When conflict arises in my house over what to have for dinner, I go to McDonald's, Burger King and KFC. The extra 20 minutes and few dollars in gas are well worth avoiding the inevitable grief I'd get if I picked one place and forced two of my three children to eat food from the third's favorite fast-food restaurant. Now, multiply that situation by millions of dollars and the potential of two out of three patients dying, and you have the conflict that routinely faces chief medical officers.
In this issue's cover story, veteran Modern Healthcare reporter Cinda Becker examines the growing--and perhaps unenviable--role of CMOs in making medical technology purchasing decisions for their healthcare organizations. In her piece, Becker profiles three CMOs and their strategies for making those decisions as they attempt to resolve conflict on several levels. First, there's the conflict between the spend-and-save-lives mentality of the medical staff and the spend-but-save-money mentality of the executive suite. And second, there's the conflict between factions of the medical staff itself over which particular technology puts their group in the best position to help patients and to compete with other physicians. But, as they say, someone has to do it, and these three CMOs seem more than up to the task. Becker's cover story appears on p. 12.
Conflict facing physician executives, leaders and entrepreneurs is prevalent in today?s healthcare delivery system, but you'd think that it would evaporate on the shores of a tropical island. Think again. Nine physician entrepreneurs who are on the staff of 189-bed Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands want to open a competing ambulatory surgery center across the street from the hospital. The volcanic eruption was loud enough to be heard in Chicago by Joseph Conn, Modern Physician's online editor, who in this issue's feature story describes the battle between the hospital and the business-minded doctors. As Conn reveals, the American Hospital Association has lent its support to the hospital's cause, allowing it to use some of the same marketing materials that the national group used to secure a federal moratorium on physician-owned specialty hospitals. Conn's exclusive starts on p. 7.
Also in this issue, Conn profiles the winners of the 2003 Physician Executive Awards of Excellence, sponsored by the American College of Physician Executives and Modern Physician. Conn's coverage of the winners, who will be feted at this week's ACPE annual meeting in Las Vegas, starts on p. 16.
This week also marks the debut of our new electronic magazine for physician and nonphysician executives alike: Health IT Strategist. The monthly publication, delivered via e-mail, offers readers a wide array of news and feature stories on the clinical and financial challenges facing health information technology strategists as they consider, implement and operate the latest clinical and financial IT systems.
The cover story of the debut May issue is of particular interest to physician leaders as they and their staffs struggle to embrace handheld computers to improve patient care. Written by frequent Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician contributor Mike Colias, it examines the possible quid pro quo facing physicians who accept free or discounted personal digital assistants from health insurance companies and vendors through arrangements with medical specialty societies. To subscribe to Health IT Strategist, visit modernhealthcare.com or modernphysician.com.