In an amazing decision that won lots of praise, Atul Gawande—a New Yorker writer and surgeon who won a MacArthur fellow for his work conveying modern medical practices and ethics, was chosen to lead the new healthcare company set up by Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway. The company, which has ambitions to redefine how healthcare is delivered by employers in this country, will be based in Boston, where Gawande lives, and will operate “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” He starts his new job on July 9.
Gawande, who has won praise and two National Magazine Awards for his elegant and explanatory prose on an incredibly confusing and contentious subject, came on the radar of Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger with his 2009 article, “The Cost Conundrum,” about cost variances in healthcare in McAllen, Texas. Munger was so impressed that he sent $20,000 to Gawande, who promptly donated the money to charity.
In a statement, Gawande said:
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 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.