Texan G. William Woods, M.D., a specialty hospital board chairman and medical group CEO, is the 2003 Physician Executive of the Year named by the American College of Medical Practice Executives and the Medical Group Management Association. Woods will be given the award at the MGMA 2003 Annual Conference, to be held Oct. 12-15 in Philadelphia.
A practicing orthopedic surgeon for 30 years, Woods since 1989 has been the president and CEO of the Houston-based Fondren Orthopedic Group, now a 41-physician orthopedic specialty practice with 15 offices and 278 employees treating 180,000 patients a year.
Since 1995, he also has served as chairman of the board of Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston, an 8-year-old joint venture between Fondren and HCA, the hospital chain based in Nashville, Tenn. Woods serves on the board of directors of the Joe W. King Institute for Orthopedic Surgery in Houston, and he is a clinical professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
"He's obviously a very entrepreneurial guy," says MGMA President and CEO William Jessee, M.D., adding that Woods "has been on the cutting edge of the specialty hospital phenomenon. He exemplifies the kind of physician executive that we look for in this award."
"They made a good choice," says Beryl Ramsey, CEO of the 49-bed Texas Orthopedic Hospital. Ramsey has worked with Woods for more than four years.
"He has outstanding vision and leadership," Ramsey says. "He has a very good understanding of what's important to individuals and how people can work together."
Woods is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. He completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Baylor College of Medicine. A knee specialist, Woods says he sees 500 patients a year and spends about 40% of his time on leadership work, sometimes making executive decisions in the 30-minute breaks between surgeries.
Woods says he relies on Peggy Pierce, his detail-oriented practice administrator, for help.
"You have to have good people," he says. "You have to delegate. Peggy is the secret."
The group is self-insured for its employee health insurance, and for the past four years it has been self-insured for medical malpractice, except for a stop loss policy that Woods says the group plans to drop in February.
"We have all but about one or two hospitals that accept our plan without the stop loss," Woods says. Soaring malpractice insurance costs pushed Fondren to switch to self-insurance, but it has paid off, he says.
"We would be paying $100,000 per man for malpractice insurance right now," Woods says. Instead, per-physician costs, though they vary among group members based on their individual experience, average about $30,000, he said.
"Every doc is adjusted for time and exposure," Woods says, and since the group is on the hook for their liability, "we have seen a much different mind-set." Since becoming self-insured, Fondren surgeons are much more receptive to critiques about their demeanor with patients, as well as about their work, Woods says.
"Everybody is trying to do the right thing," he says. "They did that before, but you just see the better attitudes."
At Texas Orthopedic Hospital, HCA, the for-profit hospital chain, controls 60% of the income and ownership, but the hospital is run by a board of four physicians (including Woods as chairman), two HCA executives and several local members.
Control is not an issue, Woods says, even though the ownership percentages favor HCA. Physicians need to be assertive, but there is no question who has the clout in the partnership, according to the chairman.
"I would say we have complete control of all medical care at the hospital," Woods says. "The doctors can control everything because the doctors have the patients."
Mark Brinker, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon specializing in problem fractures, has worked with Woods at Fondren for eight years. One of the things Woods does best is bring the physicians to consensus, Brinker says. He does it by boiling things down to their essence and facilitating an open discussion among fellow physicians about the decision to be made.
"He's absolutely fair-minded, never dictatorial," Brinker says.
The MGMA, based in Englewood, Colo., has 19,000 members who manage more than 11,000 organizations in which 220,000 physicians practice. The 4,000-member ACMPE, the certification and standard-setting body of the MGMA, grants certification and fellowship designations to medical practice executives and leaders.
The goods on Woods"He's obviously a very entrepreneurial guy."
MGMA President and CEO William Jessee, M.D.
"He has outstanding vision and leadership."
Beryl Ramsey, CEO of the 49-bed Texas Orthopedic Hospital
"He's absolutely fair-minded, never dictatorial."
Mark Brinker, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who has worked with Woods at Fondren for eight years