Dr. Atul Gawande tapped to lead Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan venture

Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway selected Atul Gawande, MD, a surgeon at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital and contributor to The New Yorker, to lead their healthcare company, the organizations announced June 20.

Dr. Gawande will assume the CEO role at the venture, which will be headquartered in Boston, July 9.

"I'm thrilled to be named CEO of this healthcare initiative. 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 U.S. and across the world. 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," Dr. Gawande said.

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan announced their intent to form a joint healthcare company in January with the goal of cutting healthcare costs for their U.S. employees.

Other contenders for the CEO role included former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and Gary Loveman, former senior vice president of Aetna.

Geisinger Health System President and CEO David T. Feinberg, MD, was also considered for the role, but reportedly turned it down to remain at the Danville, Pa.-based health system.

"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 endeavor."

In a note to friends and colleagues cited by STAT News, Dr. Gawande said he does not plan on giving up his position at Brigham and Women's or his teaching positions at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, and will continue to write for The New Yorker. However, he said he would transition from executive director to chairman of Adriadne Labs, which aims to improve healthcare delivery across the world.

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