Public Policy

Larry Wellikson: Exceptional Hospitalists Bring Positive Change to Health Care Industry


Larry Wellikson, MD, SFHM
At a time when the U.S. healthcare system is being reshaped, hospitalists, such as those mentioned above and oh-so-many more, are already making large and small steps forward. We are helping to create a new healthcare enterprise, based on value, efficiency, effectiveness, and putting the patient first.

Exceptional hospitalists

Dr. Cawley

Dr. Gottlieb

Dr. Wachter

Dr. Gorman

Dr. Conway

Even though hospital medicine and SHM are still relatively young, we can be very proud of what our specialty already has brought to changing our nation’s health care for the better. Many of these accomplishments, from winning the prestigious Eisenberg Award to our change leadership by SHM’s Center for Healthcare Innovation and Improvement at more 300 hospitals to the extraordinary growth of our specialty, have been well chronicled in The Hospitalist and elsewhere the last few years.

I wanted to use this month’s column to highlight the unique career directions of a few SHM members to shine a bright light on the influence hospitalists are making nationwide. Certainly, there are many more hospitalists beyond this group of five that I have selected, but this small cadre should serve as an example of the talent and reach of our specialty—with only more and greater things ahead to come in the future.

Chief Medical Officer of CMS

Pat Conway, MD, SFHM, is a pediatric hospitalist and the former chair of SHM’s Public Policy Committee. He left his pediatric academic practice to become a White House fellow, then returned to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to serve as chief medical officer (CMO). When Don Berwick was in charge of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), he reached out to Pat and asked him to come to Washington to be part of Medicare’s senior team as the CMO for CMS. In this role, Pat has been a nationally recognized leader in performance improvement and patient safety, and he has been instrumental in bringing about evolutionary changes to the largest healthcare program in the world. Pat will be sharing his perspectives as a keynote speaker at HM13 (check out our 10-page HM13 preview starting on p. 45).

Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

Scott Gottlieb, MD, is a practicing hospitalist in New York City, but he is better known as a leading expert in healthcare policy, most recently acting as an advisor to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. From 2005 to 2007, Scott was a deputy commissioner at the FDA. He has worked as a senior advisor to the administrator at CMS, where he played an instrumental role in the implementation of the Medicare Drug Benefit in 2004.

Scott is best known for his frequent contributions to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and Forbes. He has held editorial positions at the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association, regularly appears as a guest commentator on CNBC, and is a frequent contributor to Politico.

At SHM, Scott has brought his national viewpoint to the Public Policy Committee. He proudly touts his experience as a practicing hospitalist as bringing a front-line reality to his national recognition and much-sought-after critical thinking about healthcare policy.

Chairman of the American Board of Internal Medicine

Bob Wachter, MD, MHM, was a thought leader in HM before our specialty even had a name, writing the initial peer-reviewed articles and coining the term “hospitalist.” Bob has built a pre-eminent hospitalist program at the University of California at San Francisco and helped influence and populate much of academic HM. His Wachter’s World blog ( is one of the most widely read medical blogs, reaching an audience well beyond our specialty.

Bob was one of the first presidents of SHM—back when we were known as NAIP, or the National Association of Inpatient Physicians—and set SHM on its strong growth and innovative direction that has made us the envy of other medical specialty societies. Last year, Modern Healthcare hailed Bob as the 14th most influential physician executive in the entire country.

On the ABIM board, Bob has represented the best of HM and brought our innovative spirit and our commitment to improvement, safety, and change leadership, culminating this year in the ABIM chairmanship. Bob will offer his unique insights into HM and the national healthcare agenda at HM13 (www.hospitalmedicine

CEO: Telemedicine for the ICU

Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MHM, is a hospitalist and intensivist who made her mark on HM as the chief medical officer (CMO) of IPC: The Hospitalist Company. As she offered her talents to SHM, she became chairman of SHM’s Public Policy Committee and eventually SHM president.

For the last few years, Mary Jo has been the CEO of ICUMedicine. In this role, she has been active around the country, bringing ICU competencies to many community hospitals by offering a telemedicine solution for critically ill patients. This unconventional approach to meeting a glaring need fits into Mary Jo’s career history of looking for new and different ways to bring better healthcare solutions to the front lines of patient care. Last year, Modern Healthcare recognized Mary Jo as one of the most influential female physician executives in the country.

CEO, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Hospitals

After leaving Duke University, Pat Cawley, MD, MBA, MHM, started his career as a community-based hospitalist leader. After a number of leadership roles at SHM, Pat served as SHM president and was elected a Master in Hospital Medicine in 2012.

Pat initially was recruited to MUSC to build and manage their HM group. Soon he was tapped to be the CMO at MUSC. Earlier this year, Pat became the first hospitalist to be chosen to run a major academic medical center when he was promoted to CEO at MUSC.

In recent years, Pat has been a leading voice as the American Hospital Association looks to involve physician leaders. He is a rising star at AHA, helping to merge the cultures of hospital administrators and physicians to create the hospital of the future.

Hospitalists Contribute at the Highest Level

Obviously, I could go on and on, adding other hospitalists who are making unique and important contributions at the local and national level. It is interesting that at a time when many are still trying to get their heads around just what HM is, we already can recognize the immense talent that resides in hospitalist groups across the country. At a time when the U.S. healthcare system is being reshaped, hospitalists, such as those mentioned above and oh-so-many more, are already making large and small steps forward. We are helping to create a new healthcare enterprise, based on value, efficiency, effectiveness, and putting the patient first.

SHM wants to continue to be the place where the innovators and thought leaders of today and tomorrow can come together to multiply their efforts. The challenges are daunting, but the results can be rewarding, and the members of SHM are ready to bring our talents, energies, and commitments to do our part in this great American journey.

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