Gerald "J.P.” Gallagher got started in hospitals early. He spent a summer during high school working in a physician billing office. Culling piles of rejected bills, he checked the accuracy of the ICD-9 code and addresses and so forth, marking a star, circle or triangle to keep track of errors he detected.
Not too many years later, in 2002, Gallagher stepped into his first executive-level position as vice president of operations at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill., just as the hospital's parent was poised to deploy an electronic health-record system. By that point, Gallagher—now 40 and president of the four-campus system's flagship Evanston Hospital—had taken careful steps to prepare for the challenges in an industry moving rapidly beyond stars and circles.