Investor’s Business Daily is out with a comprehensive and timely piece on Amazon’s bold moves in healthcare (Amazon’s Health Care Push Could Be Its Next Big Market Disruption). Even though Amazon has been weighing on the fortunes of traditional healthcare players for some time, the recent Amazon pharmacy announcement still shook up the market, driving down the shares of CVS, Rite Aid, etc.
Amazon brings consumer focus, scale, and most importantly –low prices– to healthcare. The potential is dramatic, especially in the COVID-19 era when Amazon is on offense in general.
Amazon probably has the best shot at moving the needle. That’s because of its global, personalized connection to consumers, its high-speed delivery of packages, its powerful cloud computing unit and the wide variety of medical equipment on its e-commerce platform.
“Everyone in health care is scared of Amazon, and rightly so,” said David Williams, president at Health Business Group, a health care consultant. “Amazon is coming at it from all directions and they have the technology, scale and consumer focus needed to succeed.”
“All these companies will have to figure out how they stay alive,” Williams said.
CareCentrix CEO, John Driscoll and I talk #CareTalk on the road to the HLTH conference in Las Vegas, where we interviewed some big names include Obamacare architect Zeke Emmanuel, Former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt, Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Walmart Health exec Marcus Osborne, and Boston Children’s Chief Innovation Officer John Brownstein.
You can check out the whole series on the YouTube playlist.
Big bad Partners HealthCare plans to take over Rhode Island’s number two player, Care New England. Lifespan, the market leader is trying to keep Partners out by appealing to Rhode Islanders’ resentment of out-of-state players and claiming to have the public interest at heart.
“This is not about Lifespan,” [Lifespan’s CEO Dr. Timothy] Babineau said in an interview. “This is about the future of health care in Rhode Island.”
Actually, Lifespan seems to want to go from being the big fish in a small pond to the only fish, by merging with Care New England and Brown, in a so-called “unified” health system, which is just another word for monopoly.
“Lifespan has correctly identified the threat to themselves — but the idea that that is a threat to the public interest is another matter,” said Williams, president of Health Business Group.
“It’s kind of an obvious move to attack a big company for being from out of state, and [saying] they’re going to hurt our local economy and drive up costs,” Williams said. “Really what’s happening is [Lifespan]
would like to dominate Rhode Island and not have to worry about somebody else.”
PS –It’s kind of funny that the Boston Globe itself has announced its intention to penetrate Rhode Island with more coverage of local matters. Watch out Providence Journal!
My main job is president of Health Business Group, a boutique healthcare strategy consulting firm I founded in 2003. As a sideline, I write the Health Business Blog, where I provide a behind the scenes look at the business of healthcare, featuring my spin on healthcare topics in the news, interviews with entrepreneurs, and policy prescriptions.
Tufts Health Plan CEO Tom Croswell is a veteran of the health plan world. I sat down with him to discuss value based care, collaboration, diversity and how Tufts tries to set itself apart in a crowded market. Tufts is best known for serving Massachusetts but is also expanding into neighboring states. It has a joint venture in New Hampshire and had just announced its entry into Connecticut in partnership with Hartford HealthCare.
The news was full of stories about merger discussions between Partners HealthCare and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. No one denied the reports, so we can assume there was some truth to the rumors. But why would these organizations contemplate a merger and how likely would it be to happen? I compared it to a scene from a Cheech & Chong movie.
A month after Harvard was talking about merging with Partners, the company’s CEO was out. It had something to do with his behavior… Both the Globe and Herald wanted to hear what I had to say about departed CEO, Eric Schultz.
Nurse triage lines have gone through three phases of evolution. In phase 1 they were implemented to ‘check the box’ for member education, phase 2 brought “demand management” to keep patients out of the emergency room, and now in phase 3 health plans are creating a gateway to innovative programs and services.
I discussed these topics with a leading company in the field.
We don’t normally think of Senator John McCain as a healthcare leader, and yet he played a significant role over the years in various policy matters. CareCentrix CEO, John Driscoll and I paid tribute in a short edition of #CareTalk.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) claim to keep drug costs under control, but their convoluted business models and tactics don’t always result in the best deal for employers. Reference based drug pricing is an interesting alternative approach. It’s used for drug cost control in other parts of the world and within the US for things like elective surgery.
“Consumer directed health plans” were all the rage in the mid 2000s. The big idea was that if patients had ‘skin in the game’ in the form of greater financial participation in the cost of their care, they would use their well honed shopping skills to find the best deals and thereby drive costs down and value up. Employers embraced the idea, since it could reduce their costs and keep employees happy.
Healthcare was on the minds of mid-term voters in November. Candidates emphasized healthcare in their campaigns and voters in at least six states had an opportunity to weigh in on healthcare via ballot questions.
Voters were being asked to decide some fairly technical questions, including whether dialysis center profits should be capped in California, whether hospitals should have to maintain specific nurse staffing ratios in Massachusetts, and whether Medicaid eligibility should be expanded or current expansions extended in Idaho, Utah, Nebraska and Montana.
In this end-of-2018 edition of #Caretalk, Carecentrix CEO John Driscoll and I banter about Amazon, drug pricing, immigration, home health, Russia, the ACA and more. I wanted to call this episode “If You Want to Destroy my Healthcare” but was told the Weezer reference was too obscure.
The term ‘Medicare for All’ is being bandied about as the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination gets underway. Declared and potential candidates are warming to the idea. It’s easy to see why.
However, I’d much rather see attention turn to continued expansion of Medicaid, specifically by offering people the opportunity to ‘buy-in’ to Medicaid coverage.
Biotech company Agenus is launching a “digital security offering” that will let people invest directly in a single biotech product, rather than the whole company. Jeff Ramson, founder and CEO of strategic communications firm PCG Advisory Group, became fascinated by the concept and reached out to me to discuss it, even though he is not involved in the offering. (And neither am I.)