Can healthcare be fixed?

Three years ago the chief executives of Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway announced they had set out to jump the monumental hurdle of ‘disrupting healthcare’ by launching Haven, an initiative to cut healthcare costs and improve access to healthcare for their employees. Hopes rested on the project ultimately serving as a model for innovative healthcare reform in the private sector.

This month Haven, now established as a nonprofit with 57 employees in the Boston area, announced it would shut its doors in February, having disrupted very little in the $4 trillion healthcare industry in its three-year tenure.

If three titans of industry could not drive innovation in our healthcare system, can anyone? Some in the healthcare industry are asking if Haven’s failure is a harbinger of failure for those who seek to find and cultivate innovative solutions in healthcare. As someone deeply entrenched in the race to find healthcare solutions, I believe Haven’s failure to jump this hurdle reflects the limitations of the jumper, rather than the insurmountable nature of the hurdle itself.

As the corporate development director at Healthworx, CareFirst’s innovation and investment arm, I am intimately familiar with the complex challenges our healthcare system faces. These challenges are by no means small or insignificant. But I believe Haven, a three-sided consortium of varying interests in diverse industries left little room for Haven to innovate.

The project was hampered at its inception particularly because one party, Amazon, had already advanced its own forays into primary-care and pharmacy solutions. While these programs may have preliminarily shown promise in meeting Amazon’s needs, these solutions produced vastly different outcomes in different corporate environments, resulting in disagreements over the endeavor’s fundamental direction forward. Those of us observing in the healthcare arena witnessed Haven’s efforts to squeeze Amazon’s piloted solutions into other companies’ plans – and meet considerable resistance. 

There are lessons to be learned from this experiment. The first is that unilaterally eliminating customization, an idea that seems so appealing because it immediately cuts costs, does not produce an easy, uncomplicated solution in practice. 

Innovation must be led by consumer demand, which varies widely. Unsurprisingly, employers want tailored solutions and plans for their employees, and employees want as much autonomy as possible in their healthcare decisions. The right balance of quality and customization differs across company size, outlook, industry and, especially, by region. 

My work has offered me a glimpse into possible future trajectories for healthcare solutions. From this vantage point we can already see that partnerships and collaborations with traditional and non-traditional companies will be critical to improving our nation’s healthcare and delivering on our goals of affordability and improved outcomes. 

Regional coalitions have been forming, and seeing success, using volume to leverage contracts and pricing structures that fit their needs. We have seen how partner selection and alignment with clear objectives upfront factor into the success of those partnerships, and, in Haven’s situation, how these factors can hamper progress when they are misaligned. 

Although the healthcare industry is facing its most challenging test yet with the coronavirus pandemic, innovation in healthcare is an achievable goal in the foreseeable future. I see workable, innovative ideas that challenge the status quo every day, and am in the fortunate position to help move these ideas to fruition. 

By lighting a fire under all the major players in healthcare, Haven may have spurred innovation after all, just not in the way its founders anticipated. Haven will be remembered for the splash it created when it entered the pool. The endeavor pushed traditional healthcare stakeholders to act and spurred increased investment in new models. It never found the magic pill to cure healthcare’s ailment, but it did help clarify the futility of the magic-pill fantasy and sparked an industry-wide call to action.

Internet Privacy Policy

CareFirst Holdings, LLC and its affiliated companies (CareFirst) have policies and procedures to protect the confidentiality of customer and partner information. Below are general guidelines for how we handle your information. It is important to note that all records containing confidential data are handled and discarded in a way that is designed to protect the privacy and security of the information.

How We Secure Your Personal Information

CareFirst respects the need for security regarding your personal information. Whenever you provide personal information, your information will be protected using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. SSL is an industry standard that encrypts the information you provide, to avoid the decoding of that information by anyone other than CareFirst. This technology, however, does not absolutely guarantee the total privacy of information that has been provided to this site.

Information you submit directly to us will remain on our servers or those of our affiliates, secured by various industry approved technologies to prevent unauthorized access to your personal information.

Access to Our Site

If you are using our site from locations such as your place of employment, you may run into problems with firewalls that the system owner has established for security reasons. If this is the case, you may need to complete the information from your home computer where you can control your security settings.


Like most commercial websites, we use cookies and other technologies to enhance your online experience and to learn about how you use our website so that we can improve the quality of our services. Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that we transfer to your computer through your web browser to enable our systems to recognize your browser.


Our cookies will not provide any personally identifiable information about you and do not allow us to gain access to other information on your computer.

Information We Collect

We receive and store certain types of information whenever you visit our site.

CareFirst’s servers automatically record information including your domain name, the IP address from which you entered our site, your browser type and language, the pages you visit on our site, and the date and time of your request.

We do not collect any information that can reveal your personal identity unless you voluntarily provide it, for example when you register for or login to a specific feature of our site.

You may decline to provide personal information to us, block pop-ups and/or refuse cookies in your browser. However, this may result in some of our features or services not functioning properly.

How We Use Your Information

Personally-identifiable information you give us will be used only to provide the service or information you have requested.

We do not sell information about you to any third party and we do not share it with third parties unless it is necessary to complete a request you have made, process a transaction for you, or to comply with the law.

We won't send you any unsolicited e-mail ("spam").

We may combine personal information collected from you with information from other CareFirst services or third parties to provide a better user experience, including customizing content for you.

Links to Other Sites

CareFirst may provide links to other websites not owned or controlled by CareFirst that might be useful or of interest to you. The privacy policy of that site may differ from CareFirst’s. Please review the privacy policy of any site before providing any personal information.

Links to other non-CareFirst websites do not constitute or imply endorsement by CareFirst of the websites, material, products or services described on those sites.

Not Medical Advice

The content on our site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Seek the advice of your physician with any questions you have about a medical condition.