John Paczkowski

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Revolution Chairman and CEO Steve Case

Steve Case

It is the largest industry in the country, and almost everyone is unhappy with it.”

–Steve Case comments on the health-care industry in the Washington Post, April 5, 2005

Years after leading America Online into one of the most disastrous mergers of the century with Time Warner, AOL founder Steve Case has reinvented himself, launching Revolution, a new venture he hopes will shake up the health-care and wellness industry. The question is, will it shake things up in the way AOL shook up Time Warner? And what does health care have in common with the Internet, anyway?

  • 3:30 p.m. PDT: Kara’s first question: Where is Web 2.0 right now (and I use that term loosely, because I hate it)? Case says it’s great to see mainstream acceptance of these technologies. The question is how do you take these things to the next level and apply them to other industries, like health care.
  • On AOL: “I’m disappointed that 10 years ago we were in the catbird seat and now, for a variety of reasons, we’ve lost that.” What would he do with AOL today? Case says “to be honest, I don’t care that much. … I closed that chapter years ago.”
  • 3:35 p.m.: Conversation moves to a discussion of Case’s new company, Revolution. Case says he wants to build companies that change the world, iconic companies. He’s not interested in building companies simply to flip them. He wants to build companies that improve industries that are ripe for disruption, what he calls philanthropic companies.
  • 3:40 p.m. Why health care? Case says it’s a mix. “Personal experience and also the recognition that this is an industry that needs change. … People feel they are not in control of their health–they feel disenfranchised. … So we said let’s bring a fresh perspective to this and build companies that empower consumers to take charge of their health.” Case says health care needs to become more of a retail business. Revolution is apparently supporting what amounts to a collection of retail health clinics. In a nutshell, Case says basic health care should be as accessible as Starbucks.
  • 3:45 p.m. Case says Revolution will offer packaged, relevant health-care information online. There’s also a community function, he notes, as well as a records-storage issue. People can store their medical records electronically at Revolution. Kara notes that the latter is an idea that seems rife with privacy implications: Will consumers actually trust Revolution with their medical records?
  • 3:50 p.m. Kara wonders how the medical community feels about Revolution’s plans to allow people to rate doctors and other health-care providers. Case admits it’s a concern, but one that’s far outweighed by the consumer’s need for a personalized approach to medicine. Case envisions a future world in which we manage our health information like a stock portfolio.
  • 3:55 p.m. In Revolution’s early days, Case says, the goal is to provide a brand of coverage that is characterized by fresh thinking and ideas.
  • 4 p.m. Q&A:
  • What about Revolution developing a kind of “concierge” health service, with plans tailored to individuals? Case says that Revolution will help consumers with insurance companies, dealing with claims and so forth, while keeping mechanisms in place to protect privacy.
  • 4:05 p.m.Revolution will also help people choose doctors, Case says, noting that the way most people pick doctors is completely haphazard. “We’re trying to figure out ways to move the system forward,” he says.
  • Case closes by coming back to a common theme: “You’ve got to have a more holistic way of considering health.”

Steve Case Session Photos

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Steve Case and Kara Swisher at D5

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