HIMSS Analytics' VP of market research Marc Holland left a deep legacy on health IT, family, and colleagues.
Last week, we mourned the loss of Marc Holland, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics VP of market research, who passed away on April 16.
I was particularly jarred by his death because we breakfasted together in Northern New Jersey (very close to where we both live) just about one month ago. Leaving the meal, what struck me was not a man in physical peril--Holland seemed perfectly healthy--but one absolutely beaming about his place in life. That beaming, I believe, was the result of complete fulfillment on both a personal and professional level.
On a personal level, all I can say is that Holland talked proudly of his robust family, as he peppered me with questions about the impending birth of my second son. Professionally, he felt at the pinnacle of a healthcare IT career that was nearing 40 years in duration. That pinnacle was the position he had accepted at HIMSS Analytics in December.
While Holland and I had some interactions before, we began to talk more frequently after he parted ways with Health Industry Insights in May 2009. Our interactions again increased when I launched healthsystemCIO.com in January 2010, as we talked of ways to work together. Before my policies narrowed contributions to hospital-based IT executives, Holland was one of the few outside that group I chose to publish.
Towards the end of last year, he called to get my thoughts on the HIMSS Analytics role that had been offered to him when Dave Garets left the organization to join the Advisory Board Company. With no hesitation, I said it was a perfect match, as his experience and interests would dovetail nicely with the role. Holland said he thought so too and used the word "honored" in describing his feelings about being considered. HIMSS president and CEO Stephen Lieber also mentioned this in a statement about Holland's death, and Holland said so himself in a blog post when he took the new position.
While it might seem sad that a man in such a satisfied and contented state was suddenly taken from it, I choose to think of it quite differently. A well-lived life has little to do with quantity, and much with quality. For 40 years, Holland lived a quality professional life; he did meaningful work that required the use of all his talents and abilities.
A look at his career shows no wasted jobs, no wasted years spent punching a clock. Holland didn't wait until he was 62 to start living; he started, it could be said, with his work as a staff management engineer at Montefiore Medical Center in 1974, and never stopped.
When I think of our breakfast together on March 25, when I picture him in my mind's eye, he is smiling. When I think of Holland's passing, I'm not sad. I'm happy to have shared a few moments with someone who lived so well and thus, I have no doubt, passed his last moments in calm and contented tranquility.
If we are to earn a similarly graceful end, we must cherish our good fortune and divorce ourselves from that which does not bring such satisfaction. In short, we must honor the time we are given by spending it well. How better to honor Holland's memory than by following his wonderful example.
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