Kaiser v Google

In 2013 New York Times ran an seemingly glowing profile of Kaiser. But when we read it more carefully, the following tension jumped out at us:

  • Kaiser invested $30 billion (with a B) over 10 years on information technology; yet

  • “They have not translated some of their strengths into better prices,” said David Lansky, the president and chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents employers on the West Coast, many of whom purchase coverage from Kaiser for their workers.


Isn't something very wrong if a company invests $30 billion in information technology over a decade and doesn't fundamentally outperform its competitors?

Compare this to Google which reportedly needed $25 million to go from start-up to IPO and fundamentally changes how humans access information and along the way remade advertising. Before long it would reinvent mapping and navigation, reorganize libraries, remake email and move our documents to the cloud.

How can one team (Google) with a relatively small amount of capital do so much and another with so much (Kaiser's $30B and 10 years) do relatively so little?.

Imagine the Kaiser team and the Google team sitting around their respective conference tables.

The Kaiser team is asking small-bore, mundane questions like "how do we decrease readmission rates by 3%?", "how do we move more customer support from phone-based to email?", "how do we make our operating rooms 5% more productive?".

Then see the Google team asking cosmic questions: "what if humans issued all commands with voice or even thoughts rather than fingers", "how will humans interact with other humans after phones?", "what if all the world's information wasn't just available but instantly usable?", "what if all humans used a common language?"

We are what we ask.

Read: The Face of Future Health Care | NY Times | March 21, 2013

Read: The History of Google

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