Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon and Jeff Bezos are in the final stages of picking a healthcare CEO to run their joint-venture initiative to revolutionize how Americans receive their healthcare while reducing the cost of providing it.
It’s a pretty big initiative that’s going to require someone who is willing to think outside the box to deliver solutions that will work for generations to come.
“Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable,” Buffett said in a January press release announcing the trio’s initiative. “Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.”
The Vetting Process
Needless to say, the CEO vetting process has been a thorough one to ensure it gets the right man or woman to lead the charge.
Advising the group on the process is Geisinger Health System CEO David Feinberg who himself has become the target of speculation that he’s the CEO of the joint-venture initiative.
Buffett said Thursday that they’ve come to an agreement with the person who will be CEO. They’re just working out the details of that person’s contract and should have a public announcement within a couple of weeks.
Feinberg has said unequivocally that he’s staying at Geisinger.
“I appreciate being part of the conversation, which I believe reflects the accomplishments of the entire Geisinger team,” a spokesperson for Feinberg told the media. “I personally remain 100% committed to Geisinger and remain excited about the work we are doing and the opportunities ahead as we continue to deliver exceptional care to our patients, our members and our communities.”
So, Feinberg’s out. Who else could it be?
Frankly, to guess who the CEO will be is like finding a needle in a very large haystack. The U.S. healthcare industry saw $3.3 trillion in spending in 2016. Whoever is chosen will have to work with a lot of different stakeholders including some that aren’t currently involved in the discussion such as tech and financial innovators, the list goes on.
However, if I were to pick three people currently in CEO positions that could get the job done, here are two people I’d look to.
Pick #1 – Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO, Jefferson Health, Philadelphia
Fast Company named Klasko one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2018. Klasko has grown the hospital network from three hospitals to 13 since becoming CEO in 2013 with revenues growing along with it to $5.1 billion.
An OB-Gyn by medical training, he’s also a Wharton MBA. Both very important training grounds for the right candidate. Needless to say, Klasko is big on thinking outside the box.
Also, CEO of Thomas Jefferson University, a medical school, Klasko merged it with Philadelphia University, an area design school and now offers a design certificate as an elective within its medical program.
“Steve’s vision has been to forecast what will be obvious 10 years from now and do it today,” said Stephen Crane, the chairman of the board of trustees at Thomas Jefferson University. “Under his leadership, Jefferson has grown enough so that we can take bold risks, which have paid off.”
The Buffett-Dimon-Bezos initiative has got to take risks if it wants to be successful. Klasko’s used to taking them.
Pick #2 – Howard Schultz, Chairman Emeritus, Starbucks
Immediately after announcing that Schultz was leaving Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) after 36 years at the company synonymous with coffee, speculation he would run for president in 2020, began to take center stage in the media.
Personally, I think he’s one of the top ten CEOs of modern business and would do a good job in the White House, but it’s his decision to make.
What I do know is that Fast Company also named Schultz one of its 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2018 — a well-deserved recognition.
He’s long been an advocate of healthcare benefits for his employees, in part, the result of his dad suffering an injury on the job when Schultz was young and the financial hardship it caused the family because his dad had no medical insurance.
Having built a global business and understanding that there are limitations to what America can spend on healthcare, he’d be an excellent person to put to work fixing a very broken system.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.