Can a new player really disrupt health care?

KEY TAKEAWAY: The announcement on Tuesday that Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway would be joining forces to create a health care company moved stock markets and prompted optimistic predictions of major reform in a notoriously complex industry, but technical expertise is not going to be enough to really disrupt a very complicated and bureaucratic industry.

The CEO’s of Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway are quite correct that our health care system needs disruption, but money and lot’s of technical expertise are not going to result in a great product.  They are going to need help from industry insiders who understand how our healthcare system works and where disruption is likely to make a difference.  However, they need rebels and people who have an empathetic view of healthcare.

Things that they should focus on are:

1ne: Elimination of paperwork in health care.  Administrative costs accounted for 25 percent—or more than $200 billion—of total hospital spending in the United States. In the other nations included in this study, these costs accounted for between 12 percent of spending (Canada and Scotland) and 20 percent of spending (the Netherlands).

2wo: Eliminating unnecessary costs. Some experts estimate that at least $200 billion is wasted annually on excessive testing and treatment.  This overly aggressive care also can harm patients, generating mistakes and injuries believed to cause 30,000 deaths each year.

3hree: Offering incentives in preventative health care. Counseling, screening, wellness visits, prenatal care, etc., can improve health and reduce costs by preventing illness. Health problems are a major drain on the economy, resulting in 69 million workers reporting missed days due to illness each year, and reducing economic output by $260 billion per year.

4our: When and if they reach critical mass negotiate drug prices with drug companies. Sure prescription drugs are only 10% of every health care dollar spent, but Gilead’s $1000 pill for Hep-C was the primary reason prescription drug costs rose.

5ive: Allow patients to control THEIR health records. Eliminate the need to call doctors’ offices to send medical records.

6ix: Integrate AI (Alexa) into healthcare.  “Alexa I have a cough and a fever, should I go to the doctor?” Imagine Alexa not only saying yes, but saying “would you like me to make an appointment at your doctor for you?”

Finally, if they become customer focused my guess is that people are going to flock to them like pigeons with fresh bird feed on the ground. They might not succeed out of the gate, but you can be sure they have the smarts to blaze new trails to get it right.

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