Ford, 46, who is currently president and chief operating officer, succeeds Miles White, who remains executive chairman.
White, 64, joined Abbott in 1984 and was named chairman and CEO in 1998.
White "will be leaving the company in a position of strength," said Jim Cramer and the Action Alerts PLUS team in a statement to members.
"[Few] companies of Abbott's $100 billion+ in market-cap size ... consistently deliver organic revenue growth in the 7% to 8% range."
Ford joined the Abbott Park, Ill., company in 1996 and was named president and operating chief 13 months ago.
In a statement Wednesday, Abbott highlighted Ford's tenure as executive vice president of medical devices, during which he was responsible for integrating Abbott's largest acquisition, St. Jude Medical.
Ford also was responsible for the launch of the glucose-monitoring system FreeStyle Libre.
He also was responsible for acquiring the Knoll pharmaceutical business from BASF (BASFY) , a 2001 deal that brought Abbott the prominent Humira treatment for illnesses including rheumatoid arthritis and plaque psoriasis.
White is also a director of McDonald's, (MCD) - Get Report the Chicago fast-food giant, and Caterpillar (CAT) - Get Report , the Deerfield, Ill., heavy-equipment producer. He is also a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
The 131-year-old company, now employing 103,000 people, said it has named all 13 of its CEOs from within its ranks.
For the first nine months of 2019, Abbott reported net income rose 53% to $1.47 a share from 96 cents in the year-earlier quarter. Sales rose 3.4% to $23.59 billion.
Shares of Abbott at last check were trading off 0.6% at $83.83.