What journalists should know about hospital ratings

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

PhotoJoel Dinda via Flickr

Photo: Joel Dinda via Flickr

Journalists should take hospital ratings with a healthy dose of skepticism, according to experts at a recent AHCJ New York chapter event. Simply looking at an institution’s overall rating is just the start. Reporting that without understanding what’s being rated and how “success” is measured does a disservice to your audience.

Ratings are far from perfect and are ever evolving. That leaves journalists in kind of a quandary, noted chapter president Trudy Lieberman. “What do we do about the ratings, how do we judge them, how do we use them in our stories and which ones should we use?” Continue reading

ProPublica writer ties health disparities to the financial beat

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at susan@healthjournalism.org.

Covering health disparities is not a beat solely for health reporters.

Take Paul Kiel: A reporter at ProPublica, Kiel’s beat covering consumer finance usually has him covering a string of pocketbook issues, such as high-cost loans and debt collection practices.

But when those pocketbook stories started drifting into the health realm, Kiel found himself like many other journalists on other beats suddenly digging into the complicated world of medicine, providers and costs. Continue reading

Bill expanding Medicare dental care faces uphill climb in Congress

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Jan Fidler via Flickr

Photo: Jan Fidler via Flickr

America’s 55 million Medicare beneficiaries would receive comprehensive dental, vision and hearing benefits under a bill introduced this month in Congress.

HR 5396 (Medicare Dental, Vision and Hearing Benefit Act of 2016) is given no chance of passage by Govtrack.us, a website that tracks Congressional legislation and computes the probability for enactment. But the bill serves of a reminder of gaps in Medicare coverage that represent significant challenges to many elderly and disabled Americans. Continue reading

State prescription drug monitoring programs a window into fight against opioid abuse

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

Photo: ^Thais^ via Flickr

Photo: ^Thais^ via Flickr

With an estimated 78 opioid-related deaths per day nationwide, policymakers, journalists and the public are sounding the alarm on overprescribing of narcotic painkillers.

Reporters covering the opioid crisis might want to look at state efforts to track opioid prescribing by physicians. State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases that gather information from pharmacies on controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs are potentially powerful disincentives for overprescribing, according to a recent study. Continue reading

Tips to expand coverage of LGBT health beyond HIV and AIDS

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Ted Eytan via Flickr

Photo: Ted Eytan via Flickr

For the past several decades, HIV and AIDS have dominated discussions and reporting about LGBT health. While HIV/AIDS continues to be relevant to this population, thorough coverage of health for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be much more comprehensive in examining other challenges they face.

Several takeaways from the Health Journalism 2016 session, “Beyond HIV/AIDS: Reporting on the LGBT Community,” can help reporters go beyond those issues to discover new stories and important trends. Two major themes emerged from the session that offer fertile ground for deeper reporting. Continue reading