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Jonathan Bush Resigns as Athenahealth CEO

June 6, 2018 News 27 Comments


Athenahealth President and CEO Jonathan Bush has resigned, effective immediately.

Executive Chairman Jeff Immelt and CFO Marc Levine will assume responsibility for day-to-day operations. Board member Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD of Flatiron Health will advise the company on data strategy.

Bush was the subject of misconduct allegations and the pressure of activist investor Elliott Management.

Athenahealth’s board is exploring a sale, merger, or other transaction involving the company, but will also consider continuing as an independent company. It has opened a search for Bush’s replacement as CEO.

Bush said in the announcement, “I believe that working for something larger than yourself is the greatest thing a human can do. A family, a cause, a company, a country – these things give shape and purpose to an otherwise mechanical and brief human existence. Athenahealth is a near once-in-a-life time example of such a thing. With that lens on, it’s easy for me to see that the very things that made me useful to the company and cause in these past 21 years are now exactly the things that are in the way. I cannot imagine a single organization more loaded with potential to transform healthcare.”

Board Chair Jeff Immelt said, “Athenahealth is the most universally connected healthcare network in the country and we believe there remains significant, unrealized value in the company. To ensure Athenahealth maximizes shareholder value and is best positioned to realize the full potential of its premier healthcare technology platform, the board has authorized a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives, including a potential sale or merger or continuing as an independent company under new leadership. We approach this process with an open mind and a commitment to continuing to strengthen the company – including its rich data asset, platform strategy, and culture of innovation. We are fully focused on serving the best interests of our shareholders, employees and clients.”

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Currently there are "27 comments" on this Article:

  1. This is a completely sanitized version of the story. Can’t believe that our industry, which should hold itself to a higher standard than say banking or wallstreet, has for decades has supported this drunk, mysoginist scumbag (who, as anyone who ever met him can attest, made absolutely no effort to hide any of it.)
    Articles like this that don’t have the courage EVEN NOW to call him out, perpetuate violent sexist behavior. Jon Bush, and articles like this that completely give him a pass instead of making us take a good look at ourselves, are part of the reason there are so few women in HIT and an embarrassment to our profession.

  2. Hopefully half of their senior “leadership” team is right behind him, because he is far from the only person to engage in frat-rat-style harassment (and maybe assault if we really want to start getting into details).

    Make no mistake, though, Eliot isn’t dredging all this up because they’re so concerned for the welfare of women, this is a power move on their part, so while I’m glad to see sunlight finally shining on this, I’m under no illusion that things will get substantially better for women in that environment.

  3. End of an era for athenahealth…Jonathan was the pulse of the engine. Will be interesting how the hand plays out.

  4. Today’s “rush to judgment” environment is like the Duke Lacrosse incident, except at least in that case, [false] charges had been filed before the frat boys were kicked off the team as a PR move.

    • No, it was an Athena sponsored event at Universal CityWalk a couple of years ago during HIMSS. I don’t recall the moment they mention, but I do remember JB saying something like “everyone drink too much and make mistakes with your coworkers!”

      For anyone at Athena to pretend this is a surprise is disingenuous at best – my only connection is being in the same industry, and I have seen JB make inappropriate comments in person several times. The truth is that Athena stock value was served, or at least not harmed, by having a manic, headline grabbing, consequences be damned CEO until now.

  5. “To ensure Athenahealth maximizes shareholder value”

    Music to the ears of every current and future customer…right?

  6. Interesting….HISTalk writes a total 97 words on Bush being fired and his abuse and misogyny. (of the 309 words, 212 of them are the public statements.)

    Book review chronicling the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes…..2118 words, 6 images and a video.

    • I don’t see your logic in comparing word counts for a book report vs. a breaking news item (I haven’t even written a news post since Bush quit). Still, on the one hand you have a wealth of verifiable public information investigated over years (SEC fraud charges, a criminal investigation, investor lawsuits, proven patient endangerment, obliteration of a company once worth $9 billion, and a fact-filled investigative series and best-settling book). With Bush, you have 12-year-old custody hearing claims (with regrets from him and his former wife) and a 2007 complaint (since withdrawn) filed by a fired manager that he said something publicly that she construed as offensive at a meeting two years before. I don’t know how many words that information justifies, but if the abuse and misogyny is as widespread as some claim and is embedded into the Athenahealth culture, surely the press will dig up more stories and I’ll write about that. Meanwhile, the Bush resignation has earned about as much factual reporting airplay here as it has in the major newspapers. I bet your word count would reveal that their book reviews run longer than their breaking news briefs, too.

  7. Immelts comments are classic. Not a word about patients, clients, or employees… Sounds like my data is more valuable than my health. Certainly happy I am not a patient, client, or employee associated with Athena…

  8. I don’t like to see Bush taking such a beating. He is an interesting guy, and history is rarely made by the timid-and-studiously-conventional. Creating and running Athenahealth is a big deal and I admire what he has done there. It’s a truism that Athenahealth wouldn’t exist in its current form without JB.

    • Somehow many other interesting history-makers manage not to commit sexual assault. Maybe let’s not treat as if he were just a bit brash.

      • And you have proof of this? Shouldn’t you be sharing with the police or supporting the zero on-record victims?

        • There definitely isn’t a history of women finding their lives upended after going on-record accusing powerful men of harassment, abuse, and assault. We definitely have not been hearing a steady stream of stories from women who have had their careers destroyed for speaking up in their own defense, or trying to thread the needle of working in a field they love while fending off advances from men who have the power to destroy everything they’ve worked for.

      • Deserves both adulation and beating – This is probably true. It sounds like he’s a flawed man. Wouldn’t be the first one.

        There are a lot of voices shouting me and others down for saying that JB achieved great things and that I admire those accomplishments. Just for the record, I too have been sexually harassed in the workplace (not at Athena). I’ve been the victim of sexual discrimination – which is a separate phenomenon – and have even gone so far as to step up to the plate and bring a discrimination-related lawsuit against my employer. That is commitment to a cause, as anyone knows who has gone through the anguish, life-shortening stress, and financial disincentives associated with legal action.

        I’m saying all this because I want to explain that someone can have full knowledge of what the #MeToo movement is about, and still feel that it should be acceptable to acknowledge a male’s contributions to his field. Even if that guy has his flaws (admittedly, I don’t know how big they are – the news coverage seems sensationalistic and other accusations are somewhat vague).

    • It baffles me how people can say things like “I don’t like to see Bush taking such a beating” when the thing he’s taking such a “beating” for is literally beating his ex-wife.

  9. When Jonathon Bush wouldn’t or couldn’t agree with Immelt, and Elliot investment managers, they smeared him to get what they wanted.
    The guy is quirky and irreverent, but he was passionate about healthcare and patients, one of the fastest and sharpest thinkers and innovators in the industry, and his heart was in the right place.
    Wherever he lands he’ll be fine.

    • “Quirky”

      Is there a specific number of women who its acceptable to humiliate and abuse, as long as a person’s work output is good? Is it a fixed number, or a percentage of workforce, or what? If that person is you, will you just accept your fate with a smile? Or do you think you might get a little angry?

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