Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan have appointed a corporate executive experienced in healthcare administration to help manage their joint venture.
The joint employee healthcare platform announced earlier this year by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase recently took another step forward. Experienced healthcare executive Jack Stoddard has been tapped for the role of COO by the venture’s CEO, Dr. Atul Gawande.
In launching the healthcare company, the three corporations hope to reduce costs for their 1 million-plus employee base. When Dr. Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School, was appointed in July, observers noted his extensive medical knowledge, but also acknowledged his lack of experience in the corporate world. With Stoddard’s appointment, Dr. Gawande has added a seasoned professional who has worked for several companies in the healthcare field.
An Extensive Track Record
Prior to his appointment, Stoddard served as general manager for digital health at Comcast. His background also includes a stint as one of the founders of a Comcast-backed startup known as Accolade, which was formed to help employees manage their health benefits.
Stoddard was also involved in the development of claims-processing platform Optum, which was later acquired by UnitedHealth Group where he worked for four years. From 2008 to 2009, he was senior vice president of Optum International in London.
On his LinkedIn page, Stoddard describes himself as an expert in using “technology, data, science, people, and design thinking” to improve healthcare delivery and quality and lower costs. Judging by his background, Stoddard will likely make use of Amazon’s technological expertise to accomplish that goal, especially when it comes to data management.
Building from the Ground Up
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase have been light on the details regarding their joint venture, except to say it “would be free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” JPMorgan Chase head Jamie Dimon has reportedly said the company will likely start small.
Given the size of its potential membership, the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase insurance plan would be comparable to a small national carrier or a large regional insurer — at least in the beginning. If the venture grows and finds more partners, it may be able to get a stronger hand in price negotiations.
Leaders from the other partner companies emphasized they’re in no rush to get the healthcare platform off the ground. “We’re not in a hurry,” Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett told Bloomberg TV. “We’d like to be in a hurry but we’re not going to try and do something faster than it can be done.”
Of the three partners, Amazon’s role in this new healthcare operation has garnered the most attention. This is likely because the e-commerce giant has sent strong signals that it wants to be a major player in the insurance industry as a whole.
The New York Times has even reported that Amazon obtained wholesale pharmacy licenses in roughly a dozen states — an indication that it intends to enter the online prescription benefit business. It took another move in that direction in June when it acquired medication delivery service PillPack.Healthcare isn’t the only area of insurance Amazon appears interested in: reports have surfaced that the online marketplace is also contemplating selling homeowners insurance. However its venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase develops, Amazon’s influence will likely be a driving force in the operation.