Oscar, Centene plan to stock up on IT talent

Two insurers—one an industry stalwart, the other, a fresh newcomer—are stocking up on tech talent as the payer industry shifts toward digitization.

Following a $375 million funding round from Google’s parent company Alphabet, Oscar Health Chief Technology Officer Allan Warren said the company plans to double its engineering and product teams, with a focus on virtual care and machine learning.

“We will accelerate our work in building the best experience for members, and an increasingly powerful one for providers as well,” Warren wrote in a post on Medium.

RELATED: Google parent Alphabet invests $375M in Oscar Health

Oscar has positioned itself as part insurer, part technology company by focusing on back-end analytics, real-time data and personalized concierge teams to direct patients to the appropriate site of care. On Tuesday, the insurer also announced it be entering the Medicare Advantage market in 2020.

Meanwhile, insurance giant Centene said it plans to hire an additional 300 information technology employees in the coming months. In an announcement for a job fair in St. Louis, Centene said the positions would be “high-skilled” with “competitive salaries and benefits for top talent.”

The company lists 360 IT positions available on its jobs site, including data analysts, information technology architect and application software engineers.

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With mounting pressure from outsiders like Amazon and Apple, it’s no surprise that insurers are seeking out highly skilled technology talent. Insurers have been searching for ways to meet consumers where they spend the most time: on their mobile device.

Even the largest insurers with plenty of resources are feeling the heat. During last month’s earnings call UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann said the company is underperforming when it comes to technology adoption and emphasized the need to put digital tools in the hands of consumers.

That pressure to bolster digital offerings isn’t likely to ease up, either. In promoting her new Blue Button 2.0 initiative that aims to release claims data using apps, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma called on private insurers to follow the industry's lead and adopt similar capabilities.