There have been huge shockwaves caused in the health care industry with news that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway & JPMorgan would form an independent health care company for their employees in the United States.
Upon the release of this news, publicly traded health care companies saw their stocks prices drop as the news of new competition entering the health care marketplace has caused major speculation on how these three behemoths’ will take on healthcare.
First between these three companies, there is over 1 million employees and potentially over 3 million people insured. This creates a huge advantage because the three behemoths have their own healthcare claims data. This information is impossible to obtain and they should have years of it along with the technology to analyze it.
With the recent news we are seeing speculations like integrated health records, personalized healthcare recommendations, medical provider reviews, and price transparency. All of these are great and have been around for 10+ years and may reduce costs by 5%.
Another speculation surrounding the news is that the three companies will band together and develop internal medical divisions that treat their employee populations. They recruit the best medical professionals, build facilities, and even develop their own pharmacy & pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). They could develop centers of excellence where complex treatments could be performed and managed more effectively than current options. They would have the ability to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower pricing. Having their own pharmacies & PBM they could reduce RX costs significantly. This speculation would reduce health care cost for their employee and members. This strategy could be developed by a bunch “old guys” crunching numbers who all think alike.
What is the most “outside the box” speculation surrounding this news?
One extreme speculation is that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway & JPMorgan merge to attack the very fundamentals of healthcare. Instead of practicing medicine, the develop process to match your genes with medical treatments. If your genes are known, then it can be determined what medications will work the best in your body. This technique is called ‘Pharmacogenomics’, which is defined as the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs.
If we were to take this a step further, if genetic testing can determine what disease an individual is at high risk for, a regiment of preventive care could be put in place to prevent that disease from ever occurring.
They could even work on developing Artificial intelligence (AI) to help diagnose medical conditions. If a video gaming council can have face recognition, why can’t a camera scan out tonsils and let us know if we have strep throat?
What if you have an integration between pharmacogenomics and prescription drug dispensing?
One of the biggest issues in pharmaceutical industry is the drug dose. If a drug is produced in 200mg but the data of 167mg is going to treat the patient most effectively, why not develop a compounding device that creates the exact dosage for the patient? There’s no telling how much time and resources would something like this save.
The current healthcare environment has been created by the industry players and government regulations. If the mission to completely overhaul the cost, effectiveness, and how we receive healthcare, will current industry leaders be involved with the strategic planning? Is it even possible to overhaul the healthcare system without those leaders being involved? Only time will tell.