Health insurance isn't exactly known for its consumer-friendliness. But Anthem, one of the largest insurers, is looking to change that with a slew of recent hires from the company best known for its commitment to user-friendly design: Apple.
In Silicon Valley, technology companies like Apple and Alphabet are increasingly trying to bring their technology to the health sector and are building out dedicated teams of medical experts. They're chasing a $3.5 trillion market that's been slow to adapt and change, believing that their expertise in user-friendly design can help improve the experience for consumers. Traditional health companies, like insurers and hospitals, are reacting by partnering with tech giants but are also adapting their own offerings and touting their digital friendliness.
In the past few months, Anthem has hired Warris Bokhari from Apple Health, as well as Toni Trujillo Vian (a 24-year Apple vet), and senior machine learning researcher Stefanos Giampanis, according to LinkedIn and two people familiar with the matter.
The health insurer also hired Ted Goldstein, a former Apple vice president from 2002 to 2007, to run its AI and health data efforts, about six months ago, and some lower-level folks like Berick Bacani, a former Apple operations specialist, as a UX designer on the digital team.
The focus on hiring from Apple dates back a few years: Anthem's vice president of commercial Aneesh Kumar, who has been at the company for a few years started his career in the 1990s as a product manager at Apple. And Rajeev Ronanki, the company's chief digital officer, previously worked at the consulting firm Deloitte on health innovation-related projects.
It's not just Apple employees migrating over to Anthem. Another high-profile recruit from the technology world is Udi Manber, who previously headed up Google's search efforts and is now a technical advisor at Anthem.
As Anthem scoops up talent from Apple and other tech companies, Apple has been recruiting heavily from the medical sector.
Scattered across its health teams, Apple has installed dozens of doctors to offer advice and steer product decisions. It's currently focusing on aggregating clinical information via Health Records, developing biosensors for the Apple Watch, and health apps for things like reproductive health and sleep monitoring.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said that he believes the company's "greatest contribution to mankind" will be its efforts in health. The health team currently reports to Apple COO Jeff Williams, who has a strong personal interest in the sector.
Meanwhile, Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux has emphasized the company's continued investment in its digital offerings, including putting budget behind its consumer tech and artificial intelligence teams.
The company is working on a number of different tech projects, such as a partnership with the health-tech start-up Doc.ai to detect allergy patterns, and Act Wise, a website for health plans to better manage their employees' medical benefits.
Anthem competitor UnitedHealth has also touted its commitment to digital technology. It has a "consumer digital health platform" called Rally, and one team there focuses on providing rewards for people who meet their health goals. Aetna, another health insurer owned by CVS, is working with Apple on an effort to reward members for meeting health-related milestones via their Apple Watch.
Anthem and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.