Partner with – don’t fear – new healthcare players, says Anthem CEO

Key Takeaway: Anthem is innovating through partnerships including one for blockchain technology to improve data sharing.

Gail Boudreaux, CEO, Anthem Inc.

Few recent developments have caused more shockwaves in the healthcare industry than the joint venture between Amazon, JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway announced last year (and recently christened Haven). The venture’s sheer size, and Amazon’s tendency to dominate any sphere it enters, has many healthcare companies on edge. But don’t be afraid, said Gail Boudreaux, CEO of Anthem, Inc.

“We shouldn’t fear new interests. They should embolden us to be better,” Boudreaux said in a conversation at Health Evolution Summit with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Founder of Consonance Capital and former Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy under President Obama.

Partnerships play a big role in Boudreaux’s vision for Anthem.  “We want partners who can integrate. We don’t want to have partners who are going to solve a small piece of the puzzle because I think in the end, no one is solving the whole outcome,” said Boudreaux, who was named the fifth most powerful woman in business by Fortune Magazine for 2018, one rank ahead of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“I look at the shifting dynamics and I believe that they create unique opportunities for partnerships,” she said.

One of those dynamic areas is blockchain technology. Anthem is partnering with IBM, PNC Bank, and other health care payers. She explained that it is hard to share data in health care due to questions around ownership and privacy protections.

Gail shared that blockchain technology will afford the opportunity to share using cryptography, so that different parties get access only to the information they need, and larger data files are protected.

She believes it’s an example of a technology that shouldn’t be a competitive advantage for any enterprise.

“It should be a way to open up the aperture for competitive advantages for all of us,” she said.”We’ll be able to share the right data at the right time and not worry about who owns my data and how do I commercialize it against you.  None of us can own the entire ecosystem of health care.”

Boudreaux is encouraged by the growth in membership and high retention rates in Anthem’s Medicare Advantage plans. Just a few years after entering the market, Anthem has over a million members enrolled.

“This is one place in healthcare where there’s true alignment between the payers, the care practitioners and the consumers. If you’re on Medicare and you’re a senior and you have multiple conditions, it’s highly unlikely you’re getting the kind of coordinated care you’re getting in Medicare Advantage.”

As an example, she described the coordinated care given to members with congestive heart failure in Anthem’s CareMore integrated system.

‘We  know every morning if they’re gaining weight and someone is reaching out and a pharmacist is looking at their medications. To me that’s an incredible example of when the system works and the incentives are aligned.”

 – Gus Venditto