Subjects

Atul Gawande, M.D.

Professor, Harvard School of Public Health
and Harvard Medical School
Renowned surgeon and researcher
Author, Being Mortal and The Checklist Manifesto

The physician's physician — the definitive voice on improving healthcare.

Add to Shortlist The New Yorker

Biography

Atul Gawande's bold visions for improving performance and safety in healthcare have made him one of the most sought-after speakers in medicine. His three books, Complications, Better, and The Checklist Manifesto, have all been highly praised inside and outside the medical community. His new book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. TIME placed him among the world's 100 most influential thinkers. He is a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship winner, a New Yorker columnist, an author — but, most of all, a physician, with a practitioner's grasp of the everyday challenges of healthcare delivery.

Atul explains that medical practice and philosophy has not kept pace with the changes in healthcare over the last hundred years. We need reform — and Atul is on a lifelong search to discover what shape that reform should take. What does an effective healthcare system look like in the 21st century? How can we improve quality, manage risk, and measure performance more effectively? Atul brings an eloquence and an intellect to these questions that allow him to offer deeply considered and beautifully expressed solutions with implications for healthcare and beyond.

Dr. Gawande is broadly known for his influential articles, two of which won him the National Magazine Award. He has written about the shift from lone-ranger physicians to teams of co-operating specialists, and the new values this shift requires. He popularised the checklist as a means of co-ordinating complex work in hospitals. His ideas about how to rein in healthcare costs while increasing efficiency and quality have transformed the national discussion of these issues. His writing sets itself apart by its depth of thought and research, but also by its willingness to look outside of healthcare and see how other fields have delivered high-quality service in complex industries.

Atul is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and a professor in both the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is the Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit making surgery safer globally. He has won AcademyHealth's Impact Award for highest research impact on health care, and the Lewis Thomas Award for Writing about Science.

Books

Being Mortal

Medicine and What Matters in the End

Atul Gawande, M.D.

Number 1 New York Times Bestseller

In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

Metropolitan Books (7 Oct 2014)

Excerpt

Excerpt from 'Being Mortal'The Boston Globe
No Risky ChancesSlate

Podcast

Inside "Being Mortal"Frontline
How Much Would You Pay For A Year of Life?RadioLab

Interviews

Listen: An uplifting lecture about deathboingboing
Facing MortalityThe Economist
Interview clipsThe Aspen Institute
A 'Good Death' Still HurtsThink Out Loud
Being Mortal — Commonwealth Club
By the BookThe New York Times Sunday Book Review
On LeadershipThe Washington Post Podcast
On getting a coach — On Leadership: The Washington Post
Prescription For A Better Way To DieNPRs Here&Now
We all die, so why don't we die well?PBS Newshour
After WordsC-Span
On Being MortalScience Friday
How U.S. Healthcare Fails to Handle the End of LifeDemocracyNow!
Radically Rethinking Patients' Last DaysWGBH News
'Being Mortal'HuffPost Live
On aging, dying and Being MortalFrontline PBS trailer

Reviews

Dying and in DenialReason
A Better Way OutThe New York Review of Books
Janet Maslin's 10 Favorite Books of 2014The New York Times
We Are Not Ready, But We Could Be: On Gawande's 'Being Mortal'The Huffington Post
Rx for How to End Our LivesNautilus
Managing mortalityThe Lancet
Being Mortal's central message is that we need to talk, early and often, about end-of-lifeThe Globe and Mail
Engrossing 'Being Mortal' offers 'lingering food for thought' on aging, dyingMyrtle Beach Sun News
'Being Mortal' — Sunday Book Review, The New York Times
Deciding How to Die Has Never Been HarderNew Republic
A Finishing CanterThe Weekly Standard
From beginning to end, 'Being Mortal' makes you thinkThe Killeen Daily Herald
'Being Mortal'The Guardian
ReviewThe Sunday Times
North Shore Book NotesWicked Local
'Being Mortal'Financial Times
A Prescription for Life's Final StretchThe New York Times
Going Gently Into the Night — Paul McHugh, The Wall Street Journal
A Book About Dying Tells You How to LiveTIME
This Woman Will Take Her Own Life November 1. Our Healthcare System Let Her DownNew Republic
'Being Mortal'The Boston Globe
Living When Body Parts Fail — medpageToday
'Being Mortal'San Francisco Chronicle
Spoil the EndingThe New York Times
Helping HandsThe Economist
New Book By Atul Gawande — Denver Public Library

Praise

“Dr. Gawande’s book is not of the kind that some doctors write, reminding us how grim the fact of death can be. Rather, Dr. Gawande shows how patients in the terminal phase of their illness can maintain important qualities of life with medico-surgical assistance. Being Mortal doesn’t gloss over what awaits us all, but it fixes our attention on the ways in which a patient’s wishes might be fulfilled.”
— Paul McHugh, The Wall Street Journal

“….this book is no lament. Gawande…is as interested in solving problems as in enumerating them.”
The Boston Globe

“Gawande's writing is clear and concise and yet gentle and humane. And most important, honest….As masterful as Gawande's writing is, though, Being Mortal is not an easy read. But it is essential.”
Chicago Tribune

“The book is a call to action — a reconsideration of what makes life worth living and how all, including elderly people and those with terminal illnesses, can find access to that….A surgeon himself, Gawande is eloquent about the inadequacy of medical school in preparing doctors to confront the subject of death with their patients….it is rare to read a book that sparks with so much hard thinking.”
Nature

The Checklist Manifesto

How to Get Things Right

Atul Gawande, M.D.

The bestselling author of "Better" and "Complications" explores the significance of the lowly checklist, and how it has revolutionised medical practice and saved lives. Today we find ourselves in possession of stupendous know-how, which we willingly place in the hands of the most highly skilled and hardworking people. Yet avoidable failures are common, and the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of our knowledge has exceeded our ability to consistently deliver it to people - correctly, safely or efficiently. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument for the checklist, which he believes to be the most promising strategy in surmounting failure. He looks at how the checklist has allowed pilots to fly airplanes with more power and range than possible before; and how taking this idea to the complicated world of surgery produced a 90-second checklist that reduced surgical deaths and complications in eight hospitals around the world by more than one-third. Along the way, he will show how checklists (which cost next to nothing) actually work, and why some make matters worse while others make matters better. "The Checklist Manifesto" is a fascinating exploration on the nature of complexity in our lives - and how we can best overcome it.

Profile Books (1 Jan 2011)
Profile Books (28 Jan 2010)

Better

A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

Atul Gawande, M.D.

The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable.

Gawandes gripping stories of diligence, ingenuity, and what it means to do right by people take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, to labor and delivery rooms in Boston, to a polio outbreak in India, and to malpractice courtrooms around the country. He discusses the ethical dilemmas of doctors participation in lethal injections, examines the influence of money on modern medicine, and recounts the astoundingly contentious history of hand washing. And as in all his writing, Gawande gives us an inside look at his own life as a practicing surgeon, offering a searingly honest firsthand account of work in a field where mistakes are both unavoidable and unthinkable.

At once unflinching and compassionate, Better is an exhilarating journey narrated by “arguably the best nonfiction doctor-writer around” (Salon.com). Gawande’s investigation into medical professionals and how they progress from merely good to great provides rare insight into the elements of success, illuminating every area of human endeavor.

Profile Books (27 Mar 2008)
Metropolitan Books; 1 edition (3 April 2007)

Complications

A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

Atul Gawande, M.D.

"Sometimes in medicine the only way to know what is truly going on in a patient is to operate, to look inside with one's own eyes. This book is exploratory surgery on medicine itself, laying bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is — complicated, perplexing, and profoundly human." Atul Gawande offers an unflinching view from the scalpel's edge, where science is ambiguous, information is limited, the stakes are high, yet decisions must be made. In dramatic and revealing stories of patients and doctors, he explores how deadly mistakes occur and why good surgeons go bad. He shows what happens when medicine comes up against the inexplicable: an architect with incapacitating back pain for which there is no physical cause; a young woman with nausea that won't go away; a television newscaster whose blushing is so severe that she cannot do her job. And in a richly detailed portrait of both the people and the science, Gawande also ponders the human factor that makes saving lives possible.

Profile Books; 2 edition (27 Mar 2008)
Profile Books (17 Oct 2002)

Topics

Atul tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Health Care Reform

The Checklist Manifesto

Videos

Skill World Forum 2017

A Conversation on the Future of Medicine | World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

Atul Gawande on surgery, writing, Obamacare, and indie music | The Ezra Klein Show

Late Life: A Conversation | Twin Cities PBS

Being Mortal | FRONTLINE Trailer

Getting a Coach | On Leadership The Washington Post

Being Mortal | The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

How do we heal medicine? | TED

Feedback

A worldwide leader in investment banking:
Dr Gawande was absolutely outstanding in his speech on Friday, fascinating reflections on the bigger issues facing all top professional industries, charismatic and insightful.

Inspired and inspiring choice to have Atul Gawande speak yesterday. Great content and the analogies to our own business were striking. Thank you for arranging.

This forum is incredibly relevant. We should really adopt this... Fantastic speaker.

A medical billing and practice management provider:
Dear Atul — Thank you so much for an inspired and insightful keynote address and break-out discussion.

You helped us launch an incredibly productive and energized 2 and a half-day conference.

We heard very positive and enthusiastic feedback about your remarks throughout the conference — and you clearly inspired the attendees (and all of us) to help meet the vision of "making healthcare work the way it should".

An event organiser for a large multinational IT corporation:
Atul:
Just a quick email to thank you again for doing such an outstanding job speaking at last week’s [...] Conference in Vegas. All of the feedback from your presentation has been incredibly positive – our [...] clients, the attendees, even my [...] colleagues, have all been raving about your participation in the Conference, and all of the tweets have also been really terrific. But there have been a couple of negatives...only that you didn’t speak longer. So all good! Thanks again for being so great, both on-stage and off, and know I look forward to the next one which I hope is soon. And I now have both Complications and Better on my to-do reading list! Thanks again.

A medical products company:

  • most patient man, never a hair out of place, calm as a cucumber, spoke with every person, signed every book
  • stories so compelling, amazing, unbelievable, still in awe
  • the emotion he evokes is almost spiritual
  • such a wonderful, wonderful man
  • can't say enough positive things about him
  • even better than we imagined
  • amount of emails I have received in the last 48 hours are remarkable
  • people are having meetings right away, changing practices, that is when everyone wins in every way a terrific experience

A membership association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices:

  • awesome, awesome, awesome
  • great message
  • really understood our issues and the direction our organization is going
  • fabulous
  • the best event we have ever had

A health organisation:
I just wanted to let you know that Dr. Gawande did a spectacular job yesterday. He was very gracious about spending time with our physicians and answering questions during the Q & A and talking with fans during the book signing.

A national health insurance association:
He is amazing....come on. Nothing else to say. He has to be one of your best speakers. No, really terrific. Many thanks.

A challenging business audience:
Atul's presentation was outstanding — well prepared, well organized, and well delivered. He used compelling stories and informative slides and video clips to illustrate his points. In response to the needs of our audience, he touched on how the concepts he presented could apply in other industries in addition to healthcare. And the Q&A was quite rich — Atul was articulate, thoughtful, and thorough in responding to questions.

The afternoon keynote slot can be challenging, because it comes at the end of the second full day of the conference. From what I could tell, Atul fully held the audience's attention. There was a full audience — we had 650 in attendance this year.

So, in summary, Atul exceeded the high expectation I had for his presentation. Unlike some speakers who have a canned presentation for every audience, he listened to our needs and tailored his presentation.

A dental education association:
It was a huge success. He was so personable and articulate. He stayed and signed books afterward and we sold out. I would definitely recommend him. Our members felt that he was intelligent speaker and made the large hall venue seem intimate.

A national healthcare insurance company:
Gawande was very very well received by a very picky group. He scored 4.87/5.0 on content and presentation and 4.91/5.0 on delivery.

Some of the comments:

  • One of the best presentations ever at this meeting
  • Outstanding
  • It got me thinking
  • Great presenter
  • Very motivational
  • Outstanding topic
  • Please have him back
  • Superb talk
  • Very educational
  • Wonderful message and delivery
  • I'd like to hear him again
  • Fabulous
  • Excellent presentation
  • Everybody loved him!

Scores were essentially perfect, you could hear a pin drop during the talk - people were hanging on every word, he touched on initiatives specific to [our association], and was very generous sticking around afterward to answer everyone's ?s, he was a breath of fresh air, everyone was very happy, all just wonderful, wonderful things about him.

A major health services corporation:
Amazing! We really, really loved him. He received super-high marks on the evals, too. Everyone was very pleased! Try and find me someone like that for next year!

A gathering of lawyers in healthcare:

  • Excellent! This was the best keynote address ever. I also enjoyed receiving and reading the book sent in advance; thanks to the people who brought Gawande to speak to us.
  • Fascinating presentation and perspective
  • Simply outstanding, could have listened for 2+ hours
  • The best keynote speaker in years;
  • This was one of the best keynotes I’ve heard, the conference is so focused on detail, it is helpful to have a speaker telling a story to provide context for its opening
  • Best program ever heard!
  • Best keynote ever!
  • Brilliant choice! excellent, though-provoking speaker
  • Exceptional, very informative and engaging, A+ speaker
  • He was terrific, common sense, practical, engaging and refreshing, much better than a "policy work" type as in the past

A satisfied customer:
Brilliant job
So accessible
People mobbed him afterward
So kind about it
He was top items in evaluations
I can't tell you how much people liked the books You are a rare find
A sincere thank you

A healthcare chronic care initiative:

  • The keynote speaker was exemplary, what a perfect way to tie up the meeting
  • Dr. Gawande is an awesome speaker, congrats to whoever got him to come and be a speaker
  • Absolutely excellent keynote speaker
  • The keynote speaker was extraordinary – I would be privileged to work with him
  • Atul Gawande was fabulous! I would like to hear more about the future of the Blueprint
  • The keynote made it all worth it

A health care system:
He was absolutely fabulous. Excellent. Such a nice man, he even hung around after the event. We had purchased books for the attendees and he signed them all. Far surpassed our needs. An excellent presentation.

A partners' retreat at a major law firm:
Spectacular, blew everyone away. People were completely mesmerized by his presentation. He never missed a beat. The delivery and performance was outstanding.

One of the Senior Managing Partners commented that Gawande was the best single speaker they have EVER had, ever at a retreat.

I think it was unanimous that Atul was terrific. He was fascinating and his open, honest demeanor was very winning.

Many partners have since bought his book and loved it.

A major HMO:
900 attendees, not one negative comment.
Very very very pleased, an A+.
Fabulous, provocative, great perspective, humbling, intriguing, a treat to meet him.
The CEO was delighted.

An event sponsored by the hospitals run by a university:
He's fresh, smart, had good content, was a delight at lunch. He is so unaffected...he seemed totally happy to talk to Med Students and Dept Chairs and Trustees and nurses. He signed a lot of copies of his book.

No negative feedback at all. Everyone seemed genuinely pleased.

An institute of the energy industry:
Atul Gawande was one of the highlights of our conference. He delivered a very compelling message, and we were pleased at his willingness to prepare in advance and have a conference call with myself, our Chairman and our CEO. We spoke to him an hour one day prior to the presentation. I have to tip my hat to Susan Cramer, his assistant. he was incredibly responsive and helpful-unbelievably so! I have never worked with someone so quick to respond and helpful as Susan, and I made sure Atul was aware of that. His presentation style at the event was great-easy to work with in terms of his A/V, it couldn't have gone better!

Articles

— The Washington Post
— Health Affairs
— The Conversation
— Vox
— Ariadne Labs
— PBS
— The New Yorker
— NPR
— The New Yorker
— Forbes
— VOX
— The Wall Street Journal
— The New Yorker
— CalTech
— MD Magazine
— Stat
— The Guilfordian
— Next Avenue
— Medscape
— New York Times
— Forbes
— The New Yorker
— Forbes
— Forbes India
— Business Standard
— The Guardian
— The Washington Post
— RadioTimes
— Financial Times
— Australia News
— Harvard Gazette
— The Atlantic
— Vox
— New York Magazine
— The Guardian
— TIME
— Slate
— Maclean's
— The Boston Globe
— The New York Times
— The New Yorker
— CommonHealth
— Med Page Today
— Harvard Magazine
— The New Yorker
— New England Journal of Medicine