Haven’s Heathcare Ambitions Come to a Fast End

• Haven was founded to address the problem of escalating healthcare costs

• From the beginning, critics questioned exactly how Haven would tackle that issue

Because of both the collective power of its backers and Amazon’s gift for commercializing services and revolutionizing delivery models, hopes were high that Haven could tackle arguably the thorniest problem in healthcare: out of control costs.

However, from the beginning questions loomed regarding how Haven would accomplish that. Amazon and its partners offered only minimal detail about the “independent” healthcare concern they were creating beyond the notion that the triumvirate were pooling resources to focus on creating technology solutions to “provide US employees and their families with simplified, high-quality, and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.”

With healthcare comprising approximately 18 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the time and growing, lowering related costs was an admirable if vague goal. Now two years later that lack of clear objective combined with the outsized scope of the healthcare cost challenge seems to have sunk the venture.

There were other issues that also may have sealed Haven’s fate from the start. Even with 1.2 million combined employees, Amazon and its partners lacked the collective buying power to significantly change the healthcare cost calculus. The triumvirate appointed Dr. Atul Gawande, a noted surgeon, author, and Harvard professor who had never led such a major corporate effort. Gawande left Haven in May 2020.

Also product development conflicts arose between Haven and Amazon with both entities developing similar and thus potentially competing telehealth initiatives. Reports surfaced that Haven was in the dark about the telemedicine work Amazon was doing independently.

And with the global pandemic continuing to rage on shifting healthcare investment priorities elsewhere may have been the final nail in Haven’s coffin. In the joint statement announcing the end of Haven’s operations, its founders said they applied learnings from Haven and “continue to collaborate informally to design programs tailored to address the specific needs” of their individual employee populations.

 

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