Woodrow Hathaway Jr. is finding its a lot easier to work with doctors as a medical-practice administrator than to butt heads with them from time to time as the top executive of a hospital. A longtime hospital administrator, he is now the chief financial officer for Cornerstone Health Care, a group practice with about 200 doctors in High Point, N.C.
Some folks think Ive gone to the dark side, said Hathaway, 58, joking about the move from his former post as chief executive officer of 25-bed Chatham Hospital in Siler City, N.C. But its fun, especially when youre actually working for the doctors, and theyre not banging on you.
He joins a number of top hospital executives who have made dramatic midcareer changes by transitioning to the world of medical-group practices (Oct. 23, 2006, p. 24). For many of these executives, the skills developed as a hospital administrator are easily transferable to group practices, observers note.
Since arriving at Cornerstone last fall, Hathaway has helped add size and bargaining clout to Cornerstone, which has merged three other group practices into the large multispecialty operation that is wholly owned by its physician-partners. Cornerstone operates 40 offices, mostly in High Point, and all of its offices are within a 40-mile radius, Hathaway said.
Asked about the differences between hospitals and his current role, he said, I think the challenge for any physician practice these days is reimbursement. And thats where we are able to enjoy some benefits. We merged three practices since Ive been here, and that gives us more bargaining power (in negotiating managed-care contracts). Stand-alone physician practices get hammered by managed-care companies.