When Thomas Scully had to quit the board of directors of DaVita and other healthcare companies upon becoming administrator of the newly named Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the dialysis-services provider wasted no time in replacing his Washington clout. The Torrance, Calif.-based company recently tabbed two former administrators of the agency, formerly called HCFA-Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and William Roper, M.D.-to fill open spots on the board.
"Nancy-Ann and Bill can help us, as Tom already has, to work toward achieving our objective of a more constructive partnership with the federal government," Kent Thiry, DaVita's chairman and chief executive officer, said in the news release announcing their appointments.
Indeed, DaVita has good reason to want to be friendly with the feds. A spokeswoman says about 60% of the company's revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid patients.
And, in these times of bipartisanship, DaVita has taken care to cover both sides of the aisle. DeParle, 44, served as HCFA administrator from November 1997 to October 2000 and, before that, in the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton. Roper, 52, held the HCFA post during the Reagan administration from 1986 to 1989. Roper also worked in the White House and directed the Centers for Disease Control during the elder President Bush's term.
Since leaving her government job, DeParle has accepted board positions with Triad Hospitals, Dallas; Guidant Corp., Indianapolis, a maker of cardiovascular devices; healthcare information systems provider Cerner Corp., Kansas City, Mo.; and Specialty Laboratories, Santa Monica, Calif., a clinical laboratory reference company.
Roper, meanwhile, also serves on the board of Luminex Corp., an Austin, Texas-based company that makes biological testing products.
Who's on first? When it comes to medical technology, declaring a winner in the race to be first sometimes requires interpretations of Talmudic proportions. Case in point: the June 21 unveiling of the GE Discovery LS, a scanner that marries the technologies of computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET)-a major advance, experts say, in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
GE Medical Systems launched its new product at a spectacular event attended by 500 people at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and touted its hybrid, which lists at about $2.7 million, as "the first to combine premium PET with premium CT." The key word apparently is "premium," insofar as CTI PET Systems, a joint venture of Siemens Medical Systems, Iselin, N.J., and CTI, Knoxville, Tenn., won Food and Drug Administration approval last November for its hybrid, the Biograph, which lists for about $2.3 million.
Meanwhile, GE proudly boasted at its press conference that the first Discovery already had been purchased that very morning-online, mind you-by East River Medical Imaging Associates, a diagnostic imaging center in New York. But two days earlier Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore announced in a press release embargoed for June 21 that its department of nuclear medicine would get "the first commercially available combination PET-CT scanner to be installed in a U.S. hospital."
Thomas Hook, general manager of global PET for GE, explains the distinction: Johns Hopkins is the first U.S. hospital to get the scanner for clinical trials; East River is the first to purchase it commercially.
Richard Katz, M.D., president of East River, says his online purchase of Discovery was made at the encouragement of GE, which "is trying to get away from traditional ordering."
Asked what advantage there is to purchasing online, Katz takes a pregnant pause. "I don't know," he says candidly.
Cooking up a new plan. As the emergency services director at 335-bed Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, Wheat Ridge, Colo., Janne Taubman knows that organization is critical to keeping a number of pots going on the stove simultaneously, so to speak. Recently, the registered nurse applied her planning skills in a different arena when she wrote a cookbook, DinnerOnTime, a step-by-step guide to entertaining large groups for the kitchen-phobic.
The 128-page cookbook includes full menus for 11 major holidays and special occasions, with shopping lists for each recipe and a master timeline to have all the dishes ready to serve at the same time.
Since the book was published last November, Taubman, 56, and her prose have been featured in several newspaper articles, on radio and TV news programs and on two TV cooking shows.
She hopes her book makes it easier for large families-like the family of 10 she grew up in-to share meals. "If I had to say I have a mission, it would be to make cooking easy enough for families to get back to that," says Taubman, a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Taubman says she has always liked hosting large dinner parties, and her organization skills have paid off in cooking and nursing.
"People have said, `It proves that we can have a life outside of healthcare,' " she says. "It has been a great stress reliever for me, to be able to have something outside of nursing that I really enjoy and is very relaxing."