If you’re a medical practitioner being asked by Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon to head up a potentially historical healthcare initiative that conveniently doesn’t have to worry about making money has got to feel like winning the Powerball lottery.
Boston-based surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande, metaphorically speaking, has been given the keys to the candy store, tasked with finding healthcare delivery solutions for the employees of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A, NYSE:BRK.B) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) that lower the cost while improving the experience.
It is hoped that by using these three companies as guinea pigs, the lessons learned through Dr. Gawande’s initiative could be rolled out to other Americans, ultimately changing the trajectory of America’s healthcare system for the better.
If this were an IPO, it would be oversubscribed by a factor of who knows how many times. It’s that important.
The unnamed business venture gets off the ground July 9 when Dr. Gawande starts his new adventure.
The Best of the Best
The trio searched high and low for the brightest and the best currently working in the healthcare industry.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Geisinger Health System CEO David Feinberg, who was advising the group on the vetting process to find the right candidate, briefly went from the proverbial hunter to the hunted as speculation mounted that he was the CEO the three amigos had in mind for the top job.
Feinberg categorically denied the speculation reassuring his current employer that he wasn’t going anywhere. With the June 20 announcement of Dr. Gawande, Geisinger can breathe easier.
Perhaps the octogenarian Buffett put it best about the hiring process.
“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,” Buffett stated in the June 20 press release. “Jamie, Jeff and I are confident that we have found in Atul the leader who will get this important job done.”
Bezos’ Customer Obsession
Anyone who follows Amazon’s business and stock knows how obsessed its CEO and founder is about customer service and satisfaction. He’s relentless and while the company doesn’t always get it right, it wins far more often than it loses because of his preoccupation with the buying public.
In Bezos’ 2017 letter to shareholders, the word “customer” is mentioned 32 times. I dare you to find another CEO’s annual letter that does this. You won’t.
“One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature,” Bezos writes in the annual letter. “We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before.”
He goes on to state that a big part of staying ahead of customer expectations is having higher standards, which leads me to my second point.
The Good Doctor
Between Bezos, Buffett, and Dimon, you clearly have three people with high standards. The fact they chose Gawande to lead this initiative suggests he does, too.
And that’s exactly who you want redefining healthcare delivery in this country. Someone who won’t be satisfied with pretty good.
“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,” Gawande stated. “This work will take time but must be done. The system is broken, and better is possible.”
Even though I’m Canadian and don’t face the same issues that Americans do regarding healthcare costs, our system is also in need of repair, albeit in less obvious ways.
This is an exciting announcement in an era where talk is cheap. I for one will continue to watch Gawande’s progress with enthusiasm and a sense of optimism.
America’s healthcare system might just be on the mend thanks to some outside-the-box thinking from three of America’s brightest CEOs.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.