One door partially closes, but another opens wide
Wise, dedicated, passionate and competitive— all words that accurately describe Merrill Goozner who in 2012 raised the bar for healthcare journalism when he took over the helm at Modern Healthcare.
Merrill’s editorial vision for this publication and its online presence was to marry news and in-depth analysis that informed the nation’s healthcare executives and provoked discussion among them.
Merrill’s weekly columns have shed new light on healthcare policy, politics and finances. Earlier this month—in the March 13 issue—he wrote about the long game being played in the attempt to pass the American Health Care Act. A week later, Merrill reframed the AHCA as the “Force Older and Poorer Americans to Postpone Health Care Act.” That was one of the first concerns raised about the issue. Since then, nonpartisan voices have warned that the AHCA could disproportionately affect the elderly.
I’ve learned a lot from reading Merrill’s columns over the past four years, and I continue to be inspired by every historical anecdote, every example, every carefully crafted analogy that Merrill taps to illuminate his points and put a face to the trends and troubles facing the industry. Throughout the past few years, Merrill has asked healthcare leaders to consider in their daily work, bravery (“The importance of diversity—and courage,” June 13, 2016), fairness (“Give Seema Verma a chance,” Feb. 20, 2017) and integrity (“Redefining the right to healthcare” Jan. 2, 2017). He asked it of others and demanded it of himself.
Here’s just a sample of Merrill’s provocative but always pragmatic advocacy:
On medical diagnosis: “Each society should identify the five most common diagnosis errors within their specialty. They could develop tools and run education campaigns among their members. Maybe they should call it Diagnosing Wisely.”
On interoperability: “For the final word on this, let’s return to (Jonathan) Bush’s original speech on the subject—not the one he gave at HIMSS. ‘By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs and improve care,’ he said. It remains a dream deferred.”
On the decline of employer-based health insurance: “If Donald Trump’s candidacy has taught us anything, it’s that we’re in a political period when traditional loyalties are breaking down. The same is true for the relationship between healthcare consumers and employer-based coverage. To loosely borrow from a song used in a previous political campaign: Let’s start thinking about tomorrow.”
Merrill walked into the door of Modern Healthcare always thinking about tomorrow. So, his decision to retire from his position as editor effective April 1 came as no surprise to me. I knew the time he would serve as editorial leader of Modern Healthcare would be short but impactful.
In the 16 years I’ve been with Modern Healthcare, there have been other reporters and editors who inspired me and shared their craft with me. But Merrill took healthcare business news to a whole other level with his news instincts, deep knowledge of healthcare and his prose.
Merrill remains committed to pushing the envelope and inspiring public and private discourse. That’s why Merrill will remain with Modern Healthcare in various roles—as writer of his celebrated weekly column, as editorial consultant, and as moderator at conferences and educational programs.
Taking Merrill’s place as editor will be Aurora Aguilar, currently our managing editor. A veteran reporter, editor and writer, Aurora served in several leadership positions at the NPR affiliate in Chicago. She was lead show producer, news director and special projects editor—a role that first gave her a taste of healthcare and brought her to our doorstep. In her more than 20-year career, Aurora has won dozens of journalism awards from national and local organizations such as the Scripps Howard Foundation, Radio Television Digital News Association, Associated Press, James Beard Foundation and National Association of Black Journalists.
Aurora brings journalistic fairness, balance and credibility to Modern Healthcare along with the flexibility, courage and innovative spirit needed to help our readers navigate the challenging and shifting healthcare landscape. I’m confident that Aurora will deliver a passion and expertise that allows Modern Healthcare to extend its rich, long-standing tradition of editorial excellence.
Thank you Merrill, for dedicating four years to elevating the quality and excellence of Modern Healthcare and by proxy, its brand recognition. And welcome, Aurora. Your intelligence, integrity and thoughtfulness will permeate everything you do. We look forward to a bright future for Modern Healthcare and are proud to serve the always-exciting healthcare industry.