Change agents charge to the top

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By David May

As con­ver­sa­tions in health­care con­tinue to fo­cus on qual­ity, pa­tient safety and a sys­tem shift­ing to value over vol­ume, Mod­ern Health­care’s 12th an­nual rank­ing of the 50 Most In­flu­en­tial Physi­cian Ex­ec­u­tives and Lead­ers in­creas­ingly re­flects the in­dus­try play­ers charged with mak­ing it hap­pen.

While physi­cian-CEOs at some of the na­tion’s most prom­i­nent health sys­tems con­tinue to dom­i­nate the top of the chart, qual­ity ex­perts and reg­u­la­tors are mov­ing up the list.

No. 1 this year is Dr. Robert Califf, the newly con­firmed com­mis­sioner of the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, fol­lowed closely at No. 3 by an­other top-level agency ex­ec­u­tive, Dr. Patrick Con­way, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer at the CMS.

Sys­tems on the front lines of ex­e­cut­ing change re­main near the top. They in­clude Dr. John Nose­wor­thy, CEO at Mayo Clinic, No. 2; Dr. Toby Cos­grove, CEO of the Cleve­land Clinic, No. 5; Dr. David Torchi­ana, CEO at Part­ners Health-Care, No. 7; Dr. Ben­jamin Chu, newly named CEO at Me­mo­rial Her­mann Health Sys­tem, No. 8; and Dr. David Fein­berg, CEO at Geisinger Health Sys­tem, No. 9.

Dr. Gary Ka­plan, CEO of the Vir­ginia Ma­son Health Sys­tem, at No. 11, is one of three ex­ec­u­tives mak­ing the list for 11 of the 12 years the rank­ings have been pub­lished. Join­ing him are the Cleve­land Clinic’s Cos­grove and Dr. Risa

Lav­izzo- Mourey, No. 26 on the list, who is CEO of the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion, the na­tion’s largest phi­lan- thropic or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated solely to health and health­care is­sues.

Ka­plan says one of the roles he’s most proud of in­volves his work out­side of Vir­ginia Ma­son to “change the con­ver­sa­tion” from a health­care sys­tem fo­cused on physi­cians and care teams to one that’s cen­tered on pa­tients and their fam­i­lies. He cited gains in qual­ity and pa­tient safety across the in­dus­try, but noted that “we’re nowhere near as good as we can be.”

Nine of the lead­ers on this year’s list are new­com­ers: the FDA’s Califf, Part­ners’ Torchi­ana, Dr. Roy Bev­eridge, CMO at Hu­mana, at No. 16; Hu­mayun Chaudhry, CEO of the Fed­er­a­tion of State Med­i­cal Boards, No. 28; Dr. Penny Wheeler, CEO at Al­lina Health, No. 31; Dr. Craig Samitt, chief clin­i­cal of­fi­cer at An­them, No. 38; Dr. Ken­neth Davis, CEO of New York City’s Mount Si­nai Health Sys­tem, No. 39; Dr. Fran­cis Crosson, chair­man of the Medi­care Pay­ment Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion, No. 41; and Dr. Craig Thomp­son, CEO of Me­mo­rial Sloan Ket­ter­ing Cancer Cen­ter, No. 45.

Thomp­son points to the quick­en­ing pace of break­throughs in cancer care, thanks to pre­ci­sion medicine, im­munother­apy and the devel­op­ment of less-toxic drugs. That’s progress he wants to con­tinue to in­flu­ence. “We’re re­ally at a piv­otal time when we can de­liver on all the ba­sic re­search and trans­la­tional re­search from the past 25 years” lead­ing to tar­geted treat­ments for in­di­vid­ual tu­mors. “This isn’t science fic­tion. We’re do­ing it ev­ery day.”

Dr. Gary Ka­plan, chair­man and CEO of Vir­ginia Ma­son Health Sys­tem in Seat­tle, is ranked No. 11.

Dr. Risa Lav­izzo-Mourey, CEO of the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion, is No. 26 on the list.

Dr. Craig Thomp­son, CEO of Me­mo­rial Sloan Ket­ter­ing Cancer Cen­ter in New York, is ranked No. 45.

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