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UnitedHealth Group To Roll Out Coronavirus Test To 46,000 Doctors Bruce JapsenSenior Contributor Healthcare

UnitedHealth Group will roll out a patient-administered test for the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 to 46,000 of its OptumCare physicians.

The nation’s largest health insurer, which owns the giant Optum health services company, has under its umbrella 46,000 OptumCare physicians who can provide a patient-administered test process UnitedHealth executives say is as effective as the current clinician-administered test process.

“We expect them, and many others, to begin to adopt this new testing process,” a UnitedHealth spokesman said Thursday morning of the 46,000 OptumCare doctors.

A study funded by UnitedHealth Group earlier this week shows people can self-administer a diagnostic test with a much smaller swab, a process that should save potentially thousands of clinicians from being exposed to the virus while at the same time making the testing simpler.

Researchers say such a self-administered process eliminates the need for the healthcare worker to be “up close to the patient” with patient protective equipment when the patient can merely swab their own nostril and had the test to the medical care provider.

The test is already being used in Seattle where doctors at an Optum-affiliated clinic have been using the self-administered method and led a study UnitedHealth Group released Wednesday.

“We know that broad, rapid and accurate testing is essential to addressing the COVID-19 crisis, yet the current clinician-administered process significantly limits testing capacity, puts frontline health care workers at risk of COVID-19 exposure, and is unpleasant for patients,” Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, an infectious disease expert at The Everett Clinic and the study’s lead author said. Everett Clinic is a part of OptumCare, the medical care provider business of UnitedHealth.

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