News the chief operating officer at Haven — the healthcare venture created by Amazon, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co — is leaving comes as Walmart establishes itself as an entrepreneurial provider of employee health benefits.
CNBC reported that Haven chief operating officer Jack Stoddard is leaving after “just nine months into his new role.” Stoddard was a digital health advisor at Comcast for 10 months, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is leaving Haven “for personal reasons,” the CNBC report said.
Some medical care providers say Haven has been talking about them off and on over the last year about certain relationships. Haven couldn’t be reached for comment Friday about the status of its efforts.
Little has been disclosed by Haven or its owner companies since the highly-publicized January of 2018 announcement of the partnership to fix healthcare for their employees.
Meanwhile, rival retail giant Walmart has been forming partnerships with medical care providers for years now. And drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance have announced several pilots, tests and programs with health insurers and providers for their customers and workers.
But some see Walmart’s Centers of Excellence program as a potential model that could be followed by the Haven venture for employees at Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan Chase to improve healthcare and reduce costs for their more than 1 million employees.
Earlier this year, Walmart added Ochsner Health System to its growing list of “Centers of Excellence” looking to the New Orleans medical care provider for knee and hip replacement surgeries for its workers. The health system’s flagship facility, Ochsner Medical Center serves “Walmart associates from across the nation in need of hip and knee replacement surgery, effective immediately,” Ochsner said in February.
The program for lower joint replacement surgery is the latest effort by Walmart to strengthen its relationships with some of the country’s best-known healthcare systems as a way to improve healthcare and reduce costs for its more than 1 million employees.
The Centers of Excellence strategy from Walmart for their employees could also be a test for what the retailer eventually offers to the public at large. Walmart’s Centers of Excellence program also offers the retailer’s workers specialized treatments for cancer, organ transplantation, spine and heart surgeries at 15 sites across the country.
Under Walmart’s Centers of Excellence Program, Walmart sends patients to designated sites to better ensure patients are getting evaluated to make sure they actually need care. And if they do need treatment, the Centers of Excellence are supposed to make sure its done right the first time to improve quality and keep the employee healthy and working.
“We currently have 14 COEs and are talking to new health systems all the time,” a Walmart spokesman confirmed.
And just this week, Walmart announced a new partnership with Covera Health to help employees “avoid misguided and unnecessary treatment based on inaccurate radiology diagnoses.”
“The goal of our benefit plans is to provide our associates and their family members with access to high-quality health care to ensure they receive the right care at the right time,” Walmart senior director of benefits design and strategy Lisa Woods said. “A quality MRI or CT scan can improve the accuracy of the diagnosis early in the care journey, helping create the correct treatment plan with the best opportunity for recovery.”