- Insurance executive Dana Gelb Safran, senior vice president of enterprise analytics at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, has been hired by the yet-to-be-named Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-J.P. Morgan joint healthcare venture led by Atul Gawande, according to CNBC.
- Safran, who's been serving as a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission since 2017, specializes in analyzing data to improve health and quality outcomes and lower the cost of care. She will start at the Boston-based health initiative early next year as head of measurement.
- Safran is the first woman hired by Amazon-BH-JPM, and brings the venture's total executive count to at least three, including Gawande and former UnitedHealth and Comcast exec Jack Stoddard, who was tapped as COO in September. The organization's first hire was Martin Levine, a physician who ran Iora Health's Seattle clinics, in January.
The leadership team at the nascent company continues to grow as it plucks high-profile and accomplished healthcare executives straight out of the industry talent pool. Safran's hire not only signals the joint health venture is serious about developing data-driven solutions to healthcare's cost problems, but also suggests Amazon-BH-JPM could be considering taking on commercial insurers.
The hire will only stoke fears felt across the industry as Silicon Valley tech giants continue to scoop up leadership. Earlier this month, Google hired Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg, who made headlines this summer when he turned down an opportunity to work at the Amazon venture.
A Reaction Data survey of health industry leaders published in August found Amazon strides ahead of other tech entrants in perceived healthcare "disruption" potential. Some 75% of CEOs surveyed said the e-commerce behemoth will cause the most market disruption. Apple trailed far behind in that particular survey at 14%, followed by Google, Microsoft and IBM.
Amazon was certainly at top of mind at the U.S. News & World Report Health of Tomorrow conference last week.
There, Providence St. Joseph Health EVP and chief digital officer Aaron Martin, warned attendees that the American healthcare system is in a similar position as the publishing industry was when Amazon disrupted the book value chain in 1997.
Within the past few months, Amazon has announced it would begin selling glucose monitors and blood pressure cuffs direct to consumers, forged a partnership with blockchain platform Ethereum and signed a definitive agreement to acquire online pharmacy PillPack. The company also also recently secured a patent for a feature that would enable its voice assistant Alexa to detect when a user is feeling ill and recommend an OTC remedy.