The Beautiful People

Rick Johnson, for HealthLeaders News , November 1, 2007

About a week before I left for Philadelphia to attend the Medical Group Management Association's big conference, a magazine called Travel + Leisure released the results of a survey aimed at rating America's favorite cities.

That San Francisco won the top spot received much less attention from news outlets than how Philadelphia rated in just one element of the survey. Participants of the poll pegged the City of Brotherly Love dead last among 25 major cities for the attractiveness of Philadelphia's people.

Since I'm easily influenced by pseudo-news--especially when it's captured in terse two-minute TV segments--on the streets of Philadelphia I caught myself paying careful attention to the appearance of passersby. I expected the citizens to resemble the cast of ABC's Cavemen, but instead these people were well groomed, pleasant, and--dare I say--very attractive.

Could it be that a reputable magazine like Travel + Leisure published inaccurate survey results? Not likely. The publication didn't go it alone; it partnered on the survey with CNN Headline News--and they're never wrong.

This disconnect between what I was told and what I saw with my own eyes shook my long-held belief in public-opinion polls. But as I pondered and pondered, I eventually came upon the only possible answer.

The estimated 5,000 medical group professionals who attended the conference must be so darn good looking that they more than made up for the repulsiveness of Philadelphia's residents.

But I was doing much more in Philadelphia besides casting judgment on others. If you missed our posts and audio features from the conference, this should get you up to speed:

Declining Reimbursement: William Jessee, MD, president of the Medical Group Management Association, took a few minutes away from the conference to tell me about the critical issues that medical groups face today and how they are dealing with a troubling financial landscape.

A Year of Stark--and More: My colleague, Elyas Bakhtiari, outlines some of the top new developments that the MGMA is following.

An Untapped Resource: I got the chance to talk with Cejka Search's Carol Westfall about how medical groups can develop physician leaders.

Extreme Challenges: In this story I share a few ideas that keynote speaker James Canton, PhD, made at the first general session of the conference. As the title suggests, Canton said that medical groups will need to change to deal with global socioeconomic issues.

Eye of the Tiger: Elyas Bakhtiari attended a concurrent session on one of the big issues of today--physician recruitment--led by Leslie R. Jebson, associate director of the University of Florida Sports Medicine Institute.

On the Road: Random thoughts as I prepared to go to the convention--including voluntary employee benefit associations and a point made by Michael Sachs at the Top Leadership Teams event.

Rick Johnson is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media. He can be reached at

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