Optum Labs Funds Opening of Digital Health Research Center at Cornell

Photo: Al David Sacks/Getty Images

Optum Labs, the research and development arm of the UnitedHealth Group, and Cornell Tech have created a collaborative research center at Cornell University in New York that will focus on precision behavioral health and the advancement of equity in health care.

The move, Optum said, was spurred by recent innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobile sensing technology and virtual reality, which are creating opportunities to improve care.

Optum Labs is providing funding in 2022-’23, which will drive research into precision behavioral health, extended reality for ongoing aging, and equitable human and algorithmic decision-making.


The partnership will be led by Deborah Estrin, associate dean and Robert V. Tishman ’37 professor at Cornell, and Dr. Tanzeem Choudhury, senior vice president at Optum Labs and Roger and Joelle Burnell professor in integrated health and technology at Cornell.

They said the partnership was formed with the specific intent to transform patient outcomes and healthcare by incorporating new types of health data from wearables and IoT and creating new types of remote intervention and care delivery using actuation technologies of augmented reality and virtual reality with computational techniques.

Estrin said the research initiative will accelerate the translation of new research into scalable tools for improving individual and community health.

Ranju Das, CEO of Optum Labs, said that by bringing universities and research institutes together, “we are creating a collaborative environment where research results are efficiently achieved with immediate opportunity for equitable impact.”


Despite efforts by the Justice Department to stop the merger, Optum successfully merged with Change Healthcare in October. The merger, valued at $13 billion, combines UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest companies in the United States and owner of the nation’s largest health insurer, and Change Healthcare, among the nation’s largest electronic data exchanges.

The company has entered into a number of partnerships this year, most notably by partnering with Red Ventures on a new joint venture focused on consumer health, RVO Health, which among other things includes medical assessments through Healthgrades.

Red Ventures is a portfolio of brands that includes Healthgrades, Healthline Media, Optum Perks and Optum Store, as well as virtual coaching programs. Those will all be fed into the RVO Health enterprise. According to a report from Moody’s Investors Service, RVO Health will unite 120 million UHG customers and more than 50 million members with Red Ventures’ 95 million unique monthly visitors.

Also this year, Optum, parent company UnitedHealth Group and Walmart entered into a decade-long partnership that the companies describe as “wide-ranging” to leverage their combined expertise to improve healthcare outcomes and the patient experience. patient.

The partnership will begin in 2023 with 15 Walmart Health locations in Florida and Georgia and will expand to new geographies over time. Ultimately, the companies plan to serve hundreds of thousands of seniors and Medicare beneficiaries in value-based arrangements through multiple Medicare Advantage plans.


“The Digital Health Research Hub is forging closer collaborations between world-renowned health technology researchers from academia and Optum Labs scientists,” said Choudhury. solutions”.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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