The healthcare industry is undergoing unprecedented change, and the doctors on the 10th annual Modern Healthcare 50 Most Influential Physician Executives
and Leaders list are playing key roles in managing that change.
One of the biggest changes is the growing focus on improving quality and patient safety. It's a good sign that physicians are helping lead the reform process because those quality goals are what brought physicians to medicine and healing in the first place, said Dr. Gary Gottlieb, president and CEO of Boston's Partners HealthCare, who has made the list in all 10 years of its existence. He is No. 11 on this year's ranking.
This year's Most Influential list of 43 men and seven women
includes five physicians who made the list nine times, three who made it eight times, four who made it seven times and 15 who are on the list for the first time.
The composition of the rankings continues to shift. In 2011, eight of the top Most Influential Physician Executives were based in Washington and worked for the federal government. This year, that's true for only two: Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, who was No. 7 in 2011 and is No. 4 on this year's list; and Dr. Patrick Conway, the CMS' deputy administrator for quality and innovation and chief medical officer, who is No. 6 and is making his second appearance on the list.
This year, six physicians in the top 10 are leaders of private-sector provider organizations. In 2011, there was only one, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, who finished 10th in 2011 and did so again in 2014.
This year's most influential physician executive, Dr. Richard Gilfillan
, is making his second appearance at the top of the list. But he's doing so in a new job. Gilfillan, who has made the list four times, finished first in 2011 while serving as acting director of the new CMS Innovation Center. He's now president and CEO of Livonia, Mich.-based CHE Trinity Health.
Others in the 2014 top 10 include Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, president of the American Medical Association and an infectious disease specialist in Lexington, Ky., making her first appearance on the list at No. 5; and Dr. John Kitzhaber, Oregon's Democratic governor, who topped last year's list and is No. 7 this year.
Besides Hoven, other women making their first appearance on the Most Influential list are Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the new CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and former chancellor of the University of California San Francisco, No. 13; and Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the new national coordinator for health information technology and former New Orleans city health commissioner, No. 41.
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is the only woman to make the list nine times. She is No. 34 this year.
Other association leaders on the list include Dr. Jonathan Perlin, American Hospital Association chairman-elect, No. 9; Dr. Robert Wah, AMA president-elect, No. 22; Dr. Georges Benjamin, American Public Health Association executive director,
No. 26; Dr. Susan Turney, Medical Group Management Association president and CEO, No. 28; Dr. Peter Angood, American College of Physician Executives CEO, No. 30; Dr. Darrell Kirch, Association of American Medical Colleges president and CEO, No. 31; Dr. Reid Blackwelder, American Academy of Family Physicians president, No. 36; and Dr. Bruce Siegel, America's Essential Hospitals president and CEO, No. 45.
Perlin has made the list eight times for his role as chief medical officer of the Nashville-based HCA hospital system and other positions. Wah has been on the list five times for his role as CMO of Falls Church, Va.-based Computer Sciences Corp.
Dr. Gary Gottlieb, president and CEO of Boston's Partners HealthCare, has made the list all 10 times. He stands to the left of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
Dr. Steven Safyer, president and CEO of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, has been on the list six times. This year, Safyer is No. 35. He credits Montefiore's tradition as an inner-city center of innovation as a reason he's appeared so many times. “We were an (accountable care organization) before there were ACOs,” he said.
Dr. Gary Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, has been on the Most Influential list nine times and is No. 3 on this year's list. His hospital just received its fourth straight A grade in patient safety from the Leapfrog Group coalition of healthcare purchasers. He expresses confidence that the patient-safety movement that began with the Institute of Medicine's landmark quality and safety reports in 1999 and 2001 will continue. “I think the best days in medicine are ahead of us,” he said. Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks