From Cowboys to Pit Crews - Atul Gawande Takes on our Healthcare System

In four days, surgeon, best selling author, Atul Gawande, will become CEO of the Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan Chase healthcare partnership and begin what his selection team Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon, hopes is a disruption of the American healthcare system. Speaking with NPR's Guy Raz on TED Radio Hour from NPR, Gawande says the cowboy culture of American medicine does not work anymore. What we need, he offers, is a pit crew for each patient.

"We have trained, hired and rewarded people to be cowboys. But it's pit crews that we need, pit crews for patients. There's evidence all around us. Forty percent of our coronary artery disease patients in our communities receive incomplete or inappropriate care. Sixty percent of our asthma, stroke patients receive incomplete or inappropriate care. Two million people come into hospitals and pick up an infection they didn't have because someone failed to follow the basic practices of hygiene."

Gawande has become known as the canary in the mine for American healthcare system in his writings and his best selling books. Being Mortal, his personal meditation on aging illness and end of life, called for a philosophical change in the system.

Here's an excerpt from his NPR interview.

Gawande said he counted 66 nametags of healthcare professionals who assisted his mother when she had her knee replaced. Often, one professional's patient instructions would conflict with another care giver's. Anyone who has experienced a serious illness with a stay in the hospital can identify with this scenario. Gawande has helped us look at new ways of aging and advocated for aging in place, an initiative in which I am deeply involved. He advocated checklists in operating rooms and saved countless lives. My hope is that we will all benefit from the approach he takes in this newest role.

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