When the American Red Cross had to replace Elizabeth Dole, arguably the biggest name to run the 118-year-old organization since founder Clara Barton, it turned to the biggest name in executive recruiting: Gerard Roche, chairman of Heidrick & Struggles. Roche, if you don't know, is the man who put C. Michael Armstrong atop AT&T, brought George Fisher to Eastman Kodak from Motorola and shocked the business world by tapping Louis Gerstner Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco, to fill the same slots at IBM.
By Roche's own description, though, the Red Cross assignment was different. "The motivation was higher," Roche told Outliers last week. After having conducted almost every major corporate search imaginable, he says finding the new chief executive for one of America's best-known charitable organizations was particularly exciting. "It sounds corny, but it was inspiring to me."
Roche, with help from Sally Sterling, a colleague in Heidrick & Struggles' Washington office, found Bernadine Healy, M.D., former director of the National Institutes of Health, who will take the reins as president and CEO of the Red Cross in September (July 12, p. 26).
Roche says Healy fit the Red Cross' bill perfectly: strong management experience, great passion for the organization's charitable mission and well-honed skills for dealing with the press and the political scene. Though the Red Cross doesn't use long-term employment contracts for the top post, Roche says Healy made a "moral and ethical commitment that she would stay for four or five years." Healy's medical training wasn't part of the search specifications, but, Roche says, that's a bonus for the Red Cross.
It's right on the label. Congrats to a Yale University research crew for figuring out through intensive study that, get this, hospitals making the annual "100 Top Hospitals" list don't necessarily provide better clinical care.
Maybe they should have read the label. The annual ranking, conducted by HCIA and William M. Mercer and published each year in MODERN HEALTHCARE, says out front that it measures mainly business and operational acumen-with two keep-'em-honest clinical measures included to make sure hospitals aren't pursuing profit at the expense of higher mortality and complications.
The authors, who got ink in the Wall Street Journal and some news wires, also contend hospitals are misrepresenting the report as a badge of quality. Some of that is going on in Yale's backyard, according to the Hartford Courant, which reported that Yale-New Haven Hospital's crosstown rival, Hospital of Saint Raphael, put up a big billboard touting its inclusion on the 1998 list.
Imagine, hospitals bending the limits of an industry honor for marketing purposes. It's a jungle out there.
Already protected. The American Medical Association mounted a $200,000 print ad campaign last week to push for patient-protection legislation-which was the subject of heated debate on Capitol Hill-and fight the lobbying efforts of the managed-care industry, which contends the legislation is unnecessary and will only raise the cost of healthcare.
The ads seek to tug heartstrings by featuring a photo of an elderly woman and surrounding it with copy imploring senators to enact patient protections, such as guaranteeing that physicians, not insurers, make the decisions about the medical necessity of treatment.
However, as the AMA's outgoing President Nancy Dickey, M.D., pointed out during a press conference unveiling the ads, seniors already have patient protections under Medicare in both managed-care and traditional fee-for-service coverage.
But Dickey says it's not a stretch to feature seniors in the ads because seniors are still wronged by Medicare HMOs when the plans pull out of markets, as some did earlier this month.
"A number of Medicare beneficiaries won't have HMOs because they're not making enough money," Dickey said. "They won't take away from the multimillion-dollar salaries their CEOs make."
The ads fail to mention that none of the patient-protection bills addresses the issue of HMO market withdrawals.
The drumbeat continues. For-profit healthcare takes another whack in the July 14 issue of the Journal of the American Association. But it's not the first time the authors have wielded the stick. The study, which is based on National Committee for Quality Assurance data, concludes that investor-owned HMOs provide lower quality of care than not-for-profit plans.
Surprise, surprise, many observers would say of the study's authors. David Himmelstein, M.D., and Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., both of Harvard Medical School; Ida Hellander, M.D., of Physicians for a National Health Program; and Sidney Wolfe, M.D., of Public Citizen, are all critics of for-profit healthcare and advocates for a single-payer health plan. A December 1997 JAMA article authored in part by Himmelstein and Woolhandler also vilified for-profit healthcare, prompting charges from the managed-care industry that the journal was playing politics (Dec. 1, 1997, p. 12).
In their current article, the authors contend for-profit HMOs come up short in all 14 quality-of-care indicators studied. That's especially troubling, they say, since so much of the managed-care enrollment growth in recent years has been in the for-profit sector.
Nonsense, according to the American Association of Health Plans. Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the group, contends that much of the difference in scores is attributable to differences in data collection among various types of health plans. She also says the study "goes in and out from ideology to analysis. A lot of this is clearly pot shots, not analysis."