The healthcare industry is honoring a titan this week following the unexpected death of Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson.
Tyson, 60, died Sunday in his sleep, and the cause has not yet been released. Kaiser Permanente begins its search for a new CEO with Gregory A. Adams, executive vice president and group president, at the helm in the interim.
Tyson has led Kaiser Permanente since 2013, and under his leadership the health system has put a focus on the social determinants of health and improving the quality of life for the communities Kaiser serves.
For example, the health system pledged $200 million to combating housing insecurity in 2018, which included a $5.2 million investment in an affordable housing complex in Oakland.
American Hospital Association President Rick Pollack said in a statement that “the field has lost a giant in healthcare.”
“Bernard Tyson was a champion for creating a more integrated and coordinated delivery system, and expanding coverage and access,” Pollack said. “He was deeply passionate about the need to focus on wellness and prevention and was a tireless advocate for equitable care.”
“Whether it was addressing food insecurity or homelessness, he was a thoughtful voice on building a better future for all,” Pollack said.
Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association—Tyson was a member of the organization’s board of directors—said the industry has lost a “passionate leader and honorable man.”
“His visionary leadership and powerful ideas transformed the healthcare landscape in this country and around the world, allowing people to live longer, healthier lives,” Brown said.
Tyson also served on the board of directors of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the payer industry trade group, including a stint as board chair. AHIP said in a statement that the organization is “devastated” by Tyson’s passing.
“Bernard Tyson was a revered leader,” AHIP said. “His passion for helping people, his strong desire to serve, his dedication to making people healthier and communities stronger, his towering eminence as a leader: He epitomized what we should all strive to deliver.”
Tyson was a fixture at industry conferences and trade shows, and he recently spoke at HLTH in Las Vegas, where he kicked off Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Life initiative by imploring his peers to work toward a better future.
“How will history record us?” he asked. “Did we help people to thrive? Today, that’s the shared agenda of Kaiser Permanente. That’s what I wake up thinking about every single day.”
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma tweeted Sunday her condolences, saying the two frequently crossed paths at industry events.
“I have always admired his dedication and commitment to improving our healthcare system,” Verma said.
Tyson is survived by his wife, Denise, and three sons.