As physician executives continue to exert greater influence on healthcare delivery, some individuals stand out for truly changing how society thinks about and participates in the system. Modern Physician has selected 25 visionary doctors to represent those who rattle the status quo by flexing their experience and reputations in a variety of disciplines-politics, quality, information technology, public health, philanthropy and business, to name a few.
These physicians have a deep understanding of how healthcare works. They see where the system fails, and they forge clear paths toward comprehensive solutions, convincing others to join the mission. Each of them might say it can't be done alone, but without the leadership, foresight and determination of these individual physicians, the transformations they catalyze might not occur at all.
"I don't think the system can change fundamentally without physicians involved, if not leading," says Donald Berwick, M.D., president and CEO of the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. "They are too critical and have too many prerogatives with too much clout. They can slow things down if they're not helping."
As the highest ranking civilian doctor at the Department of Defense, William Winkenwerder Jr., M.D., is acutely aware that many are watching to see how the Military Health System under his command weathers the war in Iraq while providing healthcare for its 8.7 million beneficiaries. Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, says military health provides an example for a private sector facing similar new threats and pressures.
"We share our experience through the training of people and through our science and research and technology," he says. "For example, the smallpox vaccine program serves as a point of national preparedness and enhances national security. Often we are the first to do things, and many times we serve as a model for the subsequent implementation of programs in the civilian sector."
This list of movers and shakers admittedly is not populated by enough women, yet few of their male counterparts command more influence or power than Julie Gerberding, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J.
"Physician executives are the bridge people (who) often can frame an issue and get people from different constituencies to understand, because they can translate ideas into the language of each of those different constituencies," Lavizzo-Mourey says.
Stuart Baker, M.D. Expert on clinical quality improvement initiatives. Executive vice president of clinical affairs for VHA, Irving, Texas, and coordinator of clinical and physician support.
Donald Berwick, M.D. Quality leader. Co-founder, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Boston. Harvard Medical School professor of pediatrics and healthcare policy.
Len Cerullo, M.D. Laser neurosurgery pioneer. Founder and medical director of Neurologic & Orthopedic Inst. of Chicago. Founder of Chicago Inst. of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch.
Howard Dean, M.D. Campaigning to be Democratic candidate in 2004 presidential election after 11 years as governor of Vermont. Internist. Advocates universal health coverage.
Spencer Foreman, M.D. Career physician exec. President and CEO for past 17 years of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where he implemented turnaround strategy in the tough NYC market.
Sen. Bill Frist, M.D. Heart and lung transplant surgeon. Only doctor in the U.S. Senate, where he has served eight years, and majority leader. Sure to play a role in Medicare, Rx drug reform.
Robert Galvin, M.D. Director of global healthcare at General Electric Co. Member of the Leapfrog Group, promotes Six Sigma as a clinical management and healthcare quality tool.
Julie Gerberding, M.D. First woman director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Has had to deal with bioterrorism, smallpox vaccine, SARS. "Standard operating procedure," she says.
John D. Halamka, M.D.Plugged into IT: CIO of CareGroup Health System, Boston. Associate dean for education tech at Harvard Medical School. Chairs New England Health Electronic Data Network.
Harry Jacobson, M.D. Leader in commercializing academic projects. Vice chancellor for health affairs, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; chairman, Vanderbilt University Technology Corp.
Brent James, M.D. Quality leader. Executive director, Institute for Health Care Delivery Research at Intermountain Health Care, Salt Lake City. Co-author of 1999 and 2001 IOM reports.
William Jessee, M.D. Principal voice for group practices in a managed care era, focusing on quality and negotiation. President and CEO of Medical Group Management Association, Denver.
David Kibbe, M.D. All things HIPAA: Co-founder of HIPAA.org, co-chair of WEDI-SNIP. As director of health IT for the AAFP, is leading an effort to develop a low-cost EMR for PCPs.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D. President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest U.S. health philanthropy. A geriatrician, she brings an academic medicine background and MBA to the job.
David Leach, M.D. Executive director, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Chicago. Oversees ACGME's resident work hours limits, move to outcomes-based measures.
Jack McConnell, M.D. Founder and director, Volunteers in Medicine, which has set up 23 free clinics for the poor staffed by retired physicians. He says 43 more clinics are on the way.
Donald Palmisano, M.D.Triple threat: vascular surgeon, licensed attorney, AMA president-elect. An effective advocate, he has testified before Congress on legal, medical, financial issues.
John Rowe, M.D. Chairman and CEO of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna. Since taking over three years ago, has managed to turn Aetna back to profitability by shrinking membership.
Thomas Royer, M.D. President and CEO of Christus Health, Irving, Texas. In health system leadership since 1974. His peers say he is among the most effective hospital administrators.
Ruth Schulze, M.D. President of the Bergen County, N.J., Medical Society. Helped organize the largest walkout in the country of physicians protesting medical malpractice insurance.
David Shapiro, M.D. Medical director, Surgis, Nashville, Tenn. As president of the American Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, he is helping lead the AAASC Medicare lobby.
Mike Stocker, M.D. President and CEO of WellChoice. Has guided a financial turnaround for the Empire Blues parent, resulting in five years of continued growth.
Andrew Wiesenthal, M.D.Trying to connect the nationwide Kaiser Permanente network by orchestrating a three-year, $1.8 billion implementation of clinical information technology.
William Winkenwerder, M.D. Assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and responsible for protecting the health of America's service members. Up next: Helping to rebuild Iraq's health system.
Kepa Zubeldia, M.D. President and CEO of Claredi, Kaysville, Utah, which certifies vendor software. Central figure in claims technology as HIPAA transaction compliance deadline nears.