Nation & World

Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan name CEO of health care venture

Company will aim to reduce end-of-life costs

NY Times best selling author Dr. Atul Gawande speaks at The New Jewish Home  3rd Annual Himan Brown Symposium at the AXA Auditorium in New York, NY on October 2, 2015.  (Stephen Smith/Sipa USA/TNS)
NY Times best selling author Dr. Atul Gawande speaks at The New Jewish Home 3rd Annual Himan Brown Symposium at the AXA Auditorium in New York, NY on October 2, 2015. (Stephen Smith/Sipa USA/TNS)

Surgeon and author Atul Gawande, a critic of his industry’s medical practices, has been tapped to lead the health care company Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase hope will slash costs.

The Boston-based venture will target the cost of serving the companies’ employees and will operate free from profit-making incentives, the three companies, which employ more than one million people, said in a joint statement.

Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan announced the venture in January, rattling shares of the health care supply chain, including CVS Health and Express Scripts, among others.

Amazon and its partners said they will use big-data analysis and other high-tech tools to improve care and cut wasteful spending.

Gawande practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

In his 2014 book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” Gawande argued against prolonging a poor quality of life for the elderly and terminally ill, saying health care institutions often deprive people of independence and quality of life in their latter years.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has said he wants the joint venture to deal with the “extraordinary” spending on end-of-life care when such interventions may not help.

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While there is no guarantee the venture will succeed in lowering costs, Berkshire Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said it was well-positioned to try.

“The resistance will be unbelievable, and if we fail, at least we tried,” Buffett said last month.

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