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Eric Topol named Most Influential Physician Executive in Healthcare

Apr 30, 2012

(Modern Healthcare, 2012) — The eighth annual Modern Healthcare/Modern Physician ranking of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Healthcare is indicative of the transformation the healthcare industry is undergoing.

A number of the names that have appeared perennially on the list are gone or moved down in the rankings (particularly those with Washington addresses), and eight new names appear this year—including Dr. Eric Topol, who debuts at No. 1 on the strength of his book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care.

While others debate arcane legal points and the philosophical slippery slopes pertaining to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Topol instead writes about how “a propitious convergence of a maturing Internet, ever-increasing bandwidth, near-ubiquitous connectivity, and remarkable miniature pocket computers in the form of mobile phones” are taking physicians and patients where no one has gone before.

Topol throws down the gauntlet immediately by opening his book with this quote by Voltaire: “Doctors prescribe medicine of which they know little, to cure disease of which they know less, in human beings of which they know nothing.” He later quotes George Orwell, who called hospitals the “antechamber to the tomb.”

“We need a jailbreak,” Topol writes. “Medicine is about to go through its biggest shakeup in history.”

“Eric Topol has written an extraordinarily important book at just the right moment,” writes Dr. Reed Tuckson, who is ninth on this year’s list (his highest placement ever) and was formerly senior vice president of professional standards for the AMA. “Dr. Topol opens the door for an essential discussion of old challenges viewed through an innovative lens.”

Last year Topol, who is chief academic officer for Scripps Health, placed No. 69 on Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare list. He also is director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, whose stated mission is to replace “one-size-fits-all medicine with individualized healthcare” while accelerating innovation and the integration of research findings into medical practice.