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Marketing to Medical Staff Leaders in Healthcare

Understanding Their Role

The medical staff of the hospital is made up of a diverse group of educated, licensed professionals including physicians, nurses, psychologists, podiatrists, and dentists. They drive the type and quality of care in the hospital.1 The medical staff is usually led by a physician called the Medical Director, Vice President of Medical Affairs (VPMA) or Chief Medical Officer (CMO). These physician leaders are top level executives in the hospital.2


The profession of physician is heavily regulated and restricted. Physicians’ professional conduct is closely monitored. Physician have a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD, or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, DO) and remain the final authority on the care provided in the hospital. This can sometimes lead to friction between physicians and the business / administrative leadership of the hospital. The pressures of healthcare reform in the US to drive down cost and quantitatively measure care can increase this friction. The leader of the medical staff is generally the liaison between the business and medical sides of the hospital. Many CMOs and VPMAs are now physicians with business or management degrees with the capabilities to bridge the gap between financial and medical viewpoints.3


Medical staffs are formally organized, with clear by-laws, rules and policies. They are responsible for credentialing and setting privileges. Members of the staff are clearly categorized (for example, ‘active’, ‘affiliate’, ‘provisional’,)4 and in addition to strong licensing requirements, physicians must demonstrate continuing participation in educational programs.5 Many hospitals have now added a ‘hospitalist’ physician. The hospitalist focuses solely on patients in the hospital. Many of the primary care doctors and surgeons the patient met with before a procedure have their own practices and a large number of other patients. The hospitalist can focus on proving care for patients in the hospital, reducing strain on the primary care physicians.6


“You can think of me as the doctor who represents both the medical staff, all the doctors in the hospital, and the administration. I have one foot in each door. I help the medical staff come to the hospital and move their way so they can do their patient care. I help the administration work with the doctors to meet their needs.” – Beth Raucher, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Lutheran HealthCare, Brooklyn, NY7

1 Griffin, Donald J. Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work. 4th ed. 40 Tall Pine Drive, Sudbury, MA 01776, 978-443-5000, www.jblearning.com: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.

2 Larkin, Howard. “The New Hospital CMO: Influencer-in-Chief. (cover Story).” H&HN: Hospitals & Health Networks 86, no. 3 (2012): 30 – 34. EBSCOhost(74530963).

3 Berra, Amanda. “Clarifying VPMA and CMO roles.” The Advisory Board Company. August 2014. Accessed 12/8/15, available at: www.advisory.com/research/physician-executive-coun...

4 See, as an example: www.vchca.org/docs/medical-staff/rules-10-2011-fin...

5 Griffin, Donald J. Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work. 4th ed. 40 Tall Pine Drive, Sudbury, MA 01776, 978-443-5000, www.jblearning.com: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.

6 Nabili, Siamak. MD, MPH. “What Is a Hospitalist?” MedicineNet.com. December 2014. Accessed 12/8/15, available at: www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey...

7 “HISTalk Interviews Beth Raucher, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Lutheran HealthCare.” Medsphere. Accessed 12/8/15, available at:www.medsphere.com/resources/news/medsphere-in-the-...



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A hospital’s medical staff is made up of its physicians and select other care practitioners and professionals. They are the chief influencers or the quality and level of care in the organization. The medical staff develops healthcare policies, protocols and rules for the hospital.