How Unitedhealth Group innovated smarter using

narendra peesapati January 11th, 2019

Executive summary

Unitedhealth Group (UHG) wanted to reduce healthcare costs by helping their members make informed decisions, such as selecting a provider for a specific procedure, choosing a pharmacy, or exploring generic drug alternatives. Before investing in a full-fledged digital solution for their entire member base,they decided to build a quick prototype to validate their ideas on a representative member population. While building the prototype was not a challenge in itself, what the UHG team wanted was a quick, powerful and scalable way to analyze the app usage, gather user feedback and make data-driven decisions to shape the product roadmap. They found that met all their needs and deployed it in the prototype. As a result, they were successful in their innovation efforts.

About Unitedhealth Group (UHG)

UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is a distinctively diversified health and well-being company headquartered in the United States, and a leader worldwide in helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. UHG serves clients and consumers through two distinct platforms – UnitedHealthcare, which provides healthcare coverage and benefits services, and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services.Through UnitedHealthcare and Optum, UHG provides medical benefits to people residing in all 50 states in the United States and more than 130 other countries. It invests more than $3.3 billion annually in technology and innovation, and processes more than 750 billion digital transactions annually.

The Situation

For any health insurance company, the best case scenario is when members continue to pay their premiums but remain healthy—that’s when the company gets to collect premiums without having to worry about claims. Also, as the amount of co-pay is rising, it becomes critically important that members be well prepared financially to face any health conditions. So the biggest challenge for every single payer in the market, including bigger companies like UHG, is how to keep members healthy and also help keep their
financials in order.

Concerned about increasing healthcare costs in terms of insurance, hospital readmissions, and patients not adhering to medications, UHG wanted to invest in tools that could help its members improve health and save money.

The Challenge

The innovation team at UHG worked with the team to come up with three ideas to improve physical and financial health: 1. letting them choose a pharmacy 2. letting them choose the prescription drugs by comparing alternatives, and 3. helping them adhere to medications and instructions. The UHG team wanted to validate this idea with its members but there was no structured and scalable way to do it

The Solution

[x]cube LABS, a leading digital innovation and transformation company and also the makers of, built a lightweight mobile app for the UHG team to validate these ideas with a panel of 500 patients across three cities. Then they integrated this app with so that UHG could capture patient
feedback and app usage i.e. behavioral analytics.

First, the UHG team collected usage insights via analytics and reports based on patient city, age and gender. Then they used the advanced segmentation feature of to group patients based on their gender, the number of times they used the app and the features they used. With these groups, UHG interacted in two powerful ways: it created and showed them contextual tutorials, and it asked them contextual questions using qualitative and quantitative surveys. They did all of these quickly and on  demand—using only

For example, UHG could reach a group of patients that were female, visited the app for the fifth time and had not yet used the medicine reminder feature, to show them a tutorial on where to find this feature and how to use it. Whenever a patient learned this information and used the feature, an appropriate survey was then sent to her instantly and automatically to get qualitative feedback. This ability within to quickly configure user interactions to be both contextual and instantaneous meant that the UHG team could now spend a lot more time thinking about the ideas they wanted to validate.

Every 15 days, after analysing patient feedback, a new update to the app was released. The team went through multiple such design iterations to arrive at data-driven decisions for the app, such as:

  • It made more sense to build the app for iOS users than Android.
  • he Rx Refill feature was found to be the most useful and hence should be made available
    directly on their website home page.
  • Prior to this Review Contest, regular rating campaigns were run for 2 months with little effect.

The UHG innovation team loved the flexibility of gathering feedback and interacting contextually with users at scale using They could easily analyse the feedback responses too.

We leveraged AWS Technology Stacks like EC2, LAMBDA, CLOUDFRONT, SNS, SQS, RDS etc in order to succesfully deploy our platform.

Conclusion helped the innovation team at UHG conduct extensive pilot testing of their ideas. The UHG product roadmap was shaped by the patient insights and data-driven conclusions they obtained by using Analytics, Contextual tutorials and Surveys.