Last month, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced they were teaming up to launch a venture aimed at providing better, more cost-effective healthcare to their employees.

And then last week, it was reported that Apple is launching AC Wellness, “an independent medical practice dedicated to delivering compassionate, effective healthcare to the Apple employee population.”

Combined, the four companies have over a million employees and are thus exposed to the rising costs of healthcare that have been plaguing the United States for years. Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest people and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, didn't mince words when discussing the cost of healthcare: “the ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” 

Detailed information about how these initiatives will function is limited, but what is known is that both will rely heavily on technology.

The press release announcing the Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan venture stated “the initial focus of the new company will be on technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.” A website for AC Wellness reveals “AC Wellness Network believes that having trusting, accessible relationships with our patients, enabled by technology, promotes high-quality care and a unique patient experience.”

An imperative for pharma and medical device companies

While it's too early to speculate about the impact these employer-sponsored initiatives will have on the broader healthcare market, it's not too early for pharma and medical device companies to start thinking about how these tech-focused initiatives will affect their businesses.

Specifically, as employers seek to improve the quality of care their employees receive while at the same time reducing costs, pharma and medical device companies should consider that their opportunity to participate in these ventures could very well be based on the digital and technology assets they develop:

Information

According to Deloitte Consulting and the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), 84% of physicians say that that efficacy and outcome data, as well as clinical guidelines, influence their drug utilization decisions. 65% of physicians are interested in interacting with pharma around this type of content, which could include clinical trial data, updates on new studies and comparative effectiveness information.

The implication is clear: pharmas with a large bank of content will be increasingly attractive partners.

Data

For obvious reasons, data is one of the most valuable assets, if not the most valuable asset, in healthcare today. Pharma and medical device companies that are well-positioned to generate and share data, as well as to consume and analyze it, will likely have significant advantages in forging relationships with employer-sponsored healthcare ventures.

Platforms

It is likely that employer-sponsored healthcare ventures will employ existing or new technology platforms. Pharma and medical device companies should be prepared to integrate with them.

The good news is that many pharma and medical device companies have already started investing in the above and as more and more employers launch their own healthcare initiatives, pharmas and medical device manufacturers will find that they have new opportunities to make their investments pay. 

To learn more about digital transformation in Pharma, join us at ePharma in New York on March 21-23. Our VP of Research Stefan Tornquist will be discussing the future of digital and marketing with Anthony Lambrou, Director of Corporate Strategy and Innovation at Pfizer, as well as hosting a roundtable for you to learn, share and connect with fellow pharma marketers. Find out more and secure your spot:

Patricio Robles

Published 12 March, 2018 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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