Dr. Atul Gawande has stepped down as CEO of Haven and taken on the role of chairman of the board, executives of the Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway healthcare venture announced Wednesday.
The leadership change fuels skepticism about what the ultimate impact will be of Haven, which its founders described as an independent company "free from profit-making incentives and constraints" with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing healthcare costs for their U.S. employees. The companies have shared little detail about their efforts and strategy since the group was formed in early 2018.
Gawande, who was announced as its CEO less than two years ago, said as he reflected on how he could best contribute to Haven, chairman of the board was an ideal role. Mitch Betses, chief operating officer, will manage day-to-day operations as Haven searches for a new CEO.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to advance Haven's mission in a new role as Chairman," Gawande said in prepared remarks. "This will elevate my focus from daily management to supporting Haven's strategy, board and leadership. It will also enable me to devote time to policy and activities addressing the immediate and long-term threats to health and health systems from COVID-19."
Gawande has continued to practice general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and teach at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is founder and chairman of the governance council at 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. Gawande also advised Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on healthcare policy.
While industry observers were cautiously optimistic that Haven could generate a unique approach to corralling healthcare costs, some were skeptical that Gawande could spearhead that effort with all his other responsibilities.