A new president is inaugurated, and he makes healthcare reform his primary domestic priority. Congress thrashes the issue like a dog killing a squirrel. Major industry groups are cooperative one day and hostile the next. Reform becomes a rallying point for ideological, partisan interests.
The general public seems perplexed and confused by the whole business.
Congress passes a massive economic stimulus plan with major implications for the healthcare industry.
If that wasn't exciting enough, we suffered from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and from the H1N1 flu pandemic. And there were plagues of patient data breaches and overexposure to radiation.
Despite all the anxiety, healthcare shone as the economic star of the Great Recession. While the country shed nearly 8 million jobs during the plunge, employment at hospitals and other healthcare facilities actually grew. Hospital construction remained strong, and access to credit began to thaw as the year progressed.
How can we top this next year?
Below, we recount some of the highlights of an extraordinary 12 months.