Can Haven succeed?
What are some of the underlying causes of Haven’s failures thus far? Before I start sharing my thoughts I’d like to share that I am not now, nor ever been any of the following things:
- CEO of a multiple billion-dollar enterprise
- A doctor
- A graduate of Harvard, Stanford, MIT, or Wharton
With that disclosure, I offer these three potential causes for Haven’s underwhelming performance:
- While an amazing academic, physician and human, Dr. Gawande had little no experience starting or running a business of this size or scope.
- Many of the hires were “high-profile” individuals and/or people attached to household brands.
- A seemingly singular focus on big-data.
So let’s dig a little deeper.
Dr. Gawande: When you’re looking for someone to transform something the most successful transformers have been (a) actual transformers like Optimus Prime or (b) people who are skilled at abstract critical thinking. People like this imagine what could be, which, is very different than what can be. At 54 (and yes, I’m 51 so we’re of the same generation), Dr. Gawande was raised in a medical system and practiced/taught in that system for nearly three decades. Is he smart? Yes. Talented? Yes. Visionary? Seemingly not as much as we might have thought, but can we blame him? He’s a product of his generation and environment. Has he spent a career being different or a career doing great work within the system? I propose its the latter.
Haven Leaders: One of the key hires mentioned in the article from Healthcare IT News was Dana Gelb Safran, head of measurement. She came from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. While some Blues plans are better than others in terms of innovation, most are not generally considered to be inherently disruptive. After all, it’s not in the interest of an insurer to disrupt a market as that creates additional risk and they are risk managers.
Ms. Safran spent 13 years at BCBSMA during which time she was successful by all internal and external measurements but, she was successful within the Blue context. Could she be successful outside of that context? It would seem not as successful as the JV would like yet.
Big-Data: Who doesn’t love big-data? Investors sure do and it has proven to be able to solve all manner of problems. That said, data is data, and information and knowledge are different. In order to develop actionable intelligence from data, you need to have a solid strategic framework and vision for not only the problems and unanswered questions but what the playing field looks like. For this reason, I suspect that the application of big-data was hamstrung by the lens brought to the table by the principles involved.
So what’s the solution?
With the resources available to Haven, and the proven disruptors in the marketplace already, I feel that there is a path forward for them but it’s not likely to be led by a group of all-stars but rather by a group of relatively unknown healthcare dissidents who challenge the status quo in U.S. healthcare.
As always, I look forward to your comments.