Earlier this week I heard an interview with Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet made headlines recently by announcing his partnership with the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase and Amazon to create a disruptive solution to the ever-increasing costs of American healthcare.
The initial announcement focused on a solution exclusively for the employees of the three companies. In the recent interview, Buffett expanded that vision by describing a solution that could potentially be embraced by other businesses and organizations.
The possibilities are huge given the current state of healthcare. Buffett compared and contrasted the current scenario with that of 1960. Back then, healthcare accounted for just 5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, or $170 per person per year. Today, healthcare accounts for 18 percent of the GDP – an average of $10,000 per person per year.
Reinventing the Healthcare Industry
This new venture strives to make a dramatic impact on that model. Buffett said they are looking well beyond shaving off 3 or 4 percent, but rather they intend to find ways to reinvent the model of the industry in dramatic and disruptive ways. As I listened to him talk, I couldn’t help but imagine the legacy-making possibilities – not only for its three founders, but for the person they select to lead the charge.
Step one will be finding a CEO to spearhead the venture – someone who is comfortable being a rule breaker while also having a firm grasp on the complexities of healthcare and its payment models. The CEO will need to inspire and drive a big vision, and they will need to stand for that vision in the face of potentially huge dissent. They must have the ability to compel multiple groups to collaborate while being comfortable in all aspects of healthcare, insurance, technology and government legislation. Buffet described how government regulation and legislation currently dictates so much of how the current system works.
Creating a Compelling Healthcare Brand Promise
And if this solution truly intends to disrupt the healthcare industry, the CEO will need expertise in brand strategy in order to create a compelling promise that is differentiated and engaging in an already crowded marketplace. When it comes to healthcare, consumers are more brand-savvy than ever before while also growing weary of dramatically increasing costs with decreasing benefits . They are also much more demanding in their expectations of an ideal healthcare experience. They want options that suit their busy lives, and many would like resources and solutions to help them stay healthy rather than simply treatments for illness or injury.
All of this points to the need for a CEO who is willing to defy conventional wisdom – someone like Steve Jobs, or more recently, Elon Musk. The scope of their accomplishments quickly pale when compared to the immense size and reach of healthcare. I, for one, will be fascinated to watch this venture unfold and to see who steps up to create solutions that we have barely even dreamed of at this point in history.
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