Atul Gawande Looking to Leave Top Job at Haven

May 9, 2020

His departure would add to the narrative of disappointment in the healthcare ventured backed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase.

Atul Gawanade, M.D., is looking to step down as chief executive of Haven and pull back away from the day-to-day operations of the novel healthcare venture that is backed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, theWall Street Journal reported late yesterday. The newspaper says Gawande wants to take on less operational role of chairman of the organization.

The venture, called Haven,  has labored under sky-high high expectations that a new entity backed by three massively powerful and rich companies could lead to massive disruption of American healthcare. Gawande’s departure from the executive job would, at least initially, add to the narrative that the start-up with blue ribbon backers has been a disappointment 

Gawande is a cancer surgeon at Havard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital who has written several books and whose elegantly written New Yorker articles about the expense and quality of health care have influenced healthcare policy debates. He was an attention-getting hire in 2018 that gave Haven prestige and a platform. As of this morning, Gawande has 323,300 followers on Twitter.

But, as the Journal reported, Gawande had little background in “the operational nitty-gritty of health insurance or running a major company.” The newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that his lack of background “may have led to stumbles in the venture’s efforts to craft transformative programs.” Instead of fomenting a major healthcare transformation, Haven has launched several relatively small pilot projects.

About a year ago, Haven’s chief operating officer, Jack Stoddard, left after just nine months on the job. The Journal reported yesterday that Gawande has been looking for someone to take on more operational responsibility for Haven.