40 of the Most Powerful People in Health Care

On January 5, Becker's Orthopedic & Spine posted a list of the 40 most powerful people in health care, in no particular order.

Since passing the Accountable Care Act in 2010, health care has become a major sticking point in the minds of millions of Americans. With the changes that have already been implemented and the upcoming changes expected in 2013, more attention is being placed on health care and who is instrumental in its successes and failures.

On January 5, Becker’s Orthopedic & Spine author Rachel Fields posted a list, “40 of the Most Powerful People in Healthcare.”

Here are the first 10 (be on the lookout for the remaining 30 to be posted over the next couple of days):

Mark T. Bertolini, Chairman, CEO, and President, Aetna

Bertolini recently described his company as "an evolving technology services company with a big insurance vehicle" in an interview with Healthcare IT News. Aetna has been investing in research and development in the last decade, and its recent $6 billion health IT acquisitions and development of new applications are part of a strategy simplify system use. Aetna has made headlines lately because of disputes between the insurer and hospital chain HCA, which has pushed for rates that Aetna says are "significantly higher than other area hospitals," according to a Palm Beach Post report. About 36,000 Aetna clients hang in the balance between HCA's East Florida affiliate and Aetna in the negotiation.

Donald Berwick, MD, Administer, CMS

Dr. Berwick strongly believes in the need to redistribute health care resources from the rich to the poor and has been criticized for his favorable statements about the British health care system. Dr. Berwick has been quoted as saying that "sick people tend to be poorer and … poor people tend to be sicker and … any healthcare funding program that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate."

John Blufod III, Chair-elect of the board of trustees, American Hospital Association

He has said that a "special area of focus" during his chairmanship for the AHA will be to create a culture of wellness among health care employees that will hopefully extend into the communities they serve.

Richard M. Bracken, Chairman and CEO, Hospital Corporation of America

HCA recently announced the company will pay Bank of America $1.5 billion to buy back more than one-sixth of the hospital operator's outstanding shares, which have reportedly been battered by a slowdown at operating rooms and worries about Medicare cuts. Mr. Bracken said he views the repurchasing of the common stuck as an accretive investment in the company and an opportunity to enhance stockholder value.

Angela F. Braly, Chair of the board of directors, President, and CEO, WellPoint

Under her leadership, the company's commitment to its mission has been strengthened by diversifying its business portfolio to offer more comprehensive health solutions. Ms. Braly has led the company in the divestiture of WellPoint's prescription benefits management business to Express Scripts, increased transparency through the Anthem Care Comparison tool to provide cost information to consumers and the measurement of progress made in improving quality of care through a proprietary Member Health Index.

William F. Carpenter, Chairman of the board, President, and CEO, LifePoint Hospitals

Under Mr. Carpenter's leadership, the company started a transitional services division that is present at the creation of a deal to work side-by-side with the development team from the moment a deal is struck. LifePoint formed a joint venture with Duke University Health System in Jan. 2011, creating an entity designed to improve health care delivery by creating flexible affiliation options for community hospitals. Duke/LifePoint is one of the first joint ventures between an academic health system and a hospital operations company.

Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, Director, AHRQ

As director of AHRQ, her primary focus has been on reducing medical mistakes, improving consistency of health care across disciplines and calculating the financial toll of health care decisions. AHRQ has recently funded several successful research projects that promote patient safety, including an initiative to reduce hospital-acquired infections in Michigan. Ms. Clancy told The Hill in Sept. 2011 that researchers saw "dramatic" results by using a basic checklist combined with a different approach from hospital leadership and a system that asked employees to "check and balance" one another. AHRQ is now working with other stakeholders to expand the experiment to other conditions and regions.

Richard L. Clarke, DHA, FHFMA, President and CEO, HFMA

During Mr. Clarke's tenure, HFMA has grown 40 percent, and operating revenue has grown 408 percent. Mr. Clarke has long supported the viewpoint that the U.S. health care system is economically unsustainable, and this conviction led HFMA to launch an examination into the principles and components of a new health care system. This examination has taken shape in public and private demonstration projects, as well as in the 2010 health care reform law. Mr. Clarke spearheaded HFMA's Value Project, which gathered the support of 17 leading hospitals and health systems to identify how hospitals can "bend the cost curve" while improving quality. The first Value Project report was released in June 2011.

David Cordani, CEO, Cigna

Mr. Cordani ecently led the Bloomfield, Pa.-based company in rebranding itself for the first time in a generation. The company recently adjusted its brand to market to individuals as well as employers, spending $25 million on a rebranding effort that includes television and print advertising, a new social media presence and a softer, less corporate logo. The company has also dropped the all-capital CIGNA spelling of its name. Mr. Cordani said personalization is important to contemporary consumers, and Cigna wanted to connect better with its customers.

Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, MD, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic

Dr. Cosgrove and his health system have made headlines in recent months after the CEO criticized proposed rules for accountable care organizations, saying they create "significant barriers" that would discourage hospitals from adopting the new model. Cleveland Clinic is one of several prominent national health systems that has declined participation in the "pioneer" ACO program, a blow to the Obama administration considering that the program was designed for systems exactly like Cleveland Clinic.

Part 1 (1-10) Part 2 (11-20) Part 3 (21-30) Part 4 (31-40)

Source:Fields, R. (January 5, 2012). 40 of the Most Powerful People in Healthcare. Becker's Orthopedic & Spine.