Billionaire investor Warren Buffett praised the work of “The Checklist Manifesto” author Atul Gawande during a wide-ranging three-hour interview on CNBC this morning.
Buffett was asked a myriad of questions, and one of them concerned his thoughts on U.S. healthcare reform. Buffett’s primary response was that the government needs to focus on solutions that cut the unsustainable costs, and he recommended bringing in shrewd thinkers to help.
The one person the Berkshire Hathaway CEO and chairman mentioned by name was Gawande, a surgeon and author whose best-selling book addresses the ways doctors can drastically improve results by using simple written checklists before starting surgery.
Here is what Buffett told CNBC, referencing an article Gawande wrote for The New Yorker last year:
I would get people that know a lot more about it than I do. And, I mean, it–if you get the fellow that’s written on health care recently in the New Yorker, Gawande. I mean, he had–he had an article last summer that was absolutely magnificent. My partner Charlie Munger sat down and wrote out a check for $20,000 to him and he’s never met him, never had any correspondence with it, he just mailed it to the New Yorker and he said, ‘This article is so useful socially.’ He says, ‘Just give this as a gift to the–to Dr. Gawande.’ It compared medical costs in McAllen, Texas, to El Paso, and it just showed how, with no better results, that in McAllen they were, you know, they were spending close to twice as much per person. And you have these enormous variances around the country. And, you know, if you had some really smart people running it that knew a lot about medicine, they’re going to–they could do a lot about it.
Gawande’s book is no. 42 on the Amazon bestseller list, and Buffett’s mention today should help keep it there.