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A Haven No More

Haven was a high-profile effort whereby three industry titans–Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan–created a joint venture with the hope of lower costs and improving quality. Today, Haven announced it is shutting down in February. What happened?

I don’t know the answer, but below are a few possibilities.

  • Scale. Although these are three large companies, within the grand scale of health care, they are relatively small. They may not have had sufficient purchasing power to negotiate better rates with providers.
  • Tech fail. Sure Amazon is a tech leader, but its not enough for Haven to have good technology. It must insure that it’s partners and providers use the technology and it integrates with existing systems. Not an easy task.
  • Conflicts of interest. All 3 companies have their own employees and purchase care for them, but each of them likely also have health care companies they at they invest in, provide finance for, or compete with. Thus, not all companies may be aligned.
  • Changing health care is hard. Although Haven hired an all star cast of leaders, health reform is incredibly difficult with a number of interconnected pieces and many established interests.
  • Collaboration isn’t easy. These are three big companies with very different cultures and perhaps different objectives of what they wanted to get out of it. Erin Brodin of StatNews argues that Amazon may be a big winner as it has already created Amazon Care, they have a a wearable health tracker (Halo), and bought PillPack and now have Amazon pharmacy. Perhaps Amazon was best able to leverage the collaboration for their own purposes. CNBC reports:

One key issue facing Haven was that while the firm came up with ideas, each of the three founding companies executed their own projects separately with their own employees, obviating the need for the joint venture to begin with…

Although Haven did not succeed, the leaders of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan should be commended for funding an initiative. Although many will fail, more such initiatives are needed.