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20 People Who Make Healthcare Better - 2010

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. These are their stories.

HealthLeaders 20

James R. Andrews, MD
Surgeon, Founder, American Sports Medicine Institute

Athletes with millions of dollars resting on the outcome of their surgeries trust him, and have for a couple of decades now. And though he made his money and fame in surgery, in recent years, and as the end of his career approaches, Andrews is spending an awful lot of time, money, and effort on prevention.[Read more]

Hr Kathleen Bartholomew, RN
Seattle, WA

For decades, there was a dirty little secret in healthcare. Everyone knew it existed, but no one wanted to talk about it. The secret was that bad behavior and bullying were rampant. In a supposedly caring profession, some caregivers were not caring at all, to the point that they made lives miserable and disrupted patient care. Kathleen Bartholomew's strong voice shone a light on the problem. She has made it her life's work to end bullying and bad behavior by physicians and nurses. [Read more]

Hr Donald Berwick, MD
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator

So much about leadership is timing. Donald Berwick's timing for assuming the top leadership role at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may make him the perfect man for his times, or just the opposite, depending on who you ask. [Read more]

Hr John Brebbia, MD
Trauma Surgeon

For trauma surgeon John Brebbia, MD, volunteer work in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake was inspired by the memory of a fallen colleague, as much as it was by the knowledge that the practical expertise and care he could provide was desperately needed in the stricken island nation.[Read more]

Hr Leah Binder
CEO, The Leapfrog Group

Watchdog organizations don't always have the best relationships with those they are watching. When asked to describe her relationship with healthcare providers and leaders, Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group, deadpans the answer. "Some of my best friends are in hospitals," she says. She pauses and then laughs. "I promise," she says. "Some of them don't like me but I will tell you that some of them do."[Read more]

Hr David Blumenthal, MD, MPP
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Blumenthal isn't very well known outside of the healthcare industry. But among healthcare providers—especially IT leaders—he's kind of a rock star. When he speaks at healthcare conferences (he is a popular keynote choice) attendees line up afterward to have photos taken with him. [Read more]

Hr Jim Douglas
Governor of Vermont

To find a working, bipartisan, political system that focuses on practical results within budgetary constraints, leave the Beltway and look to the states. In striking contrast to Congress, Vermont provides a great example of what Republicans and Democrats can achieve in healthcare when they agree upon a common goal. And perhaps no one better embodies that bipartisan spirit in the Green Mountain State than long-serving Republican Gov. Jim Douglas. [Read more]

Hr Michael Dowling
President and CEO, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System

Dowling wants to ensure North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System is viewed as an innovator in the industry, an organization that is at the cutting edge and sets the standard by which other healthcare organizations are judged. Technology is a core component of North Shore-LIJ's strategic plan, Dowling says. [Read more]

Hr Elliott Fisher, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School

When asked where he sees himself in 10 years, Fisher commonly hailed as the father of accountable care organizations, is self effacing. "I might be in hiding because ACOs failed," he jokes. [Read more]

Hr John C. Goodman
President and CEO, National Center for Policy Analysis

As head of a think tank that searches for private sector alternatives to government programs that are not working, Goodman is in his element when causing a stir. Whether it's being at odds with the White House or Democrats or Republicans in Congress, Goodman takes special delight in taking jabs at health policy makers. [Read more]

Hr Santiago Horgan, MD
Professor of Surgery

Over the past four years, Horgan, with his surgical team at the University of California San Diego Health System, Santiago Horgan, MD, has performed 80 surgeries that use the body's natural openings—the vagina or the mouth—to remove organs and tissue. The surgical team is well its way to proving it can reduce operating time and the risk of infection, lower the need for anesthesia, minimize pain, and lessen or eliminate scarring, hasten patients' recovery and reduce complications better than with traditional laparoscopic approaches, he says. [Read more]

Hr Ellen Makar, MSN, RN-BC, CPHIMS, CCM
Finance Clinical Coordinator, Yale New Haven Health System

When Ellen Makar began her career as an ICU nurse in the mid-1980s, she started to notice workflow patterns that, if corrected, would increase productivity and patient safety. But changes were never made. "Nursing is one of those nebulous things and has been referred to as the glue that keeps everything together," Makar says. "Nursing can get hidden because the data is part of other data sets and it's not necessarily associated with nursing. So that's what I'm working on."[Read more]

Hr Cmdr. Robert Neil McLay, MD, PhD,
Psychiatrist, USNR

Psychiatrist, Research Director, Naval Medical Center San Diego U.S. Navy Reserve Commander Robert Neil McLay's field of expertise involves post traumatic stress disorder and the effects of combat-induced stress on the brain. He is a pioneer in the use of computer-based virtual reality simulators for treating PTSD. His treatment regimens, which include traditional therapy and consultation, have enjoyed success rates of up to 75%, even for patients with a history of treatment resistance. [Read more]

Hr Diane E. Meier, MD
Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care
Director , Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Meier explains her role during the past 10 years as running a political campaign to convey the value of palliative care to various audiences, including C-suite executives, physicians, nurses, patients, families, policy makers, and philanthropists.[Read more]

Hr David B. Nichols, MD
Primary care physician, aviator

For 31 years, David B. Nichols, MD, has been commuting once a week to Tangier Island, VA, piloting his own plane or helicopter. The 15-minute flight over the Chesapeake takes Nichols to an area where the residents have triple the rate of disease he has seen any place else. Now, as Nichols oversees final touches on the launch of a modern health clinic on the island, he actively faces his own mortality.[Read more]

Hr Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives, (D) California

If history books say that healthcare reform came about under President Obama's watch, it certainly came about in great measure because of Pelosi, for better or worse.[Read more]

Hr Diana Petitti, MD, MPH
Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Arizona State University
Professor of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Arizona College of Medicine

Petitti is a strong proponent that the healthcare industry needs to constantly reevaluate its practices and treatments in light of new evidence. But changing the status quo is often easier said than done, she has learned firsthand.[Read more]

Hr Peter Pronovost, MD
Intensivist, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

A recipient in 2008 of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, Pronovost may be best known for his five-point checklist to prevent central line associated bloodstream infections. He developed the strategy and pilot-tested it at Johns Hopkins, where it virtually eliminated infections, he says.[Read more]

Hr Joseph Smith MD, PhD
Chief Medical and Science Officer, West Wireless Health Institute

At West Wireless, where the mission is to identify technological solutions that dramatically lower the cost of healthcare, Smith is pushing for a future in which today's chronic disease care illness will be tracked, perhaps even diagnosed and prevented, far more efficiently by wireless sensors in the home, on the skin or in the body, woven into clothing or built into appliances. [Read more]

Hr Tony West
Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, U.S. Justice Department

Tony West left a thriving private law practice to return to the Department of Justice as a political appointee when President Obama took office in 2009. Over the last year and half, the department has recovered more than $4 billion lost to healthcare fraud.[Read more]

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8 comments on "20 People Who Make Healthcare Better - 2010"


Bonnie Campbell (9/22/2011 at 3:46 AM)
I agree with you Jeffrey. Impossible to give her credit ...

Jeffrey Patterson (12/9/2010 at 10:07 PM)
I enjoyed reading the profiles on this page. Until I scrolled to Nancy Pelosi. Self-serving politicians have no place on the same page with the innovators listed here. True colors are rarely hidden.

Jim (12/9/2010 at 1:47 PM)
Donald Berwick- You got to be on DRUGS!!! This guy is a known socialist and wants complete redistribution of wealth. As far as Pelosi goes- she is an IDIOT! Remember the health care debacle was slammed through under reconciliation without a single republican voting for it. Congress also did not read it. And the "health insurance" that the government is touting as a success is Medicaid. Here in California it is called Medical. NO ONE takes medicaid nor medical as it pays 9 cents per dollar charged. So with it paying 9% of billed charges and most overhead in a medical office is 40%, you do the math Einstein. I t cost the provider money to see these patients. I do not see Medicare patients either because it pays me 20% on the dollar. Medicare patients are sicker and more costly to see. So all of you out there that think this a good idea- please do some research on your own and don't rely on the disgruntled failures in congress to tell you anything.