The 50 Most Powerful Physician Executives in Healthcare
Money talks. And when it does, people listen. Which could explain why David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology, was voted the most powerful physician-executive in America by Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician readers when, in his previous life, as founder of what is now called the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Blumenthal had only made it as high as No. 30 in 2005.
Whoever has occupied the national coordinator’s office has always maintained a high position on the list, and Blumenthal is no exception, being voted to the No. 12 spot last year. But, most likely thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or stimulus law, and its provisions to provide billions in subsidies for physician and hospital purchases of IT systems, Blumenthal and his post have been elevated to the top spot.
His predecessors, David Brailer and Robert Kolodner, reached No. 4 (2006) and No. 16 (2007), respectively.
But the size of one’s budget does not always equal the amount of his or her influence. Last year’s most powerful physician-executive, Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, heads one of the least-funded branches of HHS. While her budget increased because of the stimulus law, Clancy dropped to No. 3 this year.
For the second year in a row, the No. 2 spot has been occupied by a female executive. This year, it’s Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg making her first appearance on the list. Last year’s second-place finisher, Christine Cassel, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine, fell to No. 13.
Although readers voted before President Barack Obama signed the healthcare reform legislation into law, the federal government’s influence dominated the voting with the top six spots being occupied by Washington officials: Blumenthal, Hamburg, Clancy, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins at
1. David Blumenthal National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, HHS, Washington
10. Robert Wachter Chief of the division of hospital medicine, UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco 11. Paul Tang Vice president and chief medical information officer, Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation 12. Patrick Soon-Shiong Executive chairman and CEO, Abraxis BioScience, Los Angeles 13. Christine Cassel President and CEO, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia
2. Margaret Hamburg Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Md. 3. Carolyn Clancy Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Washington 4. Francis Collins Director, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. 5. Thomas Frieden Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta
6. Regina Benjamin U.S. surgeon general, Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, Rockville, Md. 7. Mark Chassin President, Joint Commission, Oak Brook, Ill. 8. Emad Rizk President, McKesson Health Solutions, Broomfield, Colo. 9. Barry Straube Chief medical officer, CMS, Washington