A three-way partnership between Amazon.com Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. has been the talk of the healthcare industry, though the companies themselves have said precious little about it.
That changed Thursday morning, when JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon laid out some of his ambitions for the venture in his annual letter to the bank’s shareholders, months after its January launch. Notably, Dimon said that the companies would be updating investors on their progress in “coming years,” suggesting a long timeline for the closely watched endeavor.
“The effort will start very small, but there is much to do, and we are optimistic,” Dimon wrote. “We will be hiring a strong management team to start working on some of these critical problems and issues.”
Among the goals: aligning incentives among doctors, insurers and patients; reducing fraud and waste; giving employees more access to telemedicine and better wellness programs; and figuring out why so much money is spent on end-of-life care.
“We will be using top management, big data, virtual technology, better customer engagement and the improved creation of customer choice,” Dimon said.
He repeated his view that requiring workers to pay more of the cost of their care up front hasn’t helped, writing “high deductibles have barely worked.”
Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett didn’t mention the health venture in his annual dispatch to shareholders in February; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hasn’t yet published his yearly letter, which typically arrives in April. The companies’ January 30 announcement of the JV was short on detail.
Buffett’s most expansive remarks on his plans came in an interview on CNBC in February. He said that a goal of the venture is to stop health care from consuming an increasing portion of the U.S. economy, and that he hopes to find a way to deliver better care at a lower cost. Like Dimon, Buffett cautioned that making any progress will take time.
“I’m hopeful but don’t expect any miracles out of us soon,” said Buffett. “This is not easy. If it was easy, it would have been done.”
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