The largest corporations in the world turn their focus to the health care industry, and we follow up on our latest industry-focused blogs. This news round-up examines the latest on business and industry investment and the most significant developments affecting health care and its professions.
1. Court Testimony Reveals Focus of Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan Joint Venture
Last week, journalists at the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and FierceHealthcare pored over unsealed testimony in a court case where insurer UnitedHealth Group hoped to prevent a former executive from working at the Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase joint venture aimed at tackling big issues in health care. The case "highlighted the anxiety of established insurance companies... over newcomers to their territory," reports the NYT.
The unsealed testimony further provides insight into the focus of the joint venture, referred to as ABC in court documents, which had previously maintained a degree of silence regarding their activity. ABC's aim is to fix the health care experience for the roughly one million individuals covered by the three employers, at a cost of about $4 billion per year. Seeking to better understand the cost of care and drugs "doesn't make us a competitor," said senior executive John C. Stoddard in his testimony. "That makes us a very informed customer... They think of us as competitors, when I see us as potential partners."
So, what's the ABC joint venture up to?
- Making insurance easier for employees to understand
- Overhauling employee health benefit design
- Contracting for greater cost transparency in drugs
- Making primary care more central in the health care experience
2. CNBC Offers Insight into Health-focused Walgreens, CVS Redesigns
Our previous blogs discussed at length the groundbreaking CVS-Aetna merger, what it meant for health care, and what Walgreens, CVS's chief competitor, was going to do about it. Both companies have signaled major strategic investments in retooling their stores to provide more care services. CVS Health and Walgreens' massive retail footprints could turn these pilot programs into massive developments affecting health care as a whole. Journalist Angelica LaVito for CNBC recently provided deeper insight into the two drugstore giants' health-focused redesigns.
CVS HealthHUB Features
- More medical products, with a senior focus
- Wellness rooms for yoga, nutrition classes
- More MinuteClinic services like blood testing and health screening
- A coordinated "care concierge" service to guide customers
Walgreens Health-centric Pilot Features
- Optometry services and eye glasses
- LabCorp partnership for blood work and drug tests
- Hearing tests and hearing aid fitting
- Pharmacy redesign with greater privacy, express checkout
- Stock room shrunk 60%, beauty and wellness products front-and-center
3. Alphabet Teams with Walgreens on Patients with Chronic Conditions
In addition to the many initiatives encapsulated in its health-centric pilot, above, Walgreens also made news recently in partnering with Alphabet's Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences, to improve care for patients with chronic conditions. The whirlwind of news surrounding Walgreens makes it clear that their strategy is to throw partnerships at the wall and see what sticks, but this particular partnership will be a major expansion of access to the tech giant's health technology. Any of these partnerships could ultimately be massive developments affecting health care on a fundamental level.
What will Alphabet-Walgreens tackle, together?
- New apps, or artificial intelligence, tackling chronic conditions
- Solutions to promote medication adherence
- A "virtual clinic" for type 2 diabetes management
4. Artificial Intelligence Developments Affecting Health Care from Amazon, Microsoft
Our last blog discussed Microsoft's massive potential impact on health care, and we've heard more news since. Official reports dropped earlier in February of several Microsoft product launches specifically targeting the health care market. In the competition's corner, STAT Plus conducted an interview with senior leader of artificial intelligence at Amazon, Dr. Taha Kass-Hout, offering deeper insight into Amazon's products and goals.
Microsoft Health Care Product Launches
- Microsoft 365 / Microsoft Teams for hospitals (secure & compliant communication)
- Azure API for sharing health records (data interoperability & security)
- Microsoft Health Care Bot (platform to deploy custom conversational bots)
What's going on at Amazon AWS?
- Kass-Hout expects AI to help personalize care and empower patients...
- ...in addition to augmenting clinicians and bridging gaps in health systems,...
- ...furthering precision medicine, and even predicting insurance claims.
- Amazon's machine learner is called Comprehend Medical - it's mining patient data.
Industry impact on health care focuses HPN’s next conference. Join us there.
We expect the industry developments affecting health care to drastically change the nature of non-physician health professions—what skills and education they need, what roles they play, where they work and how they collaborate with other health care providers. Industry impact on health care will be significant, and change will happen fast. HPN seeks to stay ahead of the curve on behalf of our members and our members’ members.
Join the Health Professions Network at our April 3-5 conference in Cincinnati to make in-roads on these industry developments, and learn how these massive trends may affect your profession—in the immediate future. We can guarantee you’ll leave with practical takeaways to guide your organization’s strategy and make a greater impact for the professionals you support.
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