Monday, October 5, 2009

John Connolly of Castle Connolly's Top Doctors in American

I am easily satisfied with the very best.

Winston Churchill

Last week I interviewed Dr. John Connolly, president of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a health information and research company he founded in New York City in 1991.The object of the company is to identify America’s top doctors and hospital’s top medical leaders.

John and I have an incestuous relationship. For the last 12 years, I have served as one of 20 Medical Advisory Board Members of Castle and Connolly. As I recall, our relationship began when he asked me to write the foreword for his 1997 book, The ABCs of HMOs: How to Get the Best From Managed Care

My foreword began, ”Nothing brings you closer to reality than finding a physician,”and it ended, “HMOs and other forms of managed care are now the dominant forcein health care and have brought about reform as radical as any proposed by government. It is, as the author tells us, the new reality and one to which doctors, hospitals, and especially consumers – must adapt.”

John never asked me to write another foreword. Why not? Because, he joked, he wanted more people to read the book than the foreword.

In any event, John, a charming American Irishman, regards himself and his company as a pioneer of the consumer-directed health movement. He prides himself for anticipating early on what American consumers want - easy and informed access to the very best doctors at the very best hospitals.

This access is best when consumers are desperate to find just the right doctors for their situation, which may indeed be so desperate or so obscure nobody else can figure it out.

John, former president of the New York Medical College, founded the company in partnership with John K. Castle, a merchant banker who even now serves on the boards of 3 New York City hospitals. Through a survey and research process involving tens of thousands of top doctors and hospital medical leadership groups, Castle Connolly Ltd., through guidebooks and online directories , provides consumers with detailed information about education, training and expertise, and backgrounds of thousands of specialists in 75 specialties in every section of the country.

The process is based on recommendations of other physicians, thousands of letters and phone calls, checks on malpractice and other backgrounds, and a massive database of 25,000 physicians.

As a result of these efforts, Castle Connolly has produced 12 editions of Top Doctors in the New York City Metropolitan Area, 8 editions of Top Doctors in America, and 4 editions of Top Doctors in Cancer. In addition, the company contributes to top doctor information to multiple regional magazines. Regional magazine editors tell John top doctor editions are invariably rank number one or number two among their editions.

The emphasis on New York City occurs because of John’s familiarity with the New York City medical academic scene and because New York City is home to 9 major academic centers – compared to 4 for Massachusetts and 6 for California.

America’s 127 academic centers are the bulwark of American medicine. They educate most of America’s top specialists and are home to most of our Nobel Prize winners. According to John, these centers are “very concerned” about health reform developments. Most current proposals envision a $500 billion cut in Medicare over the next decade and tend to target high tech procedures and specialists – the strength and major source of revenue for most academic medical centers and a major reason the centers can provide care to the uninsured.

Castle Connolly is closely linked to academic centers, which provide some of their advertising revenue (the rest of their revenue comes from licensing content, online memberships, and selling books). In recent years, has given annual banquet to medical center academicians for Lifetime Achievement, Clinical Excellence, and National Health Leadership.

John says surveys indicate users of Castle Connolly services have “very high satisfaction” rates. Both doctors and patients share this satisfaction – doctors because they can deploy their hard-earned and deep expertise to patients who may have travelled far to see them and patients because they have found the best physician to diagnose and treat their problem.

No comments: