Friday, January 07, 2011


I attach an email that I have sent to the BIDMC staff this morning. It is self-explanatory.

My loyal blog readers can expect continued posts over the coming months. The health care field needs a bit of stimulus every now and then, and this medium has turned out to be more powerful in that regard that I ever could have imagined.

Thank you for your readership and your perceptive comments. Knowing that thousands of people around the world have been watching and participating in this adventure has been more important than you can imagine. Please stay tuned for the coming chapters!


I have written to you on special occasions, and this is one. So many of you have become close personal friends and colleagues that I wanted you to hear the news first and directly from me.

I have been coming to a conclusion over the last several months, perhaps prompted by reaching my 60th birthday, which is often a time for checking in and deciding on the next stage of life. I recently traveled to Africa and while biking through the Atlas Mountains had plenty of time in a less cluttered environment to think this through.

I felt some ambivalence as I was writing yesterday's blog post entitled "Resolve." I realized that my own place here at BIDMC in the role I outlined in that blog post had run its course. While I remain strongly committed to the fight for patient quality and safety, worker-led process improvement, and transparency, our organization needs a fresh perspective to reach new heights in these arenas. Likewise, for me personally, while it has been nine great years working with outstanding people, that is longer than I have spent in any one job, and I need some new challenges.

So, last night, I informed the Chair of our Board that I will be stepping down as CEO. We will work out an appropriate transition period, and things will continue to run smoothly here. I leave confident that the Board will find many able candidates to succeed me.

As I look back over the nine years, I see several stages. First, our management team took a hospital that was close to bankruptcy and turned it around. Then, we implemented a strategic plan to restore market share and rebuild the hospital's clinical, education, and research programs. Meanwhile, we engaged in a cultural shift that put the hospital at the forefront of the patient safety and quality movement in the world. That the degree of clinical transparency at BIDMC is second to none is a major factor in our success in reducing preventable harm. And we have turned the corner in terms of engaging our patients in our decision-making processes.

During that time, we built strong internal coalitions, but we also established important relationships with like-minded health care leaders and organizations like Atrius Health, Anna Jaques Hospital, Milton Hospital, Lawrence General Hospital, Beverly Hospital, Commonwealth Hem/Onc, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, several state hospital associations across the country, patient advocates, the Joint Commission, and the Health Foundation in the United Kingdom. I am particularly proud, too, of our close cooperation with BID~Needham Hospital and our affiliated community health centers, who have been extraordinary partners.

But, while the management team deserves much credit for this, it is the dedication and commitment of our front-line staff that has made the difference. You truly believe in taking care of each patient as though that person were a member of your own family. You engage in stunning and creative research that is changing our ability to diagnose and treat disease. You teach medical students, residents, nurses, and others to be compassionate and expert members of the medical team. You devote time, energy, and care to neighborhoods and members of our immediate community. I can never thank you enough for that.

Over the last nine years, I have certainly made mistakes of degree, emphasis, and judgment. I have apologized to you directly for some of those, but I do so again, in the hope that such errors will not overshadow the many accomplishments and contributions of our hospital to the community and the health care industry. On the personal level, if I have slighted any one of you in any way or given you any cause for concern about my warm regard and respect for you, I doubly apologize.

I hope to talk with many of you personally over the coming weeks. We'll arrange some group sessions, but you should also feel free just to drop by the office or stop me in the hallway -- as always!



Paul F. Levy
President and CEO


rlbates said...

Best to you in your next venture.

Anonymous said...

Paul, as an employee I am saddened to hear this news. Thank you for all you have done for the hospital and our patients.

David Harlow said...

Paul --

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Your work at BIDMC (including this nice little blog of yours) has certainly shaken things up -- in a good way -- both at BIDMC and in the local and national arenas.

I hope to see you on the road.

-- David

Anonymous said...

good riddance. This hospital needs someone who brings it to a first rate patient care but also first rate research and education center. What you have ignored. Also, a place that discrimination is a thing of past.

Bob Coughlin said...

You turned the organization around. You are truly an amazing person. Thank you for your contributions and leadership in the healthcare industry. We owe you a great deal of gratitute and thanks.

@rdjfraser said...

Thank you for your inspiration and leadership. I look forward to following you in the future and the work you will continue to contribute to healthcare.

All the best,
Rob Fraser RN

tcoughlin said...

Best of luck in whatever comes next for you Paul. I've been an avid follower of this blog for years, and held it up as a standard of what hospital and healthcare leaders should be doing in quality improvement and overall transparency. Much has changed in healthcare since you began this blog, some for the better, some not so much - but I have no doubt that your personal efforts have moved the needle toward the better, and will continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

To: 10:39 Anonymous post:

What discrimination are you speaking about? Have you looked at the diversity at BIMDC???

Constructive critism is the only way for anyone to grow and learn. I certainly hope someone like yourself doesn't take over.
First rate patient care is and should be the # 1 priority.

Paul: I wish you the best!!! No matter what you decide to do, you will make an impact. As humans we all make mistakes in some way shape or form; and those who don't forgive or pass jugement make the biggest mistake of all.

Best to you!!!

Medical Quack said...

Best wishes for your next endeavor and yes there are huge challenges for healthcare, you are right.

Thank goodness social networks are here so we can all stay connected and remain in touch, so this way we don't lose you in the masses! Again, be sure to keep us all informed and best of luck!

Linda said...

I have been a avid reader for a few years now and, on occasion, contacted you to follow up on some of the topics you included in your posts. I like to thank you for your prompt responses - I have used the information for my work as a hospital administrator.

I do hope you will continue to blog. Best wishes as you move on.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I was first attracted to your blog because you seemed to be a hospital CEO who, for once, would tell it like it is rather than engage in the same old blather I call "administrator-speak." You did not disappoint, and I hope that your voice will become even stronger now that you are not constrained by an official position. I am heartened by your statement of continued commitment to "patient safety, worker-led process improvement, and transparency."
On a personal level, as I am in your age group I can certainly identify with the need to find new challenges and meaning for the next chapter of your life. I wish you the very best and look forward to hearing about your next endeavors.

nonlocal MD

Anonymous said...

What a thoughful posting! Wishing you all the best in your new adventures!

While it can be hard for institutions at these times of transitions, and there might be a desire to "circle the wagons" and keep things "as is", it is important to keep in mind that this can also be a great opportunity to reinvigorate the institution's senior leadership as a whole in order to bring in new energy, new ideas, and a fresh perspective. Here's to hoping for a dynamic and productive period of change for the medical center!

Again, best wishes for the future!

Anonymous said...


I have very much enjoyed reading your blog. In my career I have had the good fortune to work closely with a hospital CEO of a $1b health system. You and he remind me of one and another. Both are thoughtful, measured, and very forward thinking. I learned a lot from him and from you.

It is unfortunate to see such a strong proponent of process improvement leave the field at time when total hospital efficiency is so important. I wish you luck in your next endeavor.

Unknown said...

Paul, I'm sorry to hear this. I felt good being a patient while you were in charge.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about this. Thank you and best of luck with everything.

wrinkledman said...

Does the New York Times know? I hope they scoop you up and the reach of your ideas is extended.

Marilyn said...

Best Wishes, Paul!

Rickamd said...

Your blog has been a clear manual for this community physician. I have learned more here than in the Globe or from our own hospital system. Especially useful are the click on references which you have included. All the best, and, Thanks.

76 Degrees in San Diego said...

I didn't hear the "lady sing"! And, "it's not over...!" - Yogi
Since I turn 60 this year, I am inspired to take up biking again!
We all wish you well!

Mark Graban said...

Best wishes to you in your future endeavors, Paul. I hope you will continue to be a strong, thoughtful advocate for staff-driven continuous improvement (such as lean), quality improvement, and transparency.

Looking forward to continue to follow your blog and tweets.

Barry Carol said...

Paul – I wish you the very best in whatever you choose to do next. I thought your blog was among the best healthcare blogs out there and I’m going to miss it.

Carole Brown said...

Paul, I first 'met' you when I was on the 'Engage with Grace' project and you called for the first Blog Rally.

I have recently become a patient and am so impressed with the friendly approach and caring of the team at BIDMC. It's so different to other hospitals that I've encountered in the USA where I've felt like a number in a bean counter system. BIDMC reminds me of the best of the NHS in my 'home' country, with the added benefit of more modern technology.

Your transparency in your blogging is remarkable for a CEO and your posts are amazing. Thank you for your inspiring leadership and wishing you the best of luck in whatever you choose next.

Anonymous said...


I have enjoyed reading your blog daily - thank you for sharing.

You have brought to light a vital "weapon" needed for healthcare reform; transparency. Leave your CEO position but please continue to be the patient safety champion we need today.

Anonymous said...

As many others have said, I wish you the very best. I love being part of the BIDMC community. And the spirit that encompasses it.

Matthew Holt said...

Congratulations Paul. 9 years doing anything these days is amazing. And you've done great work here. Looking forward to seeing what you do next.

Sicilian said...

I don't know how I found you, but I have been following. It was a real shock to see a CEO of a hospital being so transparent.
Best wishes, and thank you for the honesty!

Sylvia said...

Here's to you, Paul, not only for your amazing accomplishments at BIDMC, but for your commitment and services to our communities! You are a true inspiration for our future generations. I admire your transparency and candor and cannot wait to see your next big move!

All the best!

Anonymous said...

Paul, As an employee of BIDMC it was so great to have met you in person and to have had the opportunity to work at the same goal together: "to make BIDMC stronger and healthier". BIDMC, I also felt went from just another large organization that was on a collision course to a smaller, friendlier place where people smiled more.

Good luck to you where ever you land, Paul.

A grateful employee.

Elaine Schattner said...

This blog set new ground for how hospitals might be run, which should help future patients everywhere. With best wishes, and respect,