It was a venerable publication that refused to die. What it needed was someone to admire it, praise it and make it whole again.
Years earlier, it had flourished under the title of Modern Hospital. Hospital executives regarded the magazine with reverence, and Robert M. Cunningham Jr., now a member of the Health Care Hall of Fame, was its esteemed editor. He knew the industry and its leaders intimately and was considered one of the healthcare industry's wise men.
Then, in the early 1970s, there was a name change to MODERN HEALTHCARE. Cunningham departed. That's when things changed and the owners, McGraw-Hill, became disenchanted. It wasn't long before Crain Communications purchased the magazine and the richest 20 years of my life began.
That was July 1976, and looking back I couldn't have imagined what adventures would come my way.
Luck plays a large role in all our lives. When Rance Crain, president and editor-in-chief of Crain Communications, asked me to become publisher of MODERN HEALTHCARE early in l976, I was executive vice president of another publishing company. Actually, I had just been asked to become president of that company and move myself and my family to the East Coast. My wife and I both felt that would not be good timing for our son and daughter, who were both in high school. So when I was offered this job, I took it knowing I would be able to stay in Chicago. I considered it a lucky break.
From the beginning it wasn't hard to determine what was wrong with MODERN HEALTHCARE. Morale was low, advertising was slipping badly and there was no clear editorial direction. It was a time when providers were beginning to be pressured to control costs. There wasn't a quality business news publication in the field to help executives do their jobs. So that's where we started. The mission was to give the key fiscal officers in healthcare institutions the best business news publication we could put together.
Donald E.L. Johnson was brought in as editor, and for the next 10 years he did an absolutely outstanding job of making MODERN HEALTHCARE*a must read for healthcare executives.
When Crain bought MODERN HEALTHCARE, it was a monthly. After five years, issues became thick with advertising, and both readers and advertisers were uncomfortable. Also, activity within the industry was beginning to heat up. Pressure from government, employers and patients to do something about accelerating healthcare costs was driving executives to make their institutions ever more efficient. The mass media also started paying closer attention to what was going on, with healthcare expenditures rising to about 12% of gross national product and no sign of a slowdown in cost increases.
Then came the advent of diagnosis-related groups for reimbursement under Medicare, which restricted the funds providers needed to stay in business.
All this made it imperative for healthcare executives to get timely information about new ideas and solutions in healthcare, so they could make intelligent decisions to meet the demands being placed on them.
In l985 MODERN HEALTHCARE*went biweekly in order to give our readers the information they wanted. Of course, even then some people were telling us there wasn't enough going on in healthcare to warrant an every-other-week frequency, but we didn't see it that way. The pace of change was incredible, and it was going to get even more frenetic. Not long after that, in 1988, we decided to go weekly and have stayed with that frequency ever since.
The past 20 years have taught me and my colleagues an important lesson: A magazine is only as good as its ability to give its readers the information they need. Without committed readers, no magazine can succeed. So it would seem we have been successful in serving our readers well. For that, I have to thank Editor/Associate Publisher Clark W. Bell, Managing Editor Karen Petitte and a superb staff of reporters and editors.
Meanwhile, on the business side, National Advertising Sales Director Sheryl Bull and her capable staff have done an outstanding job of selling ads.
MODERN HEALTHCARE has been blessed with talented, professional staff right from the beginning. Then there's you, the customer, the reader, the person we try to please every day.
Thank you, readers, for allowing us to be guests in your workplace and your homes. You have treated us well.