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25 July 1947 – 15 May 2016

It is with great regret that we report the death of Emily Friedman from complications after a fall at her home.

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Obituary by Rick Hills, editor of H&HN Daily.

Emily was a contributing editor of Hospitals & Health Networks and a regular columnist for H&HN Daily.She had a large and loyal following for her bimonthly commentaries, which routinely elicited responses from well-known thought leaders in the field. Her readers could always count on her for thorough research and cogent analysis of the health care issues of the day.

Emily also contributed articles to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Progress and other periodicals. Her writing career spanned more than three decades and produced more than 800 articles and books.

“No one knew more about the history, the inherent counterforces and the sometimes tattered social fabric of health care than Emily did,” said Mary Grayson, former editorial director at Health Forum. “But equally important, no one had greater respect and affection for the people who work in health care than Emily did. We have lost an important voice and a good friend.”

As a teacher, she served as adjunct assistant professor of bioethics at the Boston University School of Public Health Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights. She also lectured at several major universities and was a Rockefeller Fellow in Ethics at Dartmouth College in 1987-88.

“The field of public health and health care ethics lost a great thinker, writer, champion of the underserved and friend with the passing of Emily Friedman,” said Mary Pittman, president of the Public Health Institute. “Never shying away from engaging policymakers, Emily challenged vague, unsubstantiated claims for why the right thing was not being done to assure healthy options for everyone and presented her own well-researched reasons why it could and should be done. Emily’s knowledge and concerns spanned many topics and was global in its reach.”

Emily received many honors during her lifetime. The American Hospital Association recognized her as an Honorary Life Member, a distinction she also received from the American Medical Association. Her writing awards included a National Award of Excellence from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and a Gold Award from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors.

“Emily Friedman had a knack for making complicated issues simple and speaking the truth, no matter how unpopular it might be,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA. “As an author and lecturer, her role was to eloquently and provocatively urge health care providers to look beyond all the sophisticated machinery, miraculous medicines and treatments — to the core of what a hospital does: taking care of people, one patient at a time. She will be sorely missed.”

Read a profile of Emily Friedman

(pdf) from Health Insurance Marketplace News

Watch a video of Emily Friedman

Ms. Friedman's article, "Warning from a Mass Grave: Hospitals Under Attack," is now available in two versions:

Top 5 Speakers in Healthcare HonoreeIn 2011, 2012, and again in 2014, Emily Friedman received the "Top 5 Speaker" designation in Healthcare

Each year, Speaking.com recognizes five speakers within fifteen popular topic areas. Recognition of excellence in speaking is based on: expertise, professionalism, innovation within the topic area, client testimonials and references, presentation skills, original contribution to the field, and public votes received at the Speaking.com website.

Over 13,000 votes were cast from business leaders, educators, association members and others from around the world. Many voters effused about how much the nominees improved their personal and professional lives; a living testament to the positive impact and important work of all the candidates.

Public Speaking * Books * Periodical Writings * Other Writings * Emily's Blog * Awards and Honors * Comments on her Speaking * Comments on her Writing * Emily's Photographs

Read EMily's articles in Hospitals & Health Networks Online

Emily Friedman is an independent writer, lecturer, photographer, and health policy and ethics analyst based in Chicago. She is contributing editor of Hospitals & Health Networks and contributing writer for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Progress, and other periodicals. Ms. Friedman also writes a regular column for Hospitals & Health Networks Daily. She is most noted for her work in health policy, health care reform initiatives, rationing of health services, health care trends, insurance and coverage issues, the social ethics of health care, ethics issues for providers and leaders, care for the underserved, population health improvement, health care history, population demographics and their implications for health care, the lessons to be learned from international health care systems, and the relationship of society with its health care system.

Ms. Friedman has written more than 800 articles and editorials in the past 34 years. She is the editor of the books Making Choices: Ethics Issues for Health Care Professionals (American Hospital Publishing, 1986), Choices and Conflict: Explorations in Health Care Ethics (American Hospital Publishing, 1992), and An Unfinished Revolution: Women and Health Care in America (United Hospital Fund of New York, 1994). She authored The Aloha Way: Health Care Structure and Finance in Hawaii (Hawaii Medical Service Association, 1993) and The Right Thing: Ten Years of Ethics Columns from the Healthcare Forum Journal (Jossey-Bass, 1996). She also writes on health care for the World Book Encyclopedia Yearbook and the Encyclopedia of Bioethics. Among her current projects are a history of health care in the state of Minnesota; an examination of the non-profit status of some hospitals and insurers; a long-term study on the rebuilding of the Cambodian health care system after its destruction in the 1970s, and an examination of attacks on hospitals, their staffs, and their patients around the world.

A prolific public speaker, she addresses audiences ranging from state legislators to allied health professionals to nursing and medical groups to community representatives to hospital and health system leaders and health care associations. She has also lectured at many universities, including Harvard, Princeton, the University of California - Berkeley, the University of California - San Diego, Ohio State, Yale, and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. In 1987-88, she was Rockefeller Fellow in Ethics at Dartmouth College. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights at the Boston University School of Public Health, which has repeatedly named her one of its highest-rated teachers. she is a consultant on information dissemination to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She has made numerous radio and television appearances, including on "ABC News Nightline" and National Public Radio shows.

She has won many awards and honors, including being named an honorary life member of the American Hospital Association, an honorary life member of the American Medical Association, a Fellow of Academy Health (formerly the Association for Health Services Research), and an honorary lifetime fellow of the American Academy of Medical Administrators. She has also received the Corning Award of the Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development and the first Pioneer Award of the Colorado Hospital Association.

In addition, she has won many writing awards. In 2003, her column, "Making Choices," in Health Forum Journal, won a National Award of Excellence from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (the largest competition in U.S. business publishing) and the Gold Award from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (the highest award that the Association grants).

In 2002, 2004, and again in 2006, the readers of Modern Healthcare named her as one of the 100 most powerful people in the health care field. In April 2005, the editors of Modern Healthcare chose her as one of the "Top 25 Women in Healthcare." In January 2011, 2012, and again in 2014, she was named one of the "Top Five Speakers in Health Care" by Speaking.com.

She is an avid photographer with several record album and CD covers to her credit. Her other hobbies include writing poetry, ethnic cooking, hiking, and support and preservation of traditional folk music and culture.

Ms. Friedman is originally from Los Angeles. In l968 she received a B.A. degree in English, with honors, from the University of California at Berkeley.

Public Speaking

All of Ms. Friedman's presentations are developed specifically for a given audience, after consultation with the appropriate parties. She thus does not offer standardized or "canned" talks. Many of her presentations are accompanied by PowerPoint audiovisuals. Watch a video of Emily Friedman.

Among her presentation topics are:

Presentations on other topics can and will be prepared if Ms. Friedman believes she is qualified to speak on the subject.

For speaking engagements, Ms. Friedman can be contacted directly or through speakers' bureaus. See contact information below.

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Books Available

In January 2006, Ms. Friedman's extensive report, White Coats and Many Colors: Population Diversity and its Implications for Health Care, was published by the American Hospital Association. It is available at no charge in electronic format: http://www.aha.org/aha/content/2005/pdf/WhiteCoatsManyColors.pdf (3.15 MB)

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Periodical Writings

Hospitals & Health Networks Online * Hospitals & Health Networks Daily * Modern Healthcare * Health Forum Journal

Ms. Friedman is contributing editor of Hospitals & Health Networks and columnist for Hospitals & Health Networks online; her column appears six times a year. She also writes for other periodicals.

Ms. Friedman's article Warning from a Mass Grave: Hospitals Under Attack is now available in two versions: Warning from a Mass Grave: Hospitals Under Attack — Updated (with footnotes) and Warning from a Mass Grave: Hospitals Under Attack — Updated (without footbotes).

From 1986 until July 2003, Ms. Friedman wrote an award-winning column on ethics and social policy in health care, "Making Choices," for the Health Forum Journal. In July 2003, the journal terminated publication. Several of Ms. Friedman's recent columns can be found on this website (see below), and earlier columns can be accessed at www.healthforumjournal.com.

A compendium of Ms. Friedman's Health Forum Journal columns from 1986 though January 1996 is available in her book, The Right Thing, available from her (autographed) for $38 (checks and cash only). See the "Books Available" section of this website for more information.

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Hospitals & Health Networks Online columns:

Hospitals & Health Networks Daily

Modern Healthcare columns:

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Health Forum Journal columns:

Other Writings

Emily's Blog

  • Population Health Improvement: Learning to Love "N"
  • How About that Hospital Food?
  • Awards and Honors

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    Comments on Emily Friedman's Speaking:

  • "You are one of the very best health care speakers and have been for a long time. You continue to capture the moment, especially the values underlying the debate."
    — Foundation executive
  • "You are a national treasure; I always enjoy and benefit from your work."
    — Health care system CEO
  • "You were certainly a highlight. I felt that you were able to present information that was educational, professionally valuable, and shocking at times, with a sense of purpose. Your speech stayed with me."
    — Hospital volunteer manager
  • "You are the best and above the rest!"
    — Health care consultant and historian
  • "It was a pleasure and an honor to hear you speak."
    — Health system trustee
  • "You offer a unique perspective on the wild world of delivering the oldest and most personal of services as if healing and comfort matter."
    — Health care association executive
  • "You reach our hearts and souls when you speak. Few others even try to challenge us to approach health care delivery with a conscience. I greatly admire you and what you stand for."
    — State hospital association CEO
  • "You have a moral force and a command of issues that compels a listener to carefully consider your point of view."
    — National consumer organization executive

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  • "The evaluation scores were off the charts!"
    — Health system executive
  • "I've heard nothing but positive comments regarding your presentation, and I am certain that you struck a chord with the audience!"
    — Health care system executive
  • "I heard lots of positive comments from many of those in the audience. It was good to have someone remind us that there is more to the compliance function than reading and implementing tons of regulations."
    — Health care system compliance executive
  • "I am continuing to receive fabulous feedback on your talk, like 'inspiring, she knows us, challenging.'"
    — National health care system vice-president
  • "She is one of the most influential health care speakers of our century."
    — Attendee, international health care conference
  • "[She] was excellent - one of the best plenary talks that I have heard for some time."
    — Attendee, international health care conference

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  • "Emily Friedman was a revelation."
    — Attendee, international health care conference
  • "Her keynote talk on rebuilding the Cambodian health care system was inspiring, fascinating, and beautifully delivered."
    — Attendee, international health care conference
  • "Emily Friedman was amazing!"
    — Attendee, international health care conference
  • "Wow! You were terrific and we have the evaluations to prove it! You hit all the right notes and even got a standing ovation!"
    — Health care system CEO
  • "Thanks so much for your phenomenal presentation and great facilitation!"
    — CEO, international health care company
  • "Great speaker! I could have listened to her for another hour! Great information as well."
    — Attendee, medical practice management association conference
  • "One hundred percent of participants agreed that your presentation was fair, balanced, and provided well-rounded data."
    — Executive director, medical practice management association
  • "You did a wonderful job of wrapping up many of the key elements from previous presentations, as well as adding the human/ethical dimension as only you can. As always, when you come among us, you do a fine job of enlightening people and making our meetings successful."
    — Hospital association CEO

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  • "What a magnificent job you did!"
    — Health care foundation CEO
  • "You really don't know how much your words touched me as you spoke tonight."
    — Nurse executive
  • "Thank you for making last night into one of our best evenings yet."
    — Ian Masters, radio host and director of the Hammer Forum, Armand Hammer Museum, UCLA
  • "A lot of rave reviews directed your way!"
    — Teaching hospital CEO
  • "I was moved by your passion and compassion, and others were as well. It is very moving to see someone as knowledgeable as you are in your field harnessing that knowledge for the common good. You bless us."
    — University official
  • "You were terrific, and many folks were still talking about it as they were going to their cars."
    — Hospital association executive
  • "She hit it out of the park! I could have listened to her all day."
    — Health system executive
  • "Your presentations were excellent."
    — Medical care foundation executive

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  • "Many thanks for the splendid presentation you gave.... It was thoughtful, hard-hitting, and provocative. Both the content and the manner in which you delivered it were outstanding."
    — Health care governance researcher/trustee
  • "Thanks for doing a fantastic job at the event!"
    — Speakers' bureau representative
  • "Stay the course as the 'voice of the patients' ... all patients."
    — Hospital association executive
  • "Thank you for sharing your expertise and the gifts of your talent and insight with us."
    — Hospital association executive
  • "Thank you for your fantastic presentation. As always, it is great to work with you."
    — Hospital executive
  • "We are still moved by your presentations; there were many discussions this morning about you and how wonderful you were!"
    — University official
  • "It was an absolute delight having you with us . . . Your remarks, as always, were so on target with our theme and wonderfully enhanced by your special research . . ."
    — State hospital association CEO

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  • "Your presentation was the highest ranked at the conference and resulted in many, many positive comments. Additionally, your presentation stimulated lively discussion throughout the entire three days of the meeting and we came away with many wonderful and thoughtful ideas of how to better serve our current and future members."
    — Health plan executive
  • "The board members loved you! They truly appreciated your expertise, style, and candor. They want you to come back!"
    — Health care foundation executive
  • "Fired up - could have spent the day with her!"
    — Aging Services professional
  • "I could have listened for hours - extremely informative!"
    — Health care executive
  • "Stellar comments and a richly deserved standing ovation . . ."
    — Medical association CEO
  • "Everyone was talking throughout the meeting about how much they enjoyed your keynote address."
    — Multistate association meeting professional

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  • "Thank you so much for your brilliant and engaging address. You made a tremendous impact on our leadership team – your observations, reinforcement and calls-to-action clearly resonated."
    — Fortune 500 health care company executive
  • "Your talk was a masterpiece!"
    — National health care magazine publisher
  • "As usual, you were stimulating, thoughtful, and right on target for the audience."
    — Health system CEO
  • "It was such a joy to have you as part of our conference! You are truly a gifted speaker with such an extraordinary mind. You received a 4.8 on a scale of 1-5. Our audience loved you!"
    — Corporate health care information technology executive
  • "The client was RAVING about you!!! You did a wonderful job!"
    — Speakers' bureau representative

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  • "The best keynote speaker we have had in nine years."
    — Medical society official
  • "For most of the audience, it was their first time hearing her speak, and I must say that her reviews were glorious!"
    — Hospital medical staff executive
  • "Even if some do not agree with what she has written or said, her audiences have always been impressed with her candor, provocative content, and insights."

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  • "Ms. Friedman's clear, cogent reasoning and courage to tell the truth are a welcome relief."
    — Health care association executive
  • "One good thing about your talks is that they always change!"
    — Hospital association CEO
  • "You were a raging success."
    — Health care attorney/association officer
  • "You were the reason for my attendance… and you were the high point of the conference."
    — National foundation executive

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  • "It is testimony to your effect on this industry that myself and others find your teachings memorable. Your advocacy makes a difference."
    — Hospital executive
  • "You are a great speaker and you taught me a lot."
    — Young health care executive
  • "This was a '10.' Highly detailed, yet global, with eloquent specific conclusions from all the facts."
    — Health system trustee

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  • "Your talk was a regular topic of conversation throughout the conference, and, I'm sure, beyond as well. It was inspirational, provocative, and thought provoking - and much needed and appreciated! Seldom do we get such rave reviews!"
  • "You are a rock star! In five years of hosting this conference, I had never seen or imagined a standing ovation [until you received one]. Your presentation exceeded my expectations, which were very high."
    — Ethics center executive
  • "You gave a superb presentation."
    — Trustee organization president
  • "She is both intelligent and witty. People loved her so much at the conference I hired her for that I am having her back."
    — Hospital association education director
  • "As usual, you were on target and thoroughly effective . . ."
    — Medical association executive
  • "Thanks for the thoughtful, funny, and moving presentation.... You more than deserved the standing ovation. . . . We were very lucky to find you."
    — Nutrition education professional
  • "Our hats are off to you . . . you were great!"
    — State public health official

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  • "You were a hit!"
    — Medical group executive
  • "Your presentation was splendid — not surprising, since your presentations are always splendid."
    — State hospital association CEO
  • "Your presentation provided a moving and inspiring message…"
    — State hospital association executive
  • "You did a great job. There were many kudos."
    — Professional meeting planner
  • "Staff . . . are already going back to your data and comments to figure out the implications for programming. Nothing could be a better outcome than that!"
    — National foundation executive
  • "Your insights . . . were enlightening and appreciated."
    — Medical association executive

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  • "Thank you for a wonderful presentation! You were a huge hit."
    — National association executive
  • "People realized that we ended with the perfect speaker — you."
    — National association executive
  • "Words totally inadequate to describe this presentation . . . unebelievable, wonderful, thought-provoking, and outrageous!"
    — Health care executive
  • "Exciting, excellent, top of the chart, inspiring, best speaker of the conference, challenged my thoughts."
    — Comments from meeting participants at a national conference

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    Comments on Emily Friedman's Writing:

  • "You keep turning out incredible articles."
    — Former CEO, integrated health care system
  • "Enjoying your articles!" "
    — CEO, major health care system
  • "You've done it again — making something some people may find mysterious quite clear."
    — Health care executive
  • "I especially appreciated your article on insurance. Quite a thought-provoking piece."
    — Health care governance expert

  • ""Keep the insightful and well-grounded pieces coming."
    — Physician executive
  • "Your willingness to dig deep and find all of the good things is a great boost to the many people who are committed to patients. More important is your willingness to allow yourself to explore all sides (when no one else will) — it is a real a tribute to your integrity."
    — Hospital association executive
  • "You always make a reader stop and think ... usually about things we would rather ignore."
    — Health care system executive
  • "You were one of the two most-read contributors to Hospitals & Health Networks Weekly in 2009. Your work also made the Top Ten list for Hospitals & Health Networks magazine as a whole."
    — Editor, Hospitals & Health Networks Weekly
  • "For me, you are [one of] the two best writers and commentators on health care policy in the USA. Unfortunately, too few are reading and thinking along the lines that you are."
    — Former hospital association executive

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  • "Keep up the good articles!"
    — Health system CEO
  • "Students mention to me how much they love your work."
    — Professor of health administration
  • "I loved the article you published about Hawaii."
    — Health insurance company CEO
  • "Thank you for continuing to write your insightful essays.... Frequently I tack them onto quizzes for my students."
    — Professor of health administration

    Thank you!

    Thank you for visiting this website! I hope you found it stimulating, inspiring, and life-changing — or at least informative.
    — Emily Friedman

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    © Copyright Emily Friedman 2002 – 2014. All rights reserved.