Google's sister-company Verily to tackle health insurance

Verily, the life sciences unit owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, has been in talks with insurers about jointly bidding for contracts in which it would take on risk for hundreds of thousands of patients, according to CNBC.

This sector, commonly referred to as population health or care management, is hard to break into. For one, it's crowded. And, Verily would also have to put forth a convincing proposal to payers describing how it would drive their costs down.

Technology companies are increasingly attracted to taking on risk, since it primarily involves organizing health data without developing an insurance company. One possibility, according to CNBC, could involve Verily analyzing health data to determine which patients would benefit most from certain types of care, like home monitoring or prescription adherence. This gig makes up about $20 billion to $25 billion in annual spending with a potential of up to $1 trillion as more insurers move to these kind of risk-based agreements, Ari Gottlieb, a director at PwC, told CNBC.

Verily has some healthcare-related partnerships with 3M, Sanofi and Dexcom, but now, it's looking to hire people with a health insurance and services background. It's already tapped a couple experts, but it is still looking to fill posts like a "physician lead" with experience managing "risk for patient populations," and a "managed care analytics lead" to "manage risk for patient populations," according to CNBC.

Moreover, Verily has access to a plethora of data. Through its Project Baseline clinical research study, the Alphabet-spinout has been collecting a huge amount of patient health information. Another Alphabet company, Sidewalk Labs, and its startup, Cityblock, is looking to revolutionize healthcare for low-income communities.

Tackling healthcare spending, especially risk-based agreements, won't be easy, but Verily may be well poised for success.

More articles on payer issues:
35.8% of Americans would use an Amazon health insurance plan
Aetna CEO: CVS deal will open '10,000 new front doors to the healthcare system'
Anthem cancels 25% cuts on some same-day services: 3 things to know

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