Hospital Leader to Know: Dr. Peter Slavin, CEO of Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital CEO Peter Slavin, MD, can pinpoint the moment he started on the path towards a career in medicine. When he was five, the young Dr. Slavin came down with a severe case of pneumonia. His physicians could not say if he would survive, and when he did, "From that point on, I always talked about being a doctor," he told the Harvard Business School's Bulletin. "I remember being mesmerized by the technology around me and by the kind and helpful nurses and doctors at Boston Children's Hospital. It's not uncommon for physicians to have had profound healthcare experiences at an early age."

Dr. Slavin has been president of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston since 2003. With years of experience in clinical medicine, business and administration under his belt, Dr. Slavin has also served as chairman and CEO of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, which supports 1,700 physician members. Because of his historical investment in the success of his hospital and the physicians that rely on MGPO for financial and business-related services, Dr. Slavin is cautious about private-sector solutions and the notion that industry problems will be easily fixed by health reform.

"Healthcare has so many ethical and society ramifications that need to be dealt with as public policy," he told the Bulletin. "As for the notion that private-sector efficiency automatically reduces costs, consider that most private health insurance companies spend 10 to 30 percent on administrative expenses and profits before they start paying for healthcare, whereas government's administrative costs for Medicare are only about five percent."

He also worries that the education of the untrained consumer — which many have suggested as a way to reduce costs through competition — may not be possible. When it comes down to it, he said, many consumers will find it hard to understand the complexities of the insurance and payment process.

From 1997-1999, Dr. Slavin served as president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1984 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1990. Dr. Slavin also completed his training in internal medicine at Mass General, where he served as senior vice president and chief medical officer from 1994-1997.

Read more on notable hospital leaders:

-Hospital Leader to Know: Dennis Keefe of the Cambridge Health Alliance

-Hospital Leader to Know: Glenn Hackbarth, JD, Chair of MedPAC

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