knowledge sharing among healthcare professionals to achieve optimal results.


UnitedHealth Group's journey of acquisitions and partnerships has reshaped the healthcare industry, while the collaboration between Strive Health and SSM Health serves as a testament to the power of collaboration in achieving better outcomes and cost savings. By mapping the evolution of UnitedHealth and highlighting successful collaborations, we can learn valuable lessons about the importance of strategic partnerships, shared goals, and a patient-centered approach. By following the actionable advice provided, other healthcare organizations can strive to achieve similar successes in the pursuit of improved healthcare outcomes and cost savings.

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