Ariadne Labs founder Atul Gawande transitions to chairman and becomes CEO of new health care organization

BOSTON – Ariadne Labs founder and Executive Director Dr. Atul Gawande has been named the CEO of the new Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway nonprofit health care organization and will transition to a new role as chairman of Ariadne Labs. He will remain a practicing surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

The new appointment was announced Wednesday jointly by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. “We said at the outset that the degree of difficulty is high and success is going to require an expert’s knowledge, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation,” said Bezos. “Atul embodies all three, and we’re starting strong as we move forward in this challenging and worthwhile endeavor.”

A national search will be launched for a new successor to lead Ariadne, a joint center for health systems innovation of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Gawande will transition from executive director to chairman when a new leader is selected. He will also continue to write, including for The New Yorker magazine.

“I am thrilled about this opportunity as it aligns perfectly with my personal mission,” Gawande said. “I have devoted my public health career to working with colleagues to build scalable solutions for better health care delivery in the U.S. and across the world. Now, I have the support of these remarkable organizations to pursue this mission for their employees and families in ways that incubate better models of care for all. And I will be able to do so while maintaining my own voice and continuing to enable Ariadne Labs’ powerful and complementary work.”

With projects around the globe, Ariadne Labs collaborates with major U.S. health systems, national governments worldwide, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, global foundations, and health and technology industry leaders to improve the delivery of health care for people everywhere. Ariadne Labs’ tools and solutions have spread to nearly every corner of the globe and touched the lives of hundreds of millions of patients.

“Ariadne Labs and Atul have our full support as he continues on his mission to advance care and outcomes for people around the globe,“ said Brigham Health President Dr. Betsy Nabel. “We are delighted that this venture will reside in Boston, and look forward to transforming medicine through collaboration and innovation.”

“For the last five years, Atul’s leadership has made Ariadne Labs a pioneer of global health system innovation and research,” said Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dean Michelle Williams. “Harvard remains deeply committed to Ariadne Labs and its mission to save lives and reduce suffering through health systems innovation.”

Ariadne Labs was founded in 2012 by Gawande and a team of leaders to find solutions to some of the most complex problems in health care, including life-threatening errors in surgery, maternal and neonatal mortality, failures in end-of-life care, and fragmented and ineffective primary health care systems. Leveraging a network of expertise across the Harvard-Brigham system, Ariadne Labs’ designs, tests, and spreads simple solutions to address failures in health care delivery worldwide.

Among Ariadne Labs innovations:

  • The Surgical Safety Checklist, developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, shown to reduce post-surgical deaths and complications by 47 percent worldwide.
  • OR Crisis Checklists, a compendium of 12 checklists to guide surgical teams through critical lifesaving steps when sudden emergencies occur in the OR. In simulation testing, Ariadne Labs demonstrated that when the checklists are not used, clinical teams completed only 77 percent of lifesaving steps in an emergency. When the teams used the checklists, they completed nearly 100 percent of lifesaving steps.
  • The Safe Childbirth Checklist, developed with the World Health Organization to address the major causes of maternal and neonatal mortality. Implemented with Ariadne Labs BetterBirth Program of peer-to-peer coaching, the intervention has demonstrated significant improvement in the quality of care during labor and delivery in low-resource settings.
  • The Delivery Decisions Team Birth Project, a solution package aimed at reducing C-section rates in the U.S. by improving communication between clinicians and laboring women, defining the basic care women in labor should receive and prioritizing women’s preferences for care. The project is being tested with tens of thousands of patients across the United States.
  • The Serious Illness Conversation Guide, a structured tool to help clinicians and patients have meaningful conversations about what matters most to patients. The guide is the centerpiece of the Serious lllness Care Program, a systems-level intervention to ensure that all patients with serious illness receive care that aligns with their goals and values.
  • The Primary Health Care Vital Signs, a global data resource for measuring and monitoring the strength of primary care systems in countries around the world, developed with the World Bank, WHO, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the global Primary Health Care Performance Initiative.

Deborah O’Neil
Director of Communications
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