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Eminent surgeon Atul Gawande to lead Amazon’s health venture

Surgeon, public health doctor and 'big thinker' on healthcare to lead new venture

Atul Gawande

Amazon, JPMorgan and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway have a high-profile chief executive for its non-profit healthcare company, recruiting Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon Dr Atul Gawande.

The new company – unveiled in January with the mission of providing high-quality and affordable healthcare to the trio’s more than a million employees and their family members – will be based in Boston and Gawande will officially take up his post on 9 July.

The formation of the company followed weeks of speculation that Amazon was planning to get into the healthcare distribution game, although the online retail giant quashed those rumours towards the end of last year before announcing its real plans in healthcare.

As none of the founder companies have direct experience of healthcare – which raised a few eyebrows when the venture was announced – they need a prominent figurehead to lead the new entity, and Gawande would seem to fit the bill. Along with his surgical position at Brigham he holds teaching positions at Harvard University and is a regular columnist on healthcare issues for The New Yorker and an author.

Gawande has some commercial experience as the founding executive director and CEO of Ariadne Labs, set up to apply his ‘checklist’ principles to healthcare issues such as surgical errors, maternal and neonatal mortality and inefficient primary healthcare delivery – focusing on a team-oriented, systems approach.

He’ll be stepping down as CEO of Ariadne but will stay on board as the firm’s chairman – and will continue his work at Brigham and Harvard.

“I have devoted my public health career to building scalable solutions for better healthcare delivery that are saving lives, reducing suffering, and eliminating wasteful spending both in the US and across the world,” said Gawande in a statement.

“Now I have the backing of these remarkable organizations to pursue this mission with even greater impact for more than a million people, and in doing so incubate better models of care for all. This work will take time but must be done. The system is broken, and better is possible.”

The partners believe dovetailing their expertise in finance, e-commerce and insurance with Gawande’s healthcare nous will enable them to take a novel approach to the challenge of rising healthcare costs in the US.

“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,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

“Atul embodies all three, and we’re starting strong as we move forward in this challenging and worthwhile endeavour.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

21st June 2018

From: Healthcare

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