Aetna President Karen Lynch runs 95 percent of the company’s core businesses. Since her firm’s novel move, productivity is up 15 percent. Next up? An industry shifting merger with CVS.
Given NewCo Shift Forum’s theme of “Business Must Lead,” it was a pleasure to welcome Karen Lynch, President of healthcare industry leader Aetna to the Forum stage earlier this year. Lynch discusses her company’s decision to raise minimum wages for thousands of its employees, an “ecosystem” approach to the healthcare business, and the role companies must now play in social issues beyond their core stakeholders. Read the full transcript below, or watch the interview, conducted by Makers and Takers author Rana Foroohar.
John Battelle: Please join me in welcoming my friend, Rana Foroohar, who has written extraordinary book about the financialization of the economy in conversation with the president of Aetna, Karen Lynch. Welcome to “Shift Forum.”
A tech giant partners with a bioinformatics pioneer to create an entirely new kind of genetic map.
I believe that all reality is information, and all information creates reality. I am not alone in this belief, but it is nevertheless controversial. Regardless, around this maddening thesis revolves nearly all the intractable problems, paradoxes, and opportunities of modern science, technology, and quite possibly policy and politics. The more we informatize the physical world, the more we can ply its unknown depths.
But there’s so much of it, this information. The recursive joke of an acroamatic god — we understand that information drives everything, but there’s simply too much information to understand. Start with our very minds — comprised of 100 billion neurons connected in no less than 100 trillion paths. Each synaptic firing across one of those hundred-trillion possibilities comprises an informational declaration — and each neuron may fire up to two hundred times a second. Don’t ask me how much potential information that is — I can’t do the damn math.
One of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever read came from Jeff Huber, CEO of Grail Bio (you can read it here). In it he talks about the loss of his wife to cancer, and his frantic search for a cure while she was still alive. Her legacy lives on through Huber’s work at Grail, where he and his team are working to scale a personalized approach to the diagnosis phase of cancer treatment. He returns to that story, and explains Grail’s approach, in this short video from the NewCo Shift Forum. Watch below, or read the text, edited for clarity.
Jeff Huber: Hi. I am Jeff Huber. I’m the founding CEO of Grail. Grail’s mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured. We’ll talk a little bit more maybe of the background or the arc of how Grail got to today, and then where we’re going from here. My background is at Google, and that’s material to Grail’s mission.
After leading the team that saved healthcare.gov, Andy Slavitt took the reins of Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. Trump didn’t invite him back, but NewCo Shift Forum did.
Take one look at Andy Slavitt’s Twitter feed, and you’d think he was still running the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal agency responsible for our government’s trillion-dollar healthcare budget. But Slavitt left when Trump showed up — and since then, healthcare has moved from political football to existential conundrum. Slavitt’s a man on a mission — he’s deeply aware of the intricacies, politics, and human costs of getting healthcare policy right, and he’s mad as hell about where things are headed under the Trump administration. We brought him to the NewCo Shift Forum just two weeks after Trump took office. Below is the video and transcript of his conversation with Dr. Jordan Shlain — edited for clarity.
Jordan Shlain: We’re going to have a little chat with Andy Slavitt. Andy, why don’t you come on up?
As the largest genealogy company in the world, Ancestry has gone through several iterations throughout its 34-year history. The company began its life as a newsletter in 1983, graduating to magazine format in 1994, then launching its .com two years later. Today Ancestry offers ancestryDNA kits, a simple test that analyzes an individual’s DNA in order to provide insight on origin, their ethnic mix, discover distant relatives, and find new details about their unique family history via their large DNA database and many historical records.
As a global leader in family history and consumer genomics, Ancestry has experienced intense growth, partially due to a rapid decrease in costs for genome sequencing. Just 10 years ago, sequencing a genome could cost $10 million, but today that price has dropped to hundreds of dollars. This has allowed Ancestry to offer kits to genotype a customer’s DNA that otherwise would have been cost prohibited just a few years back. Although genotyping a customers DNA isn’t full genome sequencing, the test still offers unprecedent insignts to an individual’s background.
The other day, I got several letters in the mail. One was from the healthcare marketplace, reminding me that enrollment for 2017 coverage begins on November 1st. The rest were medical bills, some of which are about to go to collections, that I can’t pay for. This isn’t new to me. When I first got sick back in 2010, I wasn’t insured at all. I have so much outstanding medical debt that subsequently went to collections that I’ll probably never be able to get loans for school, a house, a car, or anything else. My credit is under 600, and I don’t think it’s ever actually been over 600. I didn’t even have enough time to build credit — I was only 19 years old when I got sick.