Dr. Richard Salluzzo ranks high on list of America's most powerful physician executives

KINGSPORT – Two prominent healthcare magazines have released their list of America’s 50 most powerful physician executives, and Dr. Richard Salluzzo, Wellmont Health System’s president and chief executive officer, is not far from the top.

Dr. Salluzzo, a double-board-certified physician, is ranked No. 6 on the top 50 list, which appears in the May edition of Modern Physician and the May 7 issue of Modern Healthcare, the nation’s foremost authority on healthcare business news. The latter publication has a nationwide circulation of 71,000.

The magazines recently asked readers to nominate and vote for the top physician executives in the nation. The top 50 represent a cross-section of physician executives who run health systems, federal agencies, advocacy groups, insurance companies, unions, journals and academic programs.

Dr. Salluzzo was ranked behind the No. 5 person on the list, Denis Cortese, the president and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Others in the top five include James Mongan, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare System in Boston, and Donald Berwick, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, also in Boston.

Through the safest hospitals initiative he has instituted throughout the Wellmont system, Dr. Salluzzo has become a national figure in the healthcare industry on the issue of patient safety. Modern Healthcare published in April an editorial commentary by Dr. Salluzzo on Wellmont’s effort to define and create a template for the nation’s safest hospitals. In August, he will present Wellmont’s safest hospitals initiative to a national gathering of quality and safety leaders at the Quality Colloquium on the campus of Harvard University.

“It’s our mission to provide everyone in the community access to the best in healthcare, and to achieve that you need a strong leader with vision and a passion for excellence,” said A. Lee Shillito, chairman of the Wellmont Board of Directors. “We have that leader in Dr. Salluzzo, and it’s gratifying to see him recognized for those qualities.”

Since taking the helm of the Wellmont system in 2004, Dr. Salluzzo has led the not-for-profit organization’s transformation to a physician-led healthcare system. He has overseen a financial turnaround that erased a $10 million operating loss and generated a $15 million operating profit in just two years.

In addition, the system under Dr. Salluzzo’s leadership has formed strategic partnerships with key physician groups and leading regional hospitals and has adopted a model of continuous performance improvement and service excellence.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician,” Dr. Salluzzo said, “but any individual recognition that comes my way is merely a reflection of the overall strength of the Wellmont system and the thousands of employees who make it so.”

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