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April 27, 2015

Modern Healthcare names the industry's 'Top 25 Women'

Daily Briefing

Modern Healthcare this week released its sixth biennial list of the "Top 25 Women in Healthcare," recognizing top female leaders in a variety of health care sectors.

To create the list, the magazine and the Furst Group received nearly 200 nominations between Dec. 15, 2014 and Feb. 6 for female leaders at hospitals, health systems, physician organizations, insurance companies, suppliers, trade and professional groups, and the federal government. An editorial review board comprised of the magazine's senior editors selected the 25 honorees based on the following criteria:

  • Successfully serving an organization or company as a leader or manager;
  • Demonstrating the ability to effect change within the health industry;
  • Showing a willingness to share knowledge with other health care leaders;
  • Serving as a role model to other female executives in health care; and
  • Assuming a leadership role in health care beyond the candidate's organization.

This year's list includes high-level female administrators at key government health care agencies, including HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and acting Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) chief Karen DeSalvo. While the magazine notes that the growing number of women serving in senior-level positions is indicative of burgeoning diversity in the health care industry, government and industry reports suggest female leaders remain significantly underrepresented in executive positions.

These three STEM fields are dominated by women. Why?

Lawrence Prybil, a professor of health management and policy at the University of Kentucky, says, "There remain tremendous inequalities. It has to change."

In a recent American College of Healthcare Executives membership survey, 22% of male executive respondents were CEOs, while just 11% were female. In addition, the survey found that the median salary of women executives that was 20% lower than that of male colleagues with the same education and experience.

According to Modern Healthcare, mentorship programs and career development initiatives can help give women access to new opportunities and provide them exposure within the company. In addition, giving women equal access on governing boards can help diversify companies' agendas and provide organizations with unique perspectives.

Women make up 80% of health care workers—but just 40% of executives

Who made the list

Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Women in Healthcare in 2015—in alphabetical order—are:

  • Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog Group;
  • Maureen Bisognano, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement;
  • Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Health System;
  • Deborah Bowen, president and CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives;
  • Mary Brainerd, president and CEO of HealthPartners;
  • Ruth Brinkley, CEO of KentuckyOne Health;
  • Previous lists



  • Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of HHS;
  • Debra Cafaro, CEO of Ventas;
  • Christine Cassel, president and CEO of the National Quality Forum;
  • Pamela Cipriano, president of the American Nurses Association;
  • Karen DeSalvo, ONC chief;
  • Susan Desmond-Hellman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
  • Susan DeVore, president and CEO of the North Carolina-based Premier;
  • Tejal Gandhi, president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation;
  • Patricia Hemingway Hall, president and CEO of Health Care Service Corp.;
  • Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans;
  • Carol Keehan, president and CEO of Catholic Health Association;
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mopurey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
  • Donna Lynne, group president Kaiser Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals;
  • Patricia Maryland, president of health care operations and COO at Ascension Health;
  • Elizabeth Nabel, president of Brigham and Women's Hospital;
  • Debra Osteen, SVP and president of the behavioral health division at Universal Health Services;
  • Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System;
  • Lynn Simon, president of clinical services and chief quality officer at Community Health Systems;
  • Penny Wheeler, president and CEO of Allina Health (Modern Healthcare [1], 4/25 [subscription required]; Modern Healthcare [2], 4/25 [subscription required]; Evans, Modern Healthcare, 4/25 [subscription required]).

The takeaway: Modern Healthcare released its list of top female leaders in health systems, physician organizations, insurance companies, suppliers, trade and professional groups, and the federal government.

My 'epiphany' about bias in health care: Hear from a 'top' woman in health care

The Daily Briefing sat down with the Advisory Board's Michele Molden, who was named to the magazine's 2009 list while she was serving as the president and CEO of the Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, to discuss what she's learned in her time as a "top" female leader and how organizations can facilitate the development of women leaders.


More from today's Daily Briefing
  1. Current ArticleModern Healthcare names the industry's 'Top 25 Women'

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