May 1, 2017

Toby Cosgrove stepping down as Cleveland Clinic CEO

Daily Briefing

Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove on Monday announced that he will step down from his position this year.

Cosgrove is one of the nation's most prominent health care CEOs, and he received requests from former President Barack Obama and President Trump to serve as secretary of the Veterans Affairs. Cosgrove declined both offers, choosing to stay at the clinic. Cosgrove currently serves on a 16-member White House advisory panel of business leaders.

The Clinic's Governance Committee has asked Cosgrove to remain with the Clinic in an advisory role.

Cleveland Clinic is Ohio's largest employer and ranked No. 2 in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 ranking of U.S. best hospitals.

Cosgrove's tenure at Cleveland Clinic

Cosgrove, who credited his career to being "a shameless stealer of ideas," has served as CEO since 2004—a position he didn't anticipate taking on when he started at the Clinic in 1975 as a cardiac surgeon. In a 2014 interview with the Daily Briefing, he said, "I never expected I would wind up being a CEO. That was never part of my plan—or going into hospital administration in any form, really."

Cleveland Clinic CEO's single best tip on building a career: 'Shamelessly steal.

A statement from the Clinic said that under Cosgrove's leadership, revenues have grown from $3.7 billion in 2004 to $8.5 billion in 2016, and total visits have increased from 2.8 million to 7.1 million. The clinic also has expanded its presence globally, opening locations in Toronto and Abu Dhabi. Cleveland Clinic London is expected to start seeing patients in 2020, according to the Clinic's statement.

According to the clinic's statement, Cosgrove as CEO "emphasized patient care and patient experience." The clinic under Cosgrove's leadership hired its first Chief Patient Experience Officer and reorganized its clinical services into a patient-centered model designed around organs and diseases rather than around doctors, the statement noted.

Cosgrove also launched wellness initiatives for patients as well as employees. Under Cosgrove's tenure, the Clinic banned smoking on Clinic campuses and cut fried food from cafeterias. The clinic also offers employees no-cost Weight Watchers and gym memberships.

In announcing his decision to step down, Cosgrove said it was "honor and a privilege to be a part of an extraordinary and forward-thinking organization that puts patients at the center of everything we do." He continued, "Cleveland Clinic's world-class reputation of clinical excellence, innovation, medical education, and research was created and will be maintained by the truly dedicated caregivers who work tirelessly to provide the best care to our patients."

Bob Rich, chair of the Cleveland Clinic board of directors, said, "The goal of any leader is to leave an institution better than you found it. Without a doubt, Toby has done that."

Next steps for Cleveland Clinic

According to Cleveland Clinic officials, "In keeping with its model as a physician-led institution, Cleveland Clinic's new president and CEO will be a practicing physician." Officials said the clinic's Board of Directors and Board of Governors will work together to select Cosgrove's successor, a process they expect to conclude this year (Wernowsky, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/1; Coutré, Crain's Cleveland Business, 5/1; AP/U.S. News & World Report, 5/1; Cleveland Clinic release, 5/1).

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