Three companies, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase joined forces in order to offer health care to their 1 million employees based in the U.S.
In January 2018, the companies announced that they are partnering to create a non-profit, which focus is to develop technology solutions ensuring employees and their families cost-effective, and simplified health care services.
The companies also plan to offer insurance to their employees, but it is still unclear how, especially that employees belong already into the Medicare and Medicaid schemes.
In July 9th, surgeon, writer, and Harvard professor Dr. Atul Gawande became the CEO of the non-profit joint company based in Boston.
Amazon is working solo in the healthcare industry already. The company plans to acquire this autumn an online pharmacy called PillPack, which is licensed in 50 states. In addition, it has well-being centres operating exclusively for its employees. Finally, the online retail giant is planning to open a primary care clinic in its Seattle’s headquarter. When a pilot is planned for this year, the clinic should start running in the beginning of 2019. However, it is unknown if the health clinic is part of the co-project with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan. The company started last year primary care experts and approached several external providers before deciding to internalize the project.
The primary care services would very likely involve regular and long-term visits as Dr Atul Gawande believes.
A monthly flat fee with unlimited access to primary care could be an operational model of the clinic since the Amaz on’s founder was already involved in a similar model for a health clinic.
The non-profit company is likely to focus on preventive services. A recent trend followed by many companies including Apple and Google, is to offer diet and physical activity support to their employees to keep them healthy and not stressed. This is logical if companies aim to improve the performance of their employees and reduce seek leaves as much as possible.
High quality care
This will be achievable because there will be one and proximate source of health care.
Standardized and digitalized processes also play a role.
Services are planned to be cheaper than the market.
Preventive services aim to improve employees’ health and ultimately avoid the cost of expensive MRIs for instance.
If the Pillpack online pharmacy is integrated into the health care model to be developed, it could cut the medicines related costs and potentially provide cheaper medicines to the patient.
Transparent health care: No asymmetry of information and accessible health records.
Healthy workforce with increased wellbeing:
“We share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes,” - Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
Visionary as it ultimately aims to improve the health of all Americans.
Risky and challenging since it is still in the exploratory phase and pilot.
“The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.” - Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.
“Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.
Diversity of employees:
Amazon has wellbeing centres for its employees while Berkshire Hathaway’s employees are mostly receiving Medicaid and Medicare benefits only, which are as bad as for the average American.
Amazon, for instance, has different employees with different needs. Indeed, warehouse operators are at risk of more workplace injuries than engineers or sales representatives.
If the project is implemented, the big question is who will manage health records confidentiality.
To date, not too much information is available.
Overall promising. A lot of unknowns. Wait and see.