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Jamie Dimon, the boss of J.P. Morgan Chase, has proven to be a master of risk management. Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of our lifetimes, is adept at identifying value—and owning it for the long term.
But the key to understanding the new unnamed health care initiative announced Tuesday by J.P. Morgan (JPM), Berkshire (BRK-A), and Amazon is Jeff Bezos, CEO of the retailer turned online services provider turned entertainment titan.
The three companies are vague about their plans, but they intimated two broad themes about how they intend to improve the experience of administering health care. First, it will involve technology, prompting speculation this will mean better digital records, intelligent physician provisioning, and cleverer insurance schemes. Second, the three heavyweights will experiment on their own million-plus employees, a diverse workforce spanning low-wage normal folk to the most elite of our society.
This brew of technology and in-house experimentation—tech companies call this “eating the dog food”—plays to the strengths of Bezos. Amazon (AMZN) was a good, not great, technology company that hit on a better way to sell retail goods. Where it became a technologist for the ages was by offering for sale the online systems it built for its own use—Amazon Web Services. AWS combined both elements of what the trio hopes to achieve in health care, technology with inside-the-walls trials.
Bezos is doing this in other spheres. At The Washington Post he is lending his technical smarts and love of knowledge to an industry he ostensibly knows little about. If Amazon, along with its friends in banking, insurance and diversified industry, can hit on a better approach to health care, the world will be a better place for it.