Physician versus non-physician CEOs: The effect of a leader’s professional background on the quality of hospital management and health care

Amol Gupta


Since 1935, the number of hospitals managed by chief executive officers (CEOs) who are also physicians has decreased by 90%. Today, only 5% of hospitals in the United States are run by CEOs with a medical degree. However, higher ranked hospitals are more commonly run by CEOs with physician backgrounds. Additionally, overall quality scores in physician-run hospitals were 25% higher than those run by non-physicians. It is not clear whether this association between physician management and a higher quality of hospital management and health care results from the CEO’s professional (medical) background. Considering this, the following editorial discusses what characteristics of physicians and non-physicians may influence their capacity to lead a hospital and how that may impact the quality of management and health care within a hospital. Ultimately, this article aims to further the debate over physician versus. non-physician leadership, building a foundation for further research that may determine the characteristics of a CEO that are essential to guiding positive change in their hospital, refocusing health care back to its original intention: patient care.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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