5 of the Greatest Trade Journalists in Healthcare IT

Sep 28, 2016

One of my favorite pages on Funny Or Die, the online comedy collective launched by Will Ferrell and friends, is their hilarious send-up of listicles. You know listicles  those ubiquitous numbered lists that grab eyeballs by hitchhiking on a sub-culture’s favorite passion. They’re definitely a favorite in Healthcare IT.

While most digital editors can only dream of having the freedom to post 10 Photos That Will Make You Question Why You Are Wasting Your Time With This Slide Show, or 10 Pictures of Adorable Cats That  I’m Pretty Sure There’s Something I Needed to Do Today, you can bet at least one listicle has made their Top 10 Best Story Ideas list.

Personally, I’m no fan of the genre. Listicles may make for easy reading (or more likely, skimming) but they also minimize the qualities that make good journalism such a joy to read. Insight. Perspective. Intelligence.

So no, I’m not a fan of listicles but there’s no denying their amazing power to hook readers. Which is a long-lede way of explaining why I’m writing a listicle on journalists for this blog. How else was I going to get you to read about some of my favorite journalists in healthcare IT?

Journalists: The cats of the PR world?

No, we don’t spend our evenings surfing for videos of journalists toying with a rubber mouse or playing a piano (that’s the other species of cat).  But all of us who work in PR are fans of journalists, sometimes adoring fans. And not just because we rely on them to tell our clients’ stories.

We’re fans of journalists because we love good journalism.  In fact, many of us used to be journalists ourselves and some of us would return to the business in a heartbeat if we could.

So just for the fun of it  and because journalists don’t get enough recognition for the work they do what follows is perhaps the first-ever list of the most interesting trade journalists in healthcare IT.  It doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive list. I left out the Steve Lohrs and Vanessa Furhmans of the world because I wanted to focus on the trades, not the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.  And I ignored the Matthew Holts and Anthony Guerras of the industry because I want to save “The Best Bloggers in Healthcare IT” for another post.

Time was also a handicap. I had to change the title from “The 25 Most Interesting Journalists in Healthcare IT” after I realized completing the list would require giving up my day job. So there are only five for now.  Don’t be surprised if you check back next month to find 10 or 15.

In the meantime, these five are simply those who first came to mind, based on 12 years of working in healthcare IT as both a journalist and PR pro.

Elizabeth Gardner, Health Data Management, others  Elizabeth is a true veteran of healthcare and health IT reporting, having launched her career in 1987 as a technology reporter for Modern Healthcare.  She moved on from healthcare to help document the development of the Internet as a writer for Internet World. A graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, Elizabeth spent the early 2000s covering micro- and nanotechnology as a contributing writer for the magazine and website Small Times (which she calls “one of the greatest titles ever dreamed up for a business publication”). But healthcare is the biggest and perhaps most interesting market in America. Elizabeth was drawn back into the field and today contributes regular stories to Health Data Management. Her articles are inevitably well-researched, thought-provoking and most of all fun to read. Several have been finalists for the Jesse H. Neal Awards from the American Business Media Association.

Mark Hagland, Healthcare Informatics  Anyone who has ever met Mark is likely to remember first his warm, welcoming smile. Profoundly intelligent, Mark is also one of the friendliest and most genuine people you’ll ever meet. A Northwestern University/Medill School of Journalism graduate, Mark is a longtime Chicago resident who has been writing and speaking about healthcare for nearly 25 years. He has served as Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare Informatics since 2010 after many years as a contributing editor. His writing has earned him numerous national awards, including from the National Institute for Health Care Management, the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association. Mark is also the author of two books — “Paradox and Imperatives in Health Care” with healthcare futurist Jeffrey Bauer, Ph.D., and “Transformative Quality: The Emerging Revolution in Health Care Performance.”

Bernie Monegain, Healthcare IT News Bernie is the former editor of Healthcare IT News, now the magazine’s Editor At Large after moving to North Carolina, far from the publication’s headquarters in Maine (yes, Maine, that center of all things tech). Everyone in HIT PR knows Bernie. She’s among the nicest human beings you could imagine meeting, a quality that enlivens her relationships even with PR folks, despite the fact that we all want something from her (a story!). Bernie joined Healthcare IT News when it was launched in 2004, after a four-year stint at another business publication that focused on communications technology. Before that she was an award-winning reporter and later a city editor of The Times Record, a daily newspaper in Brunswick, Maine, where she reported on healthcare, business, technology and other topics.

Neil Versel, MedCity News  Neil started covering health IT as a freelancer in 2000, before the “industry” was an industry. Through skill and persistence informed by a deep curiosity about healthcare technology, Neil gradually developed a reputation for intelligent in-depth coverage of the technologies that are transforming healthcare.  A contributor to US News & World Reports, as well as Forbes.com, he was previously an editor for Fierce Healthcare. Neil has grown up in healthcare IT and is a genuinely nice guy. In 2014 he launched an 850-mile charity bike ride  in honor of his dad, Mark Versel, who died of the rare disorder multiple system atrophy (MSA). Neil’s blogs from the trip were inspiring to anyone who has ever wanted to do something meaningful in memory of a loved one.

Eric Wicklund, mHealthIntelligence  Like several others on this list, Eric paid his dues in daily journalism, working his way up from beat reporter to columnist to managing editor of the Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Courier in Maine. His proximity to the Portland, Maine headquarters of Healthcare IT News probably explains how in 2006 he ended up writing and editing for the publication (though I’ve never asked Eric how that happened). Eric rose to be editor of Healthcare Finance News (another HIMSS Media property) before moving into coverage of telemedicine as editor of mHealthNews (ditto) and finally departing the Mother Ship in 2015 for rival XtelligentMedia, where he’s editor of one of what is fast becoming one of the most interesting sites in mobile healthcare, mHealthIntelligence.com. Beyond journalism, Eric is a Dad, an avid soccer player, skier and bicyclist who for years was a team leader and board member of the American Diabetes Foundation’s Tour de Cure.

Do you have favorite industry journalists of your own? Please help add to this list by leaving a comment.

Todd Stein

Todd Stein is an award-winning communicator with more than 20 years' experience driving business growth, brand awareness and investor confidence for technology startups, mid-sized companies and Fortune 500 corporations. Prior to joining Amendola, Todd led public relations for Allscripts, helping catapult the healthcare IT company from a niche electronic health record provider to a global healthcare powerhouse in the span of six years. Todd also worked for 15 years as a freelance journalist for numerous West Coast and national publications. He has been honored by the League of American Communications Professionals; by the California Society of Professional Journalists; and by PRSourceCode's 'Top Tech Communicators' survey.