If he's a celebrity, he can bring cache. If he's truly involved, he can aid in development. If he's highly ethical, he adds lustre.
What if he's a marketer? Medsphere has hired a marketer as its CMO. Medsphere is the open source hospital software leader which recently was selected to automate Century City Doctors Hospital in Los Angeles.
Dr. Edmund Billings of San Francisco (above) bills himself, not as a physician, but as a brand development guy. He's best known for a trademarked technology validation program called Voice of the Physician.
Billings has also run a consulting outfit called Phyxe, "that helps physicians define, validate and adopt new products" by logging the workflow of a practice on a minute-by-minute basis.
Billings has enormous experience in electronic medical records (EMRs), having founded a company called Oceania which pioneered EMRs back in 1988, and having launched Open Health Data to leverage the sharing of medical data early this year. He's an entrepreneur.
Billings has also been CMO for such start-ups as Adam.Com and Precurrence, both involved in the syndication of health content.
This kind of background is important, and will help Medsphere in its effort to market its open source hospital software.
But it's not really a medical background. Billings, who got his medical training from the University of Vermont, is neither a well-known physician nor an ethicist.
Time will tell whether his choice is the right one.