In a $600 million cash transaction, Optum, the IT and business services unit of UnitedHealth Group, is buying health management vendor Alere Health, which provides services to more than 200 regional and local health plans, 89 Fortune 500 employers and 29 states, covering about 22 million people in the U.S.

Through personalized interactions, Alere Health’s solutions include wellness and prevention, care management and specialized interventions designed to improve health outcomes. Optum’s acquisition of Alere Health, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter and is contingent on regulatory approval and other closing conditions, would add Alere’s tobacco cessation and home-based obstetrical services to the broad scope of health services Optum currently provides to payers, employers and states. 

“Alere Health’s expert team and proven health management solutions are a strong fit with our focus on empowering consumers to make more informed decisions, achieve healthier lifestyles and take greater ownership of their health,” said Larry Renfro, CEO of Optum, in a written statement. “Adding Alere Health’s solutions and expertise allow us to be an even more valuable partner to payers, employers, federal and state governments and consumers in achieving their long-term population health and cost management goals.”

For its part, Waltham, Mass.-based Alere intends to use the proceeds from the all-cash sale of Alere Health to reduce debt. Namal Nawana, president and CEO of Alere, said the sale is an important step in the execution of his company's strategy to focus on its core area of strength in rapid diagnostics for infectious disease, cardiometabolic disease and toxicology, and to improve its balance sheet.  

Last month, Optum announced plans to acquire physician practice consultancy MedSynergies Inc. for an undisclosed sum. That acquisition would expand Optum’s services to physicians, particularly in the area of revenue cycle management.

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