This change is good

Next year the list will rec­og­nize health­care’s ‘most in­flu­en­tial’

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Editorials - DAVID BURDA Edi­tor

One of the many catch­phrases we use—and can print in this space—in our Chicago news­room to help us cope with the ever-chang­ing world of health­care and jour­nal­ism is: “Change is bad.” What makes the phrase work for us is the irony be­cause the re­al­ity is quite the op­po­site. Much like the in­dus­try we cover, we’re com­ing up with new ways to de­liver news and in­for­ma­tion to our read­ers. Our tal­ented, hard-work­ing and cre­ative staff of 25 editors and re­porters adapts to changes in our read­ers’ news and in­for­ma­tion needs with­out los­ing sight of the ba­sic tenets of great jour­nal­ism or the pas­sion for pro­duc­ing the in­dus­try’s be­stread weekly print busi­ness news mag­a­zine. For ex­am­ple, by the time we close the fi­nal pages of our last weekly is­sue of 2010, we’ll also have pro­duced well over 100 videos, we­b­casts, pod­casts and elec­tronic show dailies for our read­ers.

Em­brac­ing that spirit of change, it’s time to make some al­ter­ations to one of our most suc­cess­ful awards and hon­ors pro­grams: the 100 Most Pow­er­ful Peo­ple in Health­care.

A lit­tle his­tory first. The idea for the pro­gram came to me on a drive back from Kohler, Wis., in March 2002 af­ter I at­tended a meet­ing of sev­eral hun­dred of the in­dus­try’s most pow­er­ful health­care ex­ec­u­tives. My first thought was that the con­trol over the en­tire health­care in­dus­try was dis­pro­por­tion­ately held by a rel­a­tively small num­ber of peo­ple. That wasn’t a good thing for pa­tients. My sec­ond thought was what if the build­ing where the meet­ing be­ing held col­lapsed and ev­ery­one died (ex­cept one jour­nal­ist there to cover the story). Who would run the health­care in­dus­try then? Thus, the idea was born to iden­tify who our read­ers felt be­longed on the list of 100 peo­ple who con­trolled their fates.

In 2002, the first year of the pro­gram, read­ers cast 21,174 votes for who they be­lieved were the in­dus­try’s biggest movers and shak­ers. This year, the ninth year of the pro­gram, read­ers cast more than 800,000 votes. By the time you’re read­ing this, you prob­a­bly know who was voted No. 1 this year and the names of the other 99 peo­ple on the 2010 rank­ing.

Prior to the pas­sage of the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act, “pow­er­ful” was the most ap­pro­pri­ate word to de­scribe peo­ple who were push­ing down walls try­ing to re­form health­care and those who were staunchly hold­ing their ground to main­tain the sta­tus quo. But the pas­sage of na­tional health­care re­form makes both fun­da­men­tal changes in the de­liv­ery sys­tem and in how things get done un­der that sys­tem. Rather than knock­ing down walls, peo­ple are work­ing to­gether to sand and paint them, though they may ar­gue about the color. We think a bet­ter word to de­scribe these peo­ple is “in­flu­en­tial.” Con­se­quently, start­ing in 2011, the pro­gram will be re­named the 100 Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple in Health­care.

We’re also chang­ing the way the pro­gram works. This year, as in the past, read­ers nom­i­nated peo­ple for the recog­ni­tion. The 300 peo­ple who re­ceived the most nom­i­na­tions made a fi­nal bal­lot. Read­ers voted for 10 peo­ple on the bal­lot. The 100 peo­ple who re­ceived the most votes made the list bar­ring any vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. Read­ers were all pow­er­ful.

Start­ing next year, read­ers will be in­flu­en­tial. They will nom­i­nate peo­ple for the recog­ni­tion. The 300 peo­ple who re­ceived the most nom­i­na­tions will make the fi­nal bal­lot. Read­ers will vote for five peo­ple on the bal­lot. And read­ers’ votes will count for only 50% of the out­come. The other 50% will come from the ex­pert opin­ions of the se­nior editors at Mod­ern Health­care. Kind of like de­cid­ing who makes the al­ls­tar team in base­ball. The com­bi­na­tion of reader opin­ions and edi­tor knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence will re­sult in a more ac­cu­rate pic­ture of who is in­flu­enc­ing the di­rec­tion of health­care in the post-re­form era.

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