NEW YORK – When Adam Fawer, COO and CFO at online health coaching platform provider Noom Inc., heard the announcement earlier this month that Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway were partnering to form a new nonprofit health care company, he welcomed the news.
“There are so many health care devices, wearables and other technologies out there, so I imagine everyone using their own home health diagnostic kit to diagnose a health issue, then having their physician instantly prescribe something to treat it and Amazon drops the medication off at the patient’s home,” he said.
HHTN: What signal does the Amazon/JPMorgan Chase/Berkshire Hathaway announcement send?
FAWER: I think this is a big wake up call to the healthcare sector, especially the insurers. It’s going to put pressure on healthcare companies, providers and payers to be more innovative, to start buying (like the CVS/Aetna deal,) and to purchase innovative technology companies. I think this announcement could send them all into a panic. Having a competitor like Amazon will put intense pressure on insurers to innovate quicker and take bigger leaps.
HHTN: What do these companies need to do to make an impact in health care?
FAWER: The players in this deal have said the new company is going to focus on prevention and that’s the No. 1 thing I would work on. I could see them approaching CEOs of other companies to pledge to focus on prevention—if all companies would do that, we’d all save money. There is a huge incentive to improve health outcomes through prevention. I could also imagine this company doing more in telehealth, like lobbying government to improve access to that kind of care and making the old face-to-face model of care antiquated.
HHTN: Are you concerned about how this new company will affect smaller companies, like Noom?
FAWER: I believe they’re going at this with a good heart and it’s actually good for companies like ours and I can imagine more investment in these types of companies, as a result. I can’t think of anything about this that would intimidate us as a company—Amazon would be more likely to purchase a company like ours, not develop something to compete with us.
HHTN: In the context of this announcement, how do you envision home health care in the future?
FAWER: Today, much of medicine takes place face-to-face in the physician’s office. You get treated, you get your paper prescription and bring it to the pharmacy to be filled—this is time-consuming, inefficient and costly. Amazon wants to make everything convenient. There are so many health care devices, wearables and other technologies out there, so I imagine everyone using their own home health diagnostic kit to diagnose a health issue, then having their physician instantly prescribe something to treat it and Amazon drops the medication off at the patient’s home. It will be interesting to see who else will be inspired and step up, as well—maybe someone like Elon Musk or Bill Gates. I think this is the first announcement of what could be many like it.