By Alan Murray and David Meyer
February 8, 2018

Good morning.

Ex-GE CEO Jeff Immelt has taken the chairman’s chair at Athenahealth, moving in to help CEO Jonathan Bush fend off activist Elliott Management and drive digital transformation in health care. Athena has a cloud-based online platform that helps doctors and hospitals manage patient data, and has a market cap of about $5.4 billion.

I talked with Immelt shortly before the announcement was made this week, and asked him why he was doing it.

“I spent twenty years in healthcare at GE. I have a passion for the industry,” he said. “Athena has a chance to be one of the most significant platforms in the industry.”

He also said he wanted to work with a founder—comparing Bush to the likes of FedEx’s Fred Smith and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. For his part, Bush said he “needs a really good coach,” and said Immelt “knows health care and knows digitization at massive scale.”

Immelt’s main gig these days is as a partner at investment firm New Enterprise Associates. Since he left GE, that company has been in near-meltdown, with a market cap roughly half what it was a year ago.

Athena, meanwhile, has been struggling to pull doctors and hospitals into the digital age—no simple task. “We didn’t cure cancer last year,” says Bush—a cousin of former president George W., and brother of TV host Billy—“but we did figure out how to read seven million faxes.”

News below.

Alan Murray


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