Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway select CEO for joint healthcare venture

June 21, 2018

The nonprofit joint healthcare venture announced by JPMorgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway in January has hired a CEO—Dr. Atul Gawande, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and at Harvard Medical School—who will start on July 9 at the headquarters of the independent company in Boston.

Gawande is described in the venture’s June 20 press release as “globally renowned surgeon, writer and public health innovator who practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

He also is founding executive director of the health systems innovation center, Ariadne Labs, which he and a team of leaders created in 2012 “to find solutions to some of the most complex problems in healthcare, including life-threatening errors in surgery, maternal and neonatal mortality; failures in end-of-life card; and fragmented and ineffective  primary healthcare systems.” Gawande will transition from his current position at Ariadne to chairman, after a new professional is recruited to take his role.

In addition, he is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and has written four best-selling books—the most recent among them, Being Mortal

“I am thrilled about this opportunity as it aligns perfectly with my personal mission,” Gawande said. “I have devoted my public health career to working with colleagues to build scalable solutions for better health care delivery in the United States and across the world. Now, I have the support of these remarkable organizations to pursue this mission for their employees and families in ways that incubate better models of care for all. And I will be able to do so while maintaining my own voice and continuing to enable Ariadne Labs’ powerful and complementary work.”

The three companies that are collaborating to create better healthcare for their employees in the absence of a fully government-funded solution actually already are self-insured employers, according to a report by Business Insider.

They have commented that they intend initially to focus on using technology to simplify care, but have not elaborated on how they intend to do that or bring down costs. One of the people briefed on the alliance said the new company wouldn’t replace existing health insurers or hospitals

“We’re already the insurance company, we’re already making these decisions, and we simply want do a better job,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Business Insider in February.

The venture will be geared toward employees of the three companies rather than healthcare consumers nationwide, although Dimon said all Americans stood a chance of benefiting.

“We said at the outset that the degree of difficulty is high and success is going to require an expert’s knowledge, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in the statement. “Atul embodies all three, and we’re starting strong as we move forward in this challenging and worthwhile endeavor.”

A recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a 51% majority of Americans support a national health plan, also known as a single-payer plan, while 43%t oppose it.

Research contact: pr@amazon.com

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