Morgan Stanley hires chief medical officer, joining employer healthcare revolt

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Morgan Stanley is joining the growing group of employers making significant moves to take healthcare into their own hands.

The investment bank has hired a chief medical officer to help tackle rising healthcare costs and improve employee wellness, Business Insider reported Tuesday.

David Stark will serve as the company’s first chief medical officer, as well as its head of HR data and analytics. Stark was the creator of Lab100, a futuristic clinic built in partnership with Mount Sinai, and was an assistant professor at the health system’s Icahn School of Medicine.

“We created this new role uniting HR data and analytics with the role of chief medical officer in order to foster innovation in employee wellness and healthcare coverage,” Jeff Brodsky, chief human resources officer at Morgan Stanley, said in an emailed statement to EBN. “Harnessing our HR data, we can achieve better wellness for our employees and address rising healthcare costs.”

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The Morgan Stanley headquarters building in New York's Times Square is seen Wednesday, June 22, 2005. Morgan Stanley, which is searching for a new chief executive officer to replace Philip Purcell, said quarterly profit fell 24 percent because of a drop in trading revenue and increased legal expenses. Photographer: Adam Rountree/ Bloomberg News.

Stark, meanwhile, said the new role brings "a unique opportunity to leverage data and technology to unlock value-based care for our employees while also generating data-driven insights to better support our workforce."

It’s the latest move by employers to take control of a healthcare system they see as wasteful and inefficient. A report out this week from consulting firm Mercer found that that most employers spend about $13,000 per employee on health insurance.

Earlier this year, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway made industry waves when they announced the creation of an independent healthcare company for their U.S.-based employees and their families. The group tapped Atul Gawande — a surgeon and primary care advocate who regularly has spoken about the importance of “regular, ongoing care” — as its new CEO.

A number of other employers have announced big benefits initiatives in the past year, from banding together — the National Business Group on Health announced this summer its new initiative joining 20 major employers to work together to bolster employee engagement in benefits — to contracting directly with providers to deliver care.

GM in August inked a deal with Detroit-based hospital system Henry Ford Health System to provide a new direct-to-employer healthcare option to 24,000 of its salaried employees and their dependents in Southeast Michigan. The agreement — which will require GM employees who choose the plan to get all of their healthcare and wellness services, including surgeries, through the Henry Ford Health System or face expensive out-of-network rates — is a strategy that is being embraced by employers as they try to reduce employee healthcare costs and improve care by bypassing traditional insurers.

Amazon, Apple and a slew of other employers also are turning to onsite and near-site clinics, which have become an important focus for employers trying to help employees get the right care and move the bar on wellness.

“Employers taking healthcare into their own hands is the most meaningful way we can change healthcare in this country,” says Bret Jackson, president of The Economic Alliance for Michigan, a member of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.

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