Dr. Atul Gawande — the prominent physician, prolific writer, and all-around health care celebrity — will become the chief executive of the new health care company launched by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, the three companies announced Wednesday.
Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who teaches at Harvard’s medical and public health schools, will take charge of the new organization July 9. In a note sent to friends and colleagues, Gawande said that he is not giving up his positions at Harvard or the Brigham and that he will keep writing, including for the New Yorker. But he said he will transition from being executive director to chairman of Ariadne Labs, which works on solving problems in health systems around the world.
The new company will be based in Boston.
“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,” Gawande said in a statement put out by the companies. “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 models of care for all.”
Not much has been revealed about the new health care enterprise from the three corporate giants; in the release Wednesday, it doesn’t even have a name. The new organization is meant to come up with ways to address the health care costs for the companies’ employees, though its founders have indicated they hope that it comes up with solutions that could be spread across the entire U.S. health system.
Some experts have expressed some skepticism though so far, given the lack of details and the quagmire that is the health care industry. Many other innovators have sought to find solutions to health care costs in the past but have run head-on into the complexity of the system.
But in his note to friends, Gawande said that “this new health care organization represents one of the most promising opportunities to accelerate improvement of US health care delivery. The work will be difficult and take time, but it must be done.”
Gawande was not immediately available for an interview, according to the Brigham.