Amazon, Gawande: Is This a Teachable Moment for Healthcare?

It is exciting to see Dr. Atul Gawande chosen as the new CEO of the joint venture between Amazon, Berkshire, and JP Morgan.  Gawande has a track record of thought leadership in public health, patient safety, and is a best-selling author. He is a natural for medical students to follow.  He consistently encourages the provision of primary care at the system level.

gawande teaching

Access to primary care physicians is vital, he argued, even life-saving: “There is clear evidence that people who get sufficient incremental care enjoy better prevention, earlier diagnosis and management of urgent conditions, better control of chronic illnesses, and longer life spans.” Gawande CNBC

Access to primary care is problematic at best in the US. During my time as senior vice president for a community healthcare system, primary care was often discussed as a necessary expense, but almost never as an asset.  In the dominant fee for service business model, primary care is not profitable for the moment. If Amazon and Gawande can deliver on the promise of health and better healthcare, it is a teachable moment.

This summer,  I have been fortunate to host student interns associated with Wabash College’s Global Health Initiative.

wabash global health

The most recent post from intern Arthur Equihua highlights his direct experiences during gatherings of community-based primary care physicians — it is not pretty.  The students have been fortunate to meet leaders in Research Triangle and Indiana who are deploying solutions locally and globally which augments the students formal training in public discourse, policy, and global health.

Fortunately for me, with each new daunting flaw that I hear about in healthcare, I am exposed to the innovative work of twice as many people who are dedicating their lives to solving current healthcare issues on all levels. With so much innovation and optimism radiating from individuals at Volunteers in Medicine, HealthLINC, NCHICA, DHIT, Duke, UNC, and many other organizations, it is hard not to feel hopeful for the future.   Equihua, Wabash College

It is important for progressive employers to realize their actions matter. They matter to both the current and next generation of leaders who believe we can produce improved health, encourage self-care, and deliver better care.

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