Payers

Report: Anthem nabs Google, Amazon vet as head of its new AI group

Most recently, Udi Manber has served as a healthcare researcher and faculty member at the National Institutes of Health and at UC San Francisco.

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Indianapolis, Indiana-based health insurer Anthem has scored a major coup in convincing a long time tech leader to join as the head of its AI operations.

According to a report from CNBC, Udi Manber, the former head of engineering for Google’s core search products had joined Anthem as its top AI executive, an indication of the health insurer’s growing interest in the space.

Anthem has conducted early experiments in AI through partnerships with startups like Doc.Ai and increasing investment in technology from vendors like IBM.  The company also tapped talent from the retail industry to help build out its data science and data analytics ranks.

Manber, who will be responsible for building out an engineering team at Anthem, has had a storied career in the technology industry even before his time at Google, serving as an academic at the University of Arizona, the chief scientist at Yahoo! and chief algorithms officer for Amazon. 

Most recently, Manber has served as a healthcare researcher and faculty member at the National Institutes of Health and at UC San Francisco.

“Improving access to medical knowledge can have a big impact. I hope to help,” he said of his decision to leave Google and enter the healthcare field in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Manber is not alone in making the jump from technology into the health insurance industry.

Another example is Kerrie Holley, who prior to his current position at Optum, the data science and analytics arm of UnitedHealth Group, worked for three decades in senior leadership positions at IBM and Cisco.

In an interview earlier this year with MedCity News, Holley laid out the company’s larger ambitions in merging prescriptions, claims and clinician, behavioral data to boost health outcomes and smooth over care gaps.

One major barrier for these companies will continue to be public opinion on the use of big data analytics tech in use of healthcare and the lack of trust in traditional health insurers as evidenced by the industry’s bottom of the barrel Net Promoter Scores.

A recent survey from LendEdu found that 72 percent of respondents believe that insurance companies should not be allowed to use big data to determine risk for insurance policies.

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