Daily Briefing Blog

Interviews with the influential

Our conversations with leading physician executives


Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

How did Toby Cosgrove's life change after being named CEO of Cleveland Clinic? What advice does Providence Health's Rod Hochman have for aspiring clinician leaders? 

If you regularly read the Daily Briefing, you probably know the answers.

Modern Healthcare this week named Cosgrove, Hochman, and 48 other prominent doctors to their annual list of the 50 "Most Influential" physician executives—and several of these top leaders have shared secrets of their careers in exclusive Daily Briefing interviews.

Below, see excerpts from our conversations with Cosgrove, Hochman, Mayo Clinic's John Noseworthy, and more. (We've denoted where they stand on Modern Healthcare's list by inserting a number in front of their names.)

2. Richard Gilfillan, president and CEO of Trinity Health

Q: You've said you want to have a Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) Accountable Care Organization in every one of Trinity Health's markets. Why is that important?

Gilfillan: First because it directly aligns with our mission to be a compassionate transforming healing presence within our communities—to deliver better outcomes for our patients.

Second, the MSSP provides us with a business model that supports that mission. I believe a central component of our business in the future will be being accountable for the total outcomes for a population. We will succeed if we excel at delivering better health, better care and reduced costs for that population... Third, it was a stress test for our regional health ministries. It required us to build deeper relationships with our physicians and to find out what our potential was to create clinically integrated networks in each ministry. 

Finally, while the program may not be perfect today we expect that, over time, CMS will modify it to ensure that it is sustainable. We will use this population management foundation to care for more populations covered by other payers. It will be a key driver of our evolution into a "People-Centered Health System."

Read the rest of How an ACO champion—now a health system CEO—plans to put one in every market

6. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic

Q: You've spoken about an ambitious goal—by 2020, to have Mayo serving 200 million patients. At the same time, you're not taking a traditional M&A approach to grow your footprint.

Noseworthy: We want to optimize what Mayo Clinic has done for years:  providing face-to-face care for people who are seeking hope and solutions. And in this very challenging environment, optimization on that level is no small order—we're focused like a laser on that.

We have 400 or more engineering projects in flight right now, many of which are conducted to improve the safety and quality of our care and reduce the cost of our care.

But at the same time, we want to extend our reach. There's both a humanitarian  and a business side to this major initiative.

Read the rest of Why Mayo Clinic's CEO wants to serve 200 million patients—and how he plans to do it

13. Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic 

Q: What was unexpected about becoming a CEO? As you got in the job and started to find your footing, what surprised you about it?

Cosgrove: First, the change was dramatic. Everything from the clothes I wear, who I talked to, where I hung out, and even what I read—it all transformed in a hurry.

But here was the biggest change. As a surgeon, if I did two or three or four operations during the day, I could go to the intensive care unit and see my accomplishment: I either did well or I didn’t do well.

But as CEO, I'll make decisions, and won't know the results of those for a couple years.

Another big difference is as a surgeon, even a busy surgeon, you'd say, "I'm taking my family off for vacation," and you'd stop and devote your time to something else. Now, my job is all the time. There's no off the grid, no turning off your phone and disappearing, so you're always involved.

Read the rest of Cleveland Clinic CEO's single best tip on building a career: 'Shamelessly steal.'

19. Ram Raju, president and CEO of New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.

Q: Why did you choose to spend your hospital administration career in the public system?

Raju: My revelation came when [the Institute of Medicine] wrote the primer on unequal treatment. That primer opened my eyes. It said the greatest country in the word—the richest and the most advanced country in the world—still has people in certain parts of the country who cannot get health care. People die of advanced diseases because they simply cannot get to a doctor because of where they live or they don't have the money, they don't have insurance or they live on the wrong side of the train tracks.

Honestly, I was extremely shocked to think about it because I had always looked at health care through my own eyes. So that was the time I decided to move into public hospital systems. It was 2002, and I never left. This is my 12th year in the public system.

People thought I was absolutely nuts because I took a job that paid maybe 10% of my previous salary. But health care disparities is a passionate subject for me. I believe strongly that health care is a fundamental right. It should be a human right. And, it should be a civil right. I don't think we should let people either go bankrupt or die because they happen to live in the wrong part of the city or they are the wrong color or they don't have enough money.

Read the rest of Was it ‘absolutely nuts’ to take a 90% pay cut? A CEO reflects.

33. Rod Hochman, president and CEO, Providence Health & Services

Q: What advice would you give today to an aspiring physician leader?

Hochman: I always like to think in terms of clinician leaders… It's different today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Today, I'd recommend to all of them: You've got to get your executive MBA. You've got to punch that ticket in some way.

Then what you need to do is be in an organization with an environment that's willing to put you into jobs and positions so you can hone your skills. You need to be able to run a clinic, or be able to direct a program, or be part of a strategy council. In other words, you need to be in an organization that understands the necessity and value of developing physician and clinician leaders.

Also, get a mentor early—really early—on in your career. Maybe one, maybe two, maybe three.

Read the rest of Why one CEO wants his staff to be disruptive