Dr. Atul Gawande will lead the Boston-based Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase healthcare venture, the companies announced Wednesday.
Gawande practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and teaches at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is also the executive director of Ariadne Labs, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a best-selling author who is widely recognized for his contributions to the healthcare industry.
"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," Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said in a statement. "Atul embodies all three, and we're starting strong as we move forward in this challenging and worthwhile endeavor."
E-commerce giant Amazon is partnering with JPMorgan Chase and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway to take a bite out of employer healthcare spending.
The group has offered few details on how it plans to tackle healthcare costs, but the companies said they would initially focus on technology solutions to provide employees and their families "simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost." The joint venture will operate as an independent entity that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints, executives said.
The companies seem to be focused on lowering the cost of care primarily for their nearly 1.2 million employees, but successful solutions could eventually be scaled. It's unknown if they will simply self-fund employee benefits together, or if they will build out their own insurance operation.
"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," Gawande said in a statement. "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."