“Most futuristic health care scenarios portray a system dominated by outpatient care, in which the hospital itself will wane in importance — payers and physicians will be very influential, but so will hospital executives. They will design and execute these future systems.” — Mary Grayson
In these two sentences, Mary Grayson neatly sums up the state of American health care today. The startling thing is, she wrote them nearly a quarter of a century ago in one of her first columns as editor of this magazine, then known simply as Hospitals. The fact that the futuristic scenario Mary prophesied back in December 1990 is only now beginning to firmly take hold illustrates her talent for casting a keen eye over one of the most complex enterprises in this country (that would be health care), assessing the many tangled trends at play at a given time, and sorting the whole thing out so that it makes sense for the rest of us.
As the excerpts on these pages attest, taken from more than two decades of her Editor’s Note column, she has done so with wisdom and insight. She can be appropriately skeptical whenever yet another one of health care’s dreaded “big ideas” rears its ugly head, and she has a wonderful knack for turning a phrase that can make you laugh out loud.
Health care and publishing are the two sides of Mary’s career and, as we all know, both have been undergoing dramatic transformation. Over the last several years, she’s presided over Health Forum’s foray into the exciting, ever-evolving realm of electronic media. In addition to our monthly print magazines — Hospitals & Health Networks, Trustee and Health Facilities Management — she now oversees all manner of e-news and online analysis, as well as our ever-growing presence on social media.
I came to work for Mary 18 years ago knowing close to nothing about the health care field. Over the years, Mary’s depth of knowledge and sage advice have been immeasurably important in my role as managing editor of H&HN. She’s provided historical perspective and sophisticated insights that enable me and my colleagues to offer you reports that are nuanced, practical and useful to the critical work you do.
In early November, Mary will retire as Health Forum’s editorial director of executive publications. She’s spent 33 years in the American Hospital Association’s publishing arm. I’m having a hard time imagining this place, these publications and the health care field without her active, daily involvement.
Of course, all of us at Health Forum and the AHA wish her the absolute best. But we sure will miss her around here.
[ On Leadership ]
“Who will be the integrator of care? It won’t be the person whose overriding goal is simply to stay on top. It will be the professional whose vision overrides personal gain and takes hold of the system and makes it work better for the community.” — June 1993
“The successful CEO in the near future may need a much different skill set, a much different personality and a whole truckload of interpersonal and communication skills.”— April 2006
“Leadership is not just about picking that or this strategy or goal; it’s equally about standing up publicly and saying this is what we are going to do and why we are doing it. It takes a stand-up guy or gal and a lot of good old-fashioned backbone.”— September 2010
“Boards may not be ready to accept visionary leadership as a criterion for success — even though many health care CEOs already know that vision is the quality that may be needed the most in times of radical change.”— December 1990
“Moderate-impact boards look at trends and respond to changing conditions. More involved boards go beyond and analyze what drives care, debate alternative strategies and evaluate the allocation of resources.”— August 2014
[ On PHYSICIANS ]
“If physicians who pass you in the hall these days seem to be in a bad mood, the reason may have nothing to do with your health care institution … the degree of uncertainty as to how health care reform will affect the physician practice is increasing daily.”— May 1993
“Physicians may be a dissatisfied bunch coming to you with offers to buy their private practices, but they are still a very big, important bunch.”— March 2014
[ ON HEALTH CARE TRENDS ]
“In a redesigned delivery system, patients will be at the center of the entire system. How that will be accomplished and what that means for both providers and consumers still has to be worked out at the individual community level.”— February 1993
“As trends go, managed care has been really annoying.”— April 1996
“But lo! 2001 is at hand, and vendors and health care execs are ready to embark on a new odyssey of shared risk. Maybe this time everyone will get there alive — and well.”— February 1998
“For all the rancor and upset that surrounds reform, all those statistics now have names and faces; 32 million people now have a chance at a better life. And those of us in health care now have a new beginning.”— April 2010
“Price transparency in health care is not a simple matter … But transparency is also a movement that can’t be denied. It is going to happen.”— June 2014
[ On PUBLISHING ]
“When I began in magazine publishing (and I’m not that old), an electronic typewriter was considered a major convenience. Mountains of paper were hand-carried back and forth from editorial to printers. Layouts of articles were literally pinned to boards. And God help anyone who needed to make a last-minute change.”— June 1993
“… the future of publishing seems to be headed in an electronic direction. But I love printed magazines. One of these days I’m going to have to learn to just love information distribution.”— May 1996
[ On LIFE ]
“Somewhere around the age of 48, dads are gripped by the sudden overwhelming urge to pack the entire family into the car — whether anyone wants to go or not — and drive a gazillion miles to somewhere. These kidnappings are known as family driving vacations.”— April 1996
“Most people aren’t run off the road by catastrophic events. They’re simply asleep at the wheel when the jalopy hits the ditch.”— February 1998
“The Great Depression was not just a time that this [older] generation managed to live through; it permeated their entire beings like indelible ink, never to be washed away. As an adult, I came to understand this conceptually, but it was only on Sept. 11  that I understood how it felt.”— November 2001
“We’ve worked very hard at knowing when to talk and when to shut up and listen. (Which, by the way, is one of life’s great underrated skills. Just ask your spouse.)”— February 2013
“Mary has the rare ability to envision the big picture while keeping track of the most minute details — a quality that has made her a stellar editor. Through her leadership of H&HN and Trustee magazine, her contributions to our knowledge of health care are massive.” — Rich Umbdenstock. president and CEO, American Hospital Association
“Mary is a health care treasure, valued by many for her special talent to make the most complex things understandable and their essence shine through via her keen observations and engaging style. I will personally miss her column and even more so her friendship and collegiality.” — Neil Jesuele, executive vice president, leadership and business development, AHA; president, Health Forum