20 People Who Make Healthcare Better—2012

HealthLeaders Media Staff, for HealthLeaders Media , December 13, 2012
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They are nurses and physicians. They are researchers and executives. They are providers and payers. They are watchdogs and innovators. And they are patients. They are this year's HealthLeaders 20 honorees, selected for their efforts to make healthcare better. Their stories are sometimes tinged with struggles or challenges, but always, ultimately, with success.

HealthLeaders 20

Nancy M. Schlichting
Henry Ford Health System
Detriot, MI

Since 2003, the CEO of Henry Ford Health System has reinvented the culture at her health system around solid fundamentals of performance and quality, all while keeping a close eye on changes in the healthcare marketplace. Schlichting attributes her success to being open to new ideas. [Read more]

Hr Jim Withers, MD
Founder and Medical Director
Operation Safety Net
Pittsburgh, PA

For 20 years, Withers has brought the value of the house call to the homeless through Operation Safety Net, a volunteer organization where more than 100 volunteers, including clinicians, have each treated thousands of underserved in the streets and clinics. [Read more]


Michael Graves
Architect and designer
Michael Graves and Associates
Philadelpha, PA

The celebrated architect and designer's sudden paralysis in 2003 profoundly impacted him and his work. Graves' experience inspired him turn his talents to personal health product design and then hospital room furniture with the goal to transform a patient's constrained daily life from difficult to gratifying. [Read more]

Hr Bob Malizzo
Patient safety advocate
University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago
Hobart, IN

In reaction to the tragic death of his daughter Michelle, this businessman and former mayor serves on the patient safety committee at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, working to prevent hospital errors and provide answers and accountability for injured patients and their families. [Read more]

Hr Joseph Kvedar, MD
Founder and Director
Center for Connected Health
Boston, MA

Kvedar is founder and director for the Center for Connected Health, part of Boston-based Partners HealthCare System. He started the Center in 1995 and pioneered research into connected health as a reliable model for healthcare delivery, proving improvements to patient health, provider efficiency, and a hospital's bottom line. [Read more]

Hr Richard Merkin, MD
Heritage Health Prize
Washington, D.C.

To solve complex problems in medicine today, Merkin is assembling a community of math whizzes and asked them to team up and compete with each other for $3 million Heritage Health Prize, a data-mining, predictive-modeling competition to reduce avoidable hospital visits, launched in April of last year. So far, 1,300 teams have submitted more than 22,000 entries. [Read more]

Hr Patrick McGuire, CPA
St. John Providence Health System
Warren, MI

As the senior vice president and CFO at St. John Providence Health System in Warren, MI, McGuire has played a pivotal role in his system's financial transformation, but it's his innovative approach to physician partnership that sets him and his organization apart. [Read more]

Hr Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Princeton, NJ

In her 10 years as president and CEO of RWJF, Lavizzo-Mourey has deftly guided the multibillion-dollar philanthropic organization to take on and speak out about what she terms "the important cultural changes that are necessary for us as a nation if we are going to become healthier." The foundation is increasing its use of tools other than grant making, such as strategic communications and collaborations, to try to achieve its goals. [Read more]

Hr Linda Aiken, PhD, RN
Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania

A former heart surgery nurse, professor of nursing and sociology, and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, Aiken is arguably the most well-known investigator of how nursing workforce issues affect hospital quality and outcomes, specifically inpatient mortality and nursing shortages. [Read more]

Hr John E. Wennberg, MD
Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice
Hanover, NH

For Wennberg, his findings on the variation of healthcare delivery many times over the past 40 years has shaped his view of healthcare in America—and his life's work. In 1988, Wennberg started the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Wennberg is also founding editor of The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which examines patterns of medical resource intensity and utilization in the United States. [Read more]

Hr Ginny Ehrlich, MPH, D.Ed
Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Portland, OR

Ehrlich has led the Alliance for a Healthier Generation since 2008, working to prevent childhood obesity through increasing children’s access to healthy foods and physical activity at schools and communities nationwide. Her program aims to reach kids in as many ways as possible, to connect and teach them good habits early. [Read more]

Hr Aaron Shirley, MD
Jackson, MS

This retired pediatrician and civil rights activist has dedicated much of his life to solving healthcare disparity and access issues in the poverty-stricken Delta Region north of Jackson, MS. He hasn't finished though—recently he is building 15 "health houses," a primary care model developed in Iran, for the population north of Jackson. [Read more]

Hr Sharon Gentry, RN, MSN, AOCN, CBCN
Breast nurse navigator
Derrick L. Davis Forsyth Regional Cancer Center
Winston-Salem, N.C

When Gentry became one of North Carolina's first nurse navigators 12 years ago, there was no blueprint, no road map for her new role. So Gentry created one. Navigation goes beyond simply guiding patients through treatment. Gentry understands that there's more to a patient than simply her disease. [Read more]

Hr Douglas Dieterich, MD
Gastroenterologist and Professor
Mount Sinai Medical Center
New York, NY

Dieterich, a gastroenterologist, has dedicated his career in medicine to "doing battle" with his own illness, hepatitis C, for which he is now a nationally recognized expert. In treating patients, his own experience is his "trump card." [Read more]

Hr Bruce Bodaken
CEO and President
Blue Shield of CA
San Francisco, CA

Twelve years ago, the chair, CEO, and president of Blue Shield of California took over a struggling health insurance company. At his retirement, Bodaken points to his work in health reform and the risks he took to speak up for change in the industry as his legacy, leaving Blue Shield in the dominant position in the California market. [Read more]

Hr Aurelia Boyer, RN, MBA
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
New York, NY

A registered nurse with a passion for data accuracy, Boyer moved up to visionary CIO at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. By partnering with clinicians, she energizes her IT staff to make dramatic quality improvements—such as cutting the number of deep-vein thrombosis (DVTs) resulting from venous thromboembolisms (VTEs) by nearly 50% in 12 months. [Read more]

Hr Lori Swanson
Attorney General
St. Paul, MN

For the Minnesota Attorney General, Accretive Health Inc.'s alleged violations of state and federal health privacy laws and state debt collection laws "has no place in an American hospital." Swanson's work on the case against the revenue cycle management and debt collection firm resulted in a $2.5 million settlement for the state of Minnesota, and a ban against Accretive doing business in the state of Minnesota for at least two years. [Read more]

Hr Hiep T. Nguyen, MD
Pediatric TeleUrology Service and the Robotics Surgery, Research and Training Center
Boston Children's Hospital

At Boston Children's Hospital, Nguyen works as an attending urologist and the director of the Pediatric TeleUrology Service. As the director of the Robotics Surgery, Research, and Training Center, Nguyen coordinates the 40 or more robotic projects the department works on simultaneously. Under Nguyen's leadership, the hospital formed the International Health Center, through which it coordinates trips and educational programs internationally. [Read more] Hr Ellen Beck, MD
Medical Student Education for the Division of Family Medicine at UC San Diego Medical Center
San Diego, CA

Fifteen years ago, this Canadian professor of family medicine at UC San Diego Medical Center collaborated with her students to build the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project to address the "desert of access to care for the underserved" in a beach area church. Since then, the clinic has expanded to four additional sites in San Diego, treating 2,000 patients a year. [Read more]

Hr Gerilynn Sevenikar
VP of Patient Financial Services
Sharp HealthCare System
San Diego, CA

As vice president of patient financial services for the Sharp HealthCare System in San Diego, Sevenikar has helped more than 32,000 self-pay patients "navigate through a maze" of government health coverage programs since the recession in 2009, helping her employer recover $4.7 million in revenue. [Read more]





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