Surgeon, researcher and bestselling author Atul Gawande will soon be adding the title CEO to his resume.
On Wednesday, Gawande was tapped as the chief executive officer of the company, which is a joint venture by corporate giants Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase. The company is so new that the press release announcing Gawande’s hiring did not share the organization’s name.
“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 about his hiring. “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.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase said they decided to go into the world of healthcare to find ways to keep healthcare costs down for their employees. But, as The New York Times and other news outlets have noted, details on how exactly that goal will be accomplished is unclear. When the company was first announced, all the three executives would say was that it would “operate as an independent entity that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”
Gawande is currently a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and a staff writer at the New Yorker. He said in the statement that he would continue working at all three positions after he begins his CEO duties on July 9.
As a writer, Gawande’s work on the complexities and inefficiencies of health care in the United States have received widespread attention from officials in both the public and private sector. His 2009 New Yorker piece “The Cost Conundrum” examined why McAllen, Texas had some of highest healthcare costs in the country while also having worse outcomes than other nearby cities.
The piece was called perhaps “the most influential magazine article of the past decade” in an op-ed that ran in the New York Times and began an in-depth conversation about the overuse of certain procedures and how that connected to the Medicare reimbursement system. Members of the Obama administration were so impressed with the piece that it was made required reading for staffers.
As for Gawande’s plans for the new company, in his statement he noted the need to revamp the current way healthcare is managed in the United States.
“This work will take time but must be done,” Gawande said. “The system is broken, and better is possible.”