Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announce a big deal update on their previously announced health care venture:
SEATTLE & OMAHA, Neb. & NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A, BRK.B) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) announced today the next step in their partnership on U.S. employee healthcare with the appointment of Dr. Atul Gawande as its Chief Executive Officer, effective July 9. The new company will be headquartered in Boston and will operate as an independent entity that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints.
"I'm thrilled to be named CEO of this healthcare initiative," said Atul, "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. 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."
"As employers and as leaders, addressing healthcare is one of the most important things we can do for our employees and their families, as well as for the communities where we all work and live. Together, we have the talent and resources to make things better, and it is our responsibility to do so. We're so grateful for the countless statements of support and offers to help and participate, and we're so fortunate to have attracted such an extraordinary leader and innovator as Atul," said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.
"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."
"Talent and dedication were manifest among the many professionals we interviewed. All felt that better care can be delivered and that rising costs can be checked. Jamie, Jeff and I are confident that we have found in Atul the leader who will get this important job done," said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
Atul is a globally-renowned surgeon, writer and public health innovator. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and is Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is founding executive director of the health systems innovation center, Ariadne Labs. He also is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, has written four New York Times bestsellers: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and Being Mortal, and has received numerous awards for his contributions to science and healthcare.
As a Boston-based person myself I am especially pleased with the "headquartered in Boston" aspect of this. Dr. Gawande, longtime readers may recall, had a Buffett-Berkshire connection already via Charlie Munger. Earlier coverage of Dr. Gawande at FutureOfCapitalism is here, here, here, and here, and of the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JP Morgan Chase healthcare venture is here.
If you had to bet on who would do a better job making healthcare less costly and more effective, who would you bet on? The politicians in Washington? Or the combination of an extremely thoughtful Harvard Medical School-affiliated doctor and the most shrewd American businessmen (Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Jeff Bezos)? The question answers itself. (Admittedly, it could be a false dichotomy, because the Gawande team may find some of the lowest-hanging fruit involves winning some policy changes, or at least waivers, from the Feds.) Their greatest obstacle may be managing the high expectations.