Guerra On Healthcare: Siemens Summer CEO Coup

John Glaser taking the helm of Siemens Health Services Business Unit is a game changer proves there's more than just one kind of M&A.
When AllScripts announced its acquisition of Eclipsys on June 9, I thought that would be the biggest healthcare IT M&A news for at least a year. But we're not even through the month and it's been bested by the news Siemens released on Friday.

Of course, I'm talking about that company's acquisition of Partners HealthCare VP and CIO John Glaser to head its Health Services Business Unit as CEO. And don't forget, Glaser's not just one of the top CIOs in the country, but also just finished paling around with the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT David Blumenthal, M.D., as his senior advisor in shaping early HITECH policy. Talk about connected!

But the real reason I think Siemens acquisition of Glaser is such a game changer is because of who John Glaser is and what he brings to the table. I've known John professionally for about five years, and have always considered him circumspect, generous and kind. When I say kind, I mean the type of person who never lets on that he thinks your question is stupid (even when you're new to the industry and it is), or ignores you because he can.

I may sound naive, but that is the person people follow, because he makes everyone feel valuable and appreciated. Have you ever worked in a company where you just knew the CEO could care less if you got hit by a bus on your way into work? It's not very motivating.

And that is exactly what the CEO role is all about - motivation. It's not about crunching numbers, that's the CFO, it's not about keeping the trains running on time, that the COO, and it's not about making sure technology is leveraged to gain a competitive advantage, we know who that is. The CEO role is about communicating that the person at the helm believes in the course he has set, is going to stick by it, and gives a damn about the people on the team.

With John naturally having the kind of personality that people follow, and the fact that he personally has the respect of just about every (now potential customer) CIO in the country, oh, and don't forget he know the technology inside and out (and policy), I think it's a very good time for the competition to be concerned.

From a PR perspective, Siemens could have done a better job with the departure of Janet Dillione, and they didn't do themselves any favors by keeping interim chief Tom Miller in an undisclosed location, but this just about makes up for all that. I've already been in touch with a CIO customer of Siemens who felt great about the news. I definitely seconded his emotion.

But again, it's not the doors Glaser can open, his technical knowledge or policy connections that make me so bullish on his Siemens sojourn, but John's ability to inspire. I've only had intermittent contact with John over the years, and yet he's always inspired me. I have no doubt he'll marshal the troops at Siemens into a formidable HIT fighting force.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at [email protected]