Memo from the Editor: We're 80. So what?

October 10, 2003

Eighty years ago this month, the first issue of Medical Economics was published.

 

Memo From The Editor

We're 80. So what?

Marianne Dekker Mattera

Eighty years ago this month, the first issue of Medical Economics was published. It was digest size, 48 pages, with eight articles and 17 ads. And it caused quite a stir.

The editor of JAMA called the new publication "insidious," claiming that a magazine that dealt with the economics of medicine couldn't help but put "cash above conscience." Another doctor who got the first issue didn't question our ethics, but didn't hold out much hope for our longevity: "Sure, it's a good idea—but it's too limited. In two issues, the subject will be exhausted."

Well, more than 1,500 issues after that predicted demise, we're still going strong. Like any 80-year-old, we've changed over the years, but we've remained true to the goals that the founding editors set for the magazine: helping the physician "increase his compensation in a strictly ethical manner, collect the greater part of his earnings, and invest his surplus in such a way as to give him the best returns commensurate with safety."

Why should you care that we've been publishing for 80 years? Because our very longevity speaks to the value of the publication for the readers we serve. We get letters and e-mails every day from doctors telling us how we've helped with a particular problem they'd encountered or provided a different perspective for their consideration. Just last week, I got an e-mail that said simply, "I love your magazine."

Although longevity brings a measure of distinction, we also recognize that there are traps. We all revere 80-year-old grandpa for his experiences and his history; few of us would ask him to go plow the back 40. Some of us wouldn't expect him to remember what he had for breakfast, never mind how best to cope with a problem that he'd undoubtedly faced many times in his prime.

So we approach each issue with a keen eye toward relevance for today. We go to conferences—of physicians, of management consultants, of financial advisers. We bounce ideas off members of our Editorial Board and Kitchen Cabinet. We read journals, newspapers, letters, and e-mails. We challenge and hone each article proposal to assure that there's a message there and that the message is useful. Then we talk to the experts in whatever topic we're covering, and bring you their best advice.

Like many of your patients, this 80-year-old is vibrant and alive and committed to continuing that way for as long as possible. It means a lot to me to be working for one of the most respected publications in the medical field. It's important for you to know that we work every day to continue earning that respect.

Marianne Mattera. Memo from the Editor: We're 80. So what? Medical Economics Oct. 10, 2003;80:9.