What Can the Healthcare Segment Learn from the Cable Industry?

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In the recent past, Comcast® and Independence Health Group entered a joint venture named 1819 LLC. While the cable cum best internet provider has won praise for its approach to employee’s healthcare, the venture was an effort to start a digital health company, centered on creating a subscriber-oriented platform that offers telemedicine services and educational content.

A talk at the event MedCity INVEST Twin Cities between the CEO and President of Medical Alley Association, Shaye Mandle, and Comcast® Digital Health’s Chief Medical Advisor and 1819 LLC’s General Manager, Gary Zimmer, shed some light on what the expectation is for the potential of the partnership.

While Zimmer pointed to certain resemblances aligning the two Philadelphia-based companies as big self-funded employers, he said the underlying idea of 1819 LLC was to create healthcare channels that could scale up quickly through their distribution methods. He further added that it was in part born out of a desire from the insurance company to reinvent itself and build on its plan, presence and tie-ups with providers.

According to Zimmer, the market of healthcare insurance has turned into a commodity and healthcare plans are searching for diversified business lines in order to survive and distinguish themselves from rivals. He nodded to the “digital disruption” in the cable segment as an indication of what could possibly happen to the healthcare but added that both transformation paths are still in the early stages.

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“Ultimately I think that end point that will match what has happened in the cable business is when we see a slight shift in the balance of power of where that center of data is and who owns it,” Zimmer said, referring to those who get individual control of health as well as claims data. “All the cable companies realize they’re being threatened like the health insurance companies are. It’s led to a number of different initiatives and a real engine for startups to look at new models to leverage the fact that in the future Comcast® will remain a dominant player in connecting the home to the outside world.”

Besides, those models can pull in Comcast’s production and entertainment division, which owns media properties such as NBCUniversal to create an even broader reach for healthcare initiatives.

Zimmer said his company has already set up a content management system to quickly scale up their library of contents and aggregate them from several sources. He hinted the content would also come from combining the production capabilities of Comcast® with proficiency from healthcare stakeholders. According to Zimmer, the shift in the broadcasting and entertainment segment towards access, accessibility and services on demand, offer another possible learning for the healthcare industry.

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