Innovators, Not Incumbents, Are the Answer to High Healthcare Costs

Innovators, Not Incumbents, Are the Answer to High Healthcare Costs

We’re fresh off our return from one of the largest gatherings of companies, providers, insurers, thought leaders, tech startups and around 4,000 other stakeholders in the healthcare sector. HLTH, The Future of Healthcare, was an impressive event.

We’re also one week past the unveiling of President Trump’s “American Patients First” plan to bring down drug prices.

In conversations at the HLTH conference and elsewhere, we heard time and again how the answer to high healthcare costs lies neither in Washington, D.C., nor in any incumbent players in the current healthcare system. Innovators will change this game by empowering payers and consumers to disrupt, force or otherwise drive a better return on the $3 trillion we spend on healthcare.

It’s also clear that employers are no longer content to sit back and wait for change; they’re seeking solutions right now. We need to look no further than Amazon, JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway’s plan to create a healthcare company for their combined employees.

"I tell people, JP Morgan Chase already buys $1.5 billion of medical, and we self-insure,” CEO Jamie Dimon told Business Insider. “Think of this, we’re already the insurance company, we’re already making these decisions, and we simply want to do a better job.”

To be sure, it won’t be as simple as implementing a new technology or two, but I think we all expect innovation in anything involving Jeff Bezos and Amazon.

“The self-insured employers are so ready for innovation now. They weren’t always that way, but now they’ve gotten ready, because no one has been able to stem this increasing cost of healthcare,” said Glen Tullman, CEO of Livongo, in the same Business Insider article, which also includes comments from our CEO Michael Rea.

It’s a great article that talks about “activist employers” who are hungry to try new things in an industry that's waiting for its “Uber moment.”

When will it come? Who knows. But as Mike summed up for all of us, waiting around for another part of the current industry (or government) to solve the problem isn’t an option.