University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) physician Robert Wachter—author of hundreds of studies about hospital quality, medical mistakes, and other health care issues—topped Modern Healthcare's 2015 list of the "50 Most Influential Physician Executives."
For the 11th annual list, Modern Healthcare editors selected 150 physician executives out of more than 23,000 nomination ballots submitted by magazine readers. From there, 50 influential executives were chosen based on readers' votes and selections made by the magazine's editors.
According to Modern Healthcare's Steven Ross Johnson, this year's list highlights expanding efforts to improve patient safety, with three of the seven first-time honorees focused on patient care quality. That focus begins at the top of the list with Wachter, the associate chair of the department of medicine at UCSF and the chief of the division of hospital medicine.
"The amount of attention on quality and safety over the past 10 to 15 years has certainly increased, as well as the level of expertise we all have in terms of how to actually improve quality and safety," says Tejal Gandhi, CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation, who made this year's list for the first time.
Also see: Our interviews with the influential
Who made the list
In addition to Wachter, the top 10 physician executives on the list included:
2. Richard Gilfillan, president and CEO of Trinity Health (Livonia, Michigan)
3. Thomas Frieden, director of CDC (Atlanta)
4. Atul Gawande, surgeon at Harvard Medical School (Boston)
5. Jonathan Perlin, president of clinical services and chief medical officer at HCA (Nashville) and chair of the American Hospital Association
6. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota)
7. James Madara, executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association
8. Karen DeSalvo, the National Coordinator for Health IT
9. Charles Sorenson, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City)
10. Gary Kaplan, chair and CEO of Virginia Mason Health System (Seattle)
Meanwhile, other hospital chief executives who made Modern Healthcare's list included:
12. David Feinberg, incoming president and CEO of Geisinger Health System (Danville, Pennsylvania)
13. Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic (Ohio)
14. Prem Reddy, chair and CEO, Prime Healthcare Services (Ontario, California)
15. Steven Corwin, CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital
19. Ram Raju, president and CEO of New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.
20. Paul Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine (Baltimore)
22. Elizabeth Nabel, president at Brigham and Women's Health Care (Boston)
28. Robert Grossman, dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center (New York)
30. Ronald DePinho, president at MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)
31. William Roper, CEO at UNC Health Care (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
33. Rodney Hochman, president and CEO, Providence Health & Services (Renton, Washington)
36. Steven Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center (New York)
37. Gary Gottlieb, outgoing president and CEO of Partners HealthCare (Boston)
46. Glenn Steele, outgoing president and CEO of Geisinger Health System
49. Steven Altschuler, CEO of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, 4/4 [subscription required]; Modern Healthcare, 4/4 [subscription required]; Rice, Modern Healthcare, 4/4 [subscription required]).
Hear from these influential doctors
See the Daily Briefing's archive of must-read interviews with other top hospital and health system leaders, including:
How an ACO champion—now a health system CEO—plans to put one in every market
In an interview with the Daily Briefing, Richard Gilfillan explains how he viewed health care delivery as the first head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation—and how that changed when he became the CEO of Trinity Health. Read our interview with Richard.
Why Mayo Clinic's CEO wants to serve 200 million patients—and how he plans to do it
John Noseworthy explains how the Mayo Clinic is forgoing traditional M&A to instead use "knowledge as an integrator." Read our interview with John.
Cleveland Clinic CEO's single best tip on building a career: 'Shamelessly steal.'
Toby Cosgrove explains how—despite barely getting into med school—he's now the head of the Cleveland Clinic, how he sees the industry, and how one tactic is key to his management success. Read our interview with Toby.
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