After today, MP Stat will be taking a couple of days off for the holidays, returning Dec. 29.
I'll be back in the office Jan. 5.
It's been an exciting year, 2003, full of challenges and changes.
When Howard Dean, M.D., accepted our invitation to visit us at Modern Physician in Chicago in early February, he had just stepped down as the physician executive running state government in Vermont. Gov. Dean, M.D., was then a curiosity in the crowded Democratic presidential field.
At the time, Dean was unaware he'd inadvertently let his Vermont medical license expire. (Our reporter Neil Versel, who had checked, let him--and you--know.)
More importantly, Dean said he didn't know what the Leapfrog Group was and, when questioned about a possible Hill-Burton type program to help finance more rapid deployment of healthcare information technology, added that the U.S. healthcare system had enough money, thus it shouldn't look to the government to help with any tech upgrades.
(He's since read up on Leapfrog and addressed the Markle Foundation, a booster group for healthcare IT.)
But we were impressed during that interview by Dean's candor--and so, evidently, have been many others.
By August, our Washington, D.C., reporter, Liz Beckley, was hustling to catch up with the peripatetic doctor, who had become the Democratic frontrunner.
Beckley spent four days flying to 10 cities with the Dean campaign, including a memorable 20 minutes when a patch of sudden turbulence aloft forced the would-be über-physician executive to strap into a seat beside her. Beckley's "Team Dean" October cover package focused not only on the former internist and his healthcare program, but also took readers behind the scenes to meet the physician leaders helping Dean develop his healthcare policies.
There has been a lot of other news and excitement this year.
In January, we launched MP Stat, our weekday e-newsletter, followed in May by MP Point of Care, our self-directed, up-to-the-minute e-news alert. You've apparently enjoyed our breaking news coverage for physician-executives. Starting from zero at the beginning of the year, by year's end we've attracted nearly 6,000 MP Stat subscribers.
In addition to Dean's licensure problem, we've used MP Stat to break a number of national stories.
In MP Stat in February, working a tip from the HIMSS meeting, we broke the story--and explained why it was so important--that an offshoot of the College of American Pathologists had landed a contract with the National Library of Medicine. The deal delighted medical informaticists who said it should elevate CAP's excellent but obscure Snomed Clinical Terminology to gold-standard status for clinical IT development.
We've followed with a host of MP Stat fast-breakers ranging from reporting on a management shakeup at IDX to the addition by the Leapfrog Group of an ambulatory care quality target to angst by the AMA House of Delegates over continued membership declines.
Our research and analysis reporting in 2003 was equally strong.
In March, Leigh Page wrote presciently on our magazine's cover story of the looming battle between upstart physician-owned, for-profit specialty hospitals and their established, acute care hospital rivals. The battle culminated in a victory of sorts for the acute care side with the Dec. 8 signing of the Medicare reform bill that slapped a moratorium on Medicare payments to physician owners for work performed in any new facilities.
In August, we explained why the VA is ahead of its private sector counterparts in clinical IT promulgation. And in September, we told how the physician leaders at Kaiser Permanente maintain a balance of interests between their group, their health plan and their patients.
The sixth annual Tech Survey with PricewaterhouseCoopers in November showed physicians were well over the psychological hump and had accepted the inevitability of using information technology in their clinical work. It also showed physician leaders had boosted budgets significantly in anticipation of buying these costly, but effective, systems.
In December, as the specialty hospital moratorium legislation loomed, we published The List, ranking as many as 80 U.S. surgical hospitals.
We're looking for more good things to come next year at Modern Physician as we join forces with our sister publication, Modern Healthcare.
But, as editor of Modern Physician, I want to look back and thank our outstanding editorial staff for their work here in 2003. They are the people who helped make the year so great, and my job possible: staff writers Neil, Liz and Leigh; Webmaster and copy desk chief Kathy Downing; copy editor and graphic artist Bill Murphy; art director Jason Warholic; and cartoonist Roger Schillerstrom. And a special thanks to my boss and mentor, Publisher Clark Bell, and our administrative assistant, Jeannine West.
Thanks folks. Happy New Year.