Merck's ex-innovation chief Jain heads to Anthem subsidiary CareMore

By Jonah Comstock
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Sachin JainDr. Sachin Jain, who left his position as Merck's Chief Medical Information and Innovation Officer last month, will start work as Chief Medical Officer of CareMore Health System on January 19, MobiHealthNews has learned. CareMore, a subsidiary of Anthem, is an integrated care plan that combines a Medicare Advantage plan with 24 care centers around the country.

The position at a health insurance company rounds out Sachin's resume, as his background now includes major roles with provider, government, pharma, and payer stakeholders -- in addition to Merck, he served as a resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital and as a Special Assistant to the National Coordinator for Health IT at HHS.

"I trained as a clinician. I have a background in healthcare policy. I now have this digital health and pharma background," Jain said. "I would say my core motivating passion is how do we improve the health of patients, particularly the people who are the most difficult to take care of? I think there’s a subset of patients for whom the traditional healthcare system just does a huge disservice. Their care is not coordinated; it’s not effective; it’s not safe."

That subset includes elderly patients, the group CareMore focuses on. They use a number of technological strategies, including connected blood pressure cuffs and connected weight scales, to help coordinate care for patients who often find themselves bounced around many different parts of the health system.

"What we do in broad strokes is make sure no balls are dropped in the care of these very frail patients," Jain explained. "In my experience as a clinician, one of the things you see is there are so many breakdowns in so many different points in terms of the care of frail elderly. Between caregivers, between hospitals, between primary care facilities, between the rehab facilities where they go after they’ve been in acute care hospitals, the skilled nursing facilities, and the home. And there’s very few organizations around the country that are trying to build the entire system around all of that. CareMore has done that."

Right now, CareMore serves 80,000 patients in Virginia, California, Arizona and Nevada, but the company is looking to scale the business nationally, a project Jain will head up. That will involve paying close attention to what works, and also trying out new connected care technologies.

"If healthcare reform 1.0 was about improving coverage, I would say healthcare reform 2.0 is going to be about improving delivery," he said. "In all sorts of technology-enabled ways, that’s the opportunity here."

Meanwhile, M2i2, the innovation group at Merck Jain led, has been restructured into two separate groups, both led by individuals Jain recruited from the public sector. Dr. Aman Bhandari will lead Merck's data partnerships while Dr. Thomas Tsang will serve as chief medical officer for Merck Healthcare Solutions and Services, which will house many of Merck's digital health projects.

Jain says it's premature to talk about plans for innovating at CareMore, and his first goal is to understand the organization, the people, and its strengths. But he sees his role not in changing what CareMore does, but preserving what the model does well as it moves into new geographies. He holds that the technology for improved care exists, it just needs to be deployed better.

"In the digital health space, there’s so much smoke and there’s actually so little fire, so I think what we’re trying to find out where the fire is," Jain said. "What I’m hoping we can do is both find the fire and actually build it. One of the opportunities is to co-develop technologies with digital health startups and companies and that’s something I know people are enthusiastic about."

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