As the new publisher of Modern Physician magazine, I'm determined to learn what makes our readers tick.
My goal with this page is to introduce you to physician executives who are making a difference. People like William Gorski, M.D., who this summer was named CEO and president of SwedishAmerican Health System in Rockford, Ill.
When we attended high school together three decades ago in Naperville, Ill., Billy was the kind of guy you hated to like and liked to hate. He was a top scholar, gifted athlete and respected student leader with rugged good looks, all in one seemingly flawless package. He even dated (and later married) the cutest and classiest cheerleader.
He attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and the University of Cincinnati medical school before embarking on a successful career as a family practitioner in Rockford. Gorski's business skills were honed administering his group practice of six physicians, which was acquired by SwedishAmerican in 1994.
As a system-employed doctor, Gorski began working his way up the clinical management ladder and in early 2000 was promoted to chief medical officer. In June, he succeeded Robert Klint, M.D., as CEO.
"I like Bill's style," says Klint, who remains SwedishAmerican's chairman. "He's a great listener and a calming influence when things get hot. He commands respect but is willing and able to make decisions on steely issues."
As CEO, Gorski has his sights set on streamlining the continuity of care. "I see myself as a patient advocate who has the ability to influence how this organization delivers care," he says. "We need to create an environment that allows patients to move seamlessly through our hospital, clinics and laboratories."
Achieving that goal, he says, will require a strong balance sheet and proper investment in clinical and information technology. Moreover, SwedishAmerican is in the midst of a $32 million construction binge that will include a new entranceway at its 400-bed hospital, a major emergency room expansion, new outpatient and lab facilities, and a four-story physician office building. The system, which employs 100 physicians and a full-time staff of 2,185, had net earnings of $10.9 million on net patient revenues of $213.8 million in the fiscal year ended May 31. Gross revenues were $402.2 million.
Managing the internal growth while attempting to improve clinical quality will keep the new boss busy.
"I enjoy watching things happen based on the accomplishments of others," Gorski says. "I pattern my management style on that of Phil Jackson, who surrounds himself with talented people and lets them go . . . after he has set the tone and defined the vision."
Gorski said the toughest transition from practicing physician to full-time executive is "the frustration of having things bog down and learning the art of delegation. Physicians live in a world of immediate satisfaction."
Tens of thousands of physicians are leveraging their clinical skills in hopes of building a business, carving a profitable niche or enhancing value in healthcare. This magazine was created in 1997 to help serve their informational needs.
Modern Physician's circulation of 32,552 reflects the diversity of those doctors interested in the fiscal management side of medicine. More than 18,000 readers manage medical groups or clinics, and half of them are CEOs, partners or owners of the business. About one-third of our readers are hospital managers, and nearly 1,000 of those are CEO types.
By definition, physicians are competitive, high-performance achievers. Those who enter the executive world are ready to face even stiffer challenges. I look forward to meeting the difference makers and sharing their stories with you.
Clark W. Bell