Jeff Immelt, former CEO of General Electric, announced on LinkedIn that he will be advising Collective Health, a start-up that offers software-driven workforce health management systems. The move comes less than a year since he announced his retirement as president and director of GE’s board and less than six months after becoming chairman of Athenahealth.
In a lengthy posting on his LinkedIn page, Immelt discussed the difficulties of running a large company when healthcare costs can spill into the billions.
“The day I had that realization was the day that employee healthcare became my problem, and solving it became my mission. I made a deliberate decision to master our healthcare investment and choices like I did every other critical area in our business,” he wrote. “When I looked under the hood to figure out how we got to our $3 billion annual spend, I saw massive opportunity to maximize both the value of our investment, and the value that investment created for employees.
“In the absence of an industry-standard benchmark against which we could evaluate ourselves, we created clear metrics for success, a direct line to the team managing healthcare spend, and rigor around the selection and evaluation of healthcare suppliers. The result? A large fiscal line item that had been a virtual black box, as it is for far too many company leaders, became a resounding success.”
Mentioning the initiative formed by JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon, Immelt said CEOs and company executives must play a hands-on role in healthcare.
“Too often, the C-Suite is unknowingly protecting mediocrity and insufficient ROI in employee benefits programs,” he wrote. “By applying the same rigor and focus to this area that you do on other areas of your business, your people and your bottom line will reap the rewards.”