Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This special edition marks two anniversaries. I hope you might indulge me while I look back on my 20 years as editor of Home Care Technology Report. Even if you have been around as long as I have, there may be some history you have not heard.
Anniversary #1: 20 years of home health, home care and hospice news
HCTR was originally a print publication called Home Care Automation Report. Founded in 1995 by United Communications Group, today known as Decision Health, HCAR was a companion to their primary publication, ...home health line. When UCG discontinued HCAR in December, 1998, one of their occasional authors, nationally-known home care technology expert Tom Williams, acquired it. Tom had come to national prominence in the early 90's as the VP of a Medicare Regional Home Health Intermediary in Milwaukee.
I met Tom in June of 1998 when we were both speaking at a UCG seminar. One month later, when my IT Director position at a Colorado agency fell victim to the IPS disaster, UCG invited me to try my hand as a reporter. By December, Tom had become familiar with my writing. As soon as he took over as publisher, he took a big risk and asked me to be his editor and primary writer. After some strategy meetings in Port Washington, Wisconsin in January, we released our first issue together. It was dated February, 1999.
Under Tom's ownership, HCAR evolved from a mailed, monthly print publication, to a PDF in magazine format delivered by email, to what it is today, a fully electronic weekly newsletter with full-length articles posted on a web site accompanied by headlines with summaries emailed to subscribers. When we went electronic in 2005, Tom also converted HCAR from subscriber-supported to today's free, advertiser-supported format.
For 10 years, I was essentially Tom Williams' apprentice. A renowned story-teller, he tutored me with tales of his first-hand experiences of the history of our industry, his battles against fraudulent providers as the head of an RHHI (today's MACs), and some eye-opening, insider secrets about its tech vendors and trade associations. We began to be frequent speakers together at national and state association conferences; we organized tech vendors into a professional trade association; and, with technical expertise from one Tom Theimer, we expanded into online training services as the Home Care Information Network.
Two events helped me understand who Tom Williams was. One day, as we walked out of the Milwaukee airport after a conference. He encountered an old friend, a single mother he had hired at Blue Cross when no one else would, giving her a chance to move from welfare to work and on to a college degree. After a big hug and brief chat, he introduced me to his former employee, "Tim, this is Congresswoman Gwen Moore, the representative for Wisconsin's 4th congressional district."
The other happened at my first NAHC meeting in October, 1999. Frustrated with the small turnout that final year of IPS, three leading software company owners approached our booth, shook a finger at Tom, and proclaimed, "We've had it. We want a meeting of all the vendors and we want you to call the meeting because if you call it, they will all come." The following month, 12 CEOs showed up in Chicago, vented their grievances, formulated a plan, and the Homecare Information Technology Council was born. HITC published magazines and educational CDs, represented the vendor community with a common voice, and created the "CEO School," a longtime fixture on the morning before the NAHC Annual Meeting. It was HITC that inspired NAHC founding president Val Halamandaris to create the Home Care Technology Association of America.
On January 9, 2009, Tom was taken from us, without any previous diagnosis or symptoms, by an apparent heart attack. He was 59 years old. Exactly ten years after our initial strategy meetings, and ten years ago last month, I again found myself flying to Milwaukee.
For 10 years we've been on our own
Devastated, Tom's widow and I, assisted by the rest of the Stony Hill Management team — Michael Siegel, Tom Theimer, Randy Weisheit, and my son, Jeremy, the HCIN videographer — tried to keep things going but Tom's wife was an elementary school teacher and deeply grieving. When we realized she did not have the desire or the time to run Tom's company, Theimer and Weisheit took over HCIN and I purchased the rights to HCAR. Siegel found a home at Simione Consulting until he retired. Jeremy took his video skills to Relias Learning, stayed a few years, and then took a hard right turn into the outdoors as owner of Outlaw Jeep Adventures in Moab, Utah.
Now we are in June, 2009. As owner, editor, publisher, and principle writer, I set out to keep HCAR going by myself. Thanks to the incredible success of a new Director of Marketing, Kristin from the Girard Marketing Group, I was humbled and gratified to see the sponsors sticking with me, assuring me I could step into Tom's shoes and that HCAR was worth the effort. By July, to make it more my own, I made a slight change to the newsletter's name and updated its look and feel. That summer, Home Care Technology Report debuted with my name on it in thousands of inboxes. Over the years, most people began to refer to it as The Rowan Report. We gave in and are starting to use that name more often.
That brings us to today, the 20th anniversary of my tenure at Home Care Technology Report and the 10th anniversary of the passing of my friend and mentor, and the one responsible for launching this second career of mine. I still relish the responsibility of finding valuable news for you every week and, though I cannot promise you another ten years, I do promise that, when the time comes, I will hand the keyboard over to someone with the expertise and integrity to carry on, perhaps improve on, the tradition Tom and I began 20 years ago today.
I'll close with a hearty thanks to all 13,000 subscribers who read our words every week and to the sponsors that make it all possible. Here are some of my favorite stories from the last 20 years:
Reflections on A Sad Visit to Wisconsin (1/21/2009)
©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org