Investors just ponied up well over $100 billion for a piece of the social media giant Facebook. While Mr. Zuckerberg and his co-founders deserve a hearty congratulations, I find some eerie parallels between Facebook and accountable care organizations. The similarity does not bode well for either business model.
1. The users are not the customers: Facebook sells its users to marketeers. ACOs sells its patients’ health care utilization to insurers.
2. It’s the data and it’s not yours: Facebook’s targeted ads are constructed off of prior usage patterns. ACO’s shared savings calculations are built off off actuarially determined health care utilization patterns.
3. Sovereign hostility: Washington DC views information technology and health care as distractions from the true task at hand: restoring the U.S. manufacturing base.
4. Do you care, really? Now that the wunderkids in charge of Facebook have made their millions, it remains to be seen if they’ll work as hard in delivering value to its users. Ditto for all the salaried docs working for ACOs, who no longer have to arrive early, skip lunch and stay late.
5. The long term: Yahoo once was the darling of internet investors. Even if ACOs have initial success, is a better care model being developed as you are reading this?