Must CMOs Always Be Licensed Physicians?
An increasing number of physicians are getting MBAs in addition to their medical degrees, the New York Times reported last year. Since the late 1990s, the number of joint MD/MBA programs in the nation has increased from under 10 to 65, according to the Times, which noted that the "trend is being driven by the need to become more entrepreneurial and savvy as the business of medicine grows more complicated."
Smith, the former CMO at Northwest Community Hospital, apparently is now in business for himself, too. He denies that his employment ended because he is not licensed, but declines to comment further, citing a confidentiality agreement, according to media reports.
Currently listed as president of Leighton Consulting Inc. on Linked in, Smith describes himself as a "physician executive with over 25 yeas of progressive leadership in a variety of complex and diverse healthcare settings. Proven abilities in program development and improvement through teamwork, with a focus on customer service, quality patient outcomes, medical staff relations and managing institutional priorities."
When Smith was hired, leadership at Northwest believed they had found what they were looking for. At Northwest Community Hospital, the CMO is "responsible" for clinical excellence, operational effectiveness and the management of more than 1000 physicians who care for 450,000 patients a year, the CEO Crowther says.
Despite the controversy since Smith's departure, "in recent years, we have built one of the most respected medical staffs in the area," Crowther adds. He mentions a list of them: "recognition from U.S. News and World Report for six different medical specialties and the highest award from the Joint Commission, the nation's predominant healthcare accrediting body."
By not disclosing Smith's lack of a license, however, Northwest didn't help itself in being "transparent" about its medical operations. The local media says that the hospital is in a fight with rivals to gain a larger share of its market, including the fact the hospital hasn't posted an annual operating gain since 2008.
While Northwest Community Hospital evaluates who will be its next CMO and may continue to spur debate about qualifications for that position, some hospital systems don't have a CMO to begin with.
Snow's hospital, the 445-bed Shawnee Mission Medical Center, part of the Adventist Health system, only hired its first CMO nine months ago. "That came about because the CEO had perceived there would be difficulties implementing computerized physician order entry systems, and our hospital electronic medical records," Snow says. "It's a very difficult process and very difficult for physicians."
The new CMO, Larry Botts, MD, "will help us continue our tradition of open communication with our medical staff so that we can ensure we're providing the highest quality care possible for our community," said Shawnee president and CEO, Samuel H. Turner, Sr. said in a statement.
For the record, Botts is a licensed pulmonologist.
Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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