MODERN HEALTHCARE is declaring victory in the long and laborious effort to impose part of our name on the English language.
In a word, it's healthcare.
Traditionalists, including many of those charged with setting rules for the way words are spelled in dictionaries and used in style manuals, cling to the unhealthy notion that healthcare is two words, that is, "health care" if used as a noun and "health-care" if used as a compound adjective, such as in "health-care provider."
But that's strictly old school. The hip, stylish and (I can't help myself) modern way is one word.
Actually, MODERN HEALTHCARE traces its roots to 1913, with the debut of Modern Hospital magazine. In 1974, the magazine's owner, McGraw-Hill, decided to split the magazine into Modern Healthcare/Short-term care and Modern Healthcare/Long-term care.
Two years later, McGraw-Hill sold the publication to Crain Communications. The first decision by new Publisher Charles S. Lauer was to combine the two editions into MODERN HEALTHCARE.
"We liked healthcare as one word because it looked good with the logo design," Lauer said. "Think of it as bringing the various components of healthcare together into the modern world of healthcare."
The one-word variation was rare at the time, but over the years there have been increasingly more references to healthcare. Last month, for instance, Elmhurst (Ill.) Memorial Health System was renamed Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare. And let's not forget the nation's biggest hospital chain, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., and leading health insurer Aetna U.S. Healthcare.
It's more common to see words run together that once were considered two. Supermarket, whistleblower and myriad catchy corporate names such as AutoZone and ZapMail come to mind.
The first signs of surrender came in Florida last November, when the Tampa Tribune's crackerjack healthcare reporter Mike Stobbe wrote a column titled "Giving up the health-care battle."
Stobbe asked Aetna U.S. Healthcare why the company selected the one-word version. Spokesman Walt Cherniak cited MODERN HEALTHCARE, implying, Stobbe said, that "if some leading healthcare journalists are doing the run-together, why shouldn't Aetna?"
And why, then, shouldn't you?