The right to know: It’s a concept that underpins all journalism, and nowhere is it more important than in health care and medicine. Patients have a right to know what will keep them healthy and what will make them sick. Citizens have a right to know how effectively their government protects and serves those who depend on it. For health care journalists that means heavy responsibilities – and sometimes daunting challenges. Through its Right to Know Committee, AHCJ advocates for openness and provides resources for members striving to shed light on complex topics.
New tip sheet
Getting past gatekeepers
Scoring an interview with a scientist who works for a government agency can be frustrating and full of dead ends. It shouldn't be. See it now...
Arizona dental board action data
Investigation reveals disciplinary and non-disciplinary actions from 2010 through 2014. See it now...
More data on residency programs
AHCJ calls upon ACGME for more transparency on the quality of graduate medical education programs. See it now...
Reporters can encounter obstacles in obtaining documents that reveal what the government is doing, or failing to do – on the local, state and federal levels. Some public record laws are weak, and they may also be poorly enforced. Here are resources and stories to guide you in accessing public records.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act includes privacy protections for patients that can be misunderstood and misapplied by health officials and health care organizations. In some instances, HIPAA has been improperly used to deny reporters’ requests for interviews with patients and clinicians or to obtain medical information. Reporters should be familiar with the law in order to understand when and to whom it applies.
The high cost of medical care is one of the biggest challenges facing American society—a challenge made more difficult by a complex and shifting financing system. Journalists have a key role in informing the public about where and how money flows in health care, who benefits, and what practices yield the highest value.
The Association of Health Care Journalists advocates for the free flow of information for journalists and the public. Through its advocacy arm, the Right to Know Committee, it works to open doors to health and medical knowledge and serves as a resource for members having difficulty accessing information.
Association of Health Care Journalists » Right to know
Debunking myths designed to hinder price, quality transparency efforts
When writing about transparency in health care prices and quality, journalists should expose the myths that health care providers promote. That’s the advice Francois de Brantes gave during a session on price and quality transparency at Health Journalism 2015 last month. The executive director of...
Journalists get guidance on navigating HIPAA rules #ahcj15
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was enacted nearly 20 years ago to make reporters gnash their teeth. Not quite, presenters at Health Journalism 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif., told their audience. HIPAA, as it was birthed into law in 1996, was intended to make it easier for...
Investigation reveals dental board’s lack of transparency
How transparent is your state dental board when it comes to helping patients find out more about their dentists? In Arizona, the state board of dental examiners has taken actions against hundreds of dentists in recent years. But it can be difficult for a patient in the state to find out if his or...
How AHCJ engages in sustained push for transparency year round
In early February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advertised a telephone question-and-answer session intended for “non-press associated individuals.” Essentially anyone could listen in – except the members of the media. Crazy, right? But when a member of the Association of...
Try to talk with someone at an agency before making a records request. Often they will help you craft a request that won’t be denied and can help you understand what information exists and what is publicly available. Public officials frequently want to be helpful and understand they have to follow the law. Try to talk with someone at an agency
— Ellen Gabler, reporter and assistant editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s investigative team.