Chief medical officer position crucial to bottom line

Even though total remuneration was relatively unchanged from 2008 to 2009, one expert thinks chief medical officers (CMOs) will be seeing more responsibility and will be “crucial in helping insurers meet their bottom lines,” says C. J. Bolster, a vice president and national director of health care practice at Hay Group, a global management consulting company.

He says CMOs are executives involved in setting business strategies for the insurer or health plan. Bolster describes the CMO as a supervisory position, with medical directors reporting to him.

“One of the real issues coming out of reform is going to be how insurers can demonstrate value,” says Bolster, “and a lot of that value is going to be driven by the policies that come out of the chief medical officer’s domain — in terms of safety and the types of programs that keep people healthy.”

That’s good news for CMOs.

“I think the role of a chief medical officer is going to continue to evolve in these types of organizations, and it’s probably going to become a bigger job,” says Bolster.

“It would not surprise me to see the duties of the traditional chief operating officer get smaller and be focused on the transactional part of the insurance business. I also see the CMO position becoming more important because that’s where you’re going to drive membership satisfaction and costs,” he says.

Cheryl Mikuls, a vice president at Hay Group, expects the compensation mix for these executives to shift more toward base salary, with less compensation falling into the short- and long-term incentives for compensation paid in 2010.

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