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Atul Gawande could step down as Haven CEO: report


Atul Gawande, who in 2018 was appointed CEO of Haven, the nonprofit healthcare venture launched by the founders of Amazon, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Berkshire Hathaway, is in “advanced discussions” to step down from the role, according to a Dow Jones report.

Dr. Gawande, a surgeon and Harvard professor, was tapped to lead the then-unnamed joint venture nearly two years ago in 2018. Haven’s much-publicized debut positioned it as a disruptive force in the healthcare industry that would harness technology to lower costs and improve the quality of care.

The Dow Jones report quoted unnamed sources saying Gawande, who is also an author and New Yorker contributor, had been looking for someone to help manage operations after the chief operating officer departed last year. It noted that, for all his healthcare bona fides, he had “little background in the operational nitty gritty of health insurance or running a major company.”

Despite Gawande’s high-profile hiring and the deep pockets of its investors, Haven has so far had underwhelming success attaining its transformational goals of using technology to significantly lower healthcare costs.

Sources quoted in the article linked that halting progress to Gawande’s measured pace of implementing ideas, and said that the company is actively looking for a replacement.

The Boston-based company aims to “bring together the resources and capabilities of the three companies to create better outcomes, greater satisfaction, and lower costs for their U.S. employees and families,” according to a statement on its website.

Soon after taking on the CEO role at Haven, Gawande gave a speech in which he said the joint venture was “a long target … [O]ver the next decade it will be a gradual progress, it won’t be instant solutions.”

Haven’s aim is to leverage the power of data and technology to drive better incentives – leading to lower costs, better outcomes and better patient experience. Toward that goal, it has made hires such as Dana Gelb Safran, who came to the company from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as its head of measurement to oversee its analytics and quality improvement efforts.

Last November the company announced a program called Haven Healthcare, which would see JPMorgan offer its 30,000 workers in Ohio and Arizona two plans for 2020 run by Cigna and Aetna.

Haven’s board comprises three members of the founding companies – Todd Combs, an investment officer of Berkshire Hathaway, Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Beth Galetti, a senior vice president at Amazon.

Amazon itself has been focused recently on offering its technological expertise to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, from an AWS initiative to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostics and research to a partnership with Cerner to help provide researchers worldwide with access to de-identified patient data.

“I feel incredibly lucky in this role,” said Gawande, soon after he was hired in 2018. “I will get a million new patients.”

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209



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