New tip sheet outlines criteria for reporting on hospital rankings

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

star-ratingReporting on hospital ratings — the “best of,” “top ten” and other rankings designed to help consumers with decision making are not necessarily all they’re cracked up to be. So much more goes in to these rankings than just the letter or number grade. Savvy reporters should pause and consider many angles before jumping in to proclaim that their local hospital is “best,” “worst” or somewhere in between.

Ratings certainly help with improving transparency and the patient’s right to know. However, it’s important that journalist know how to read between the lines and question the methodology and potential biases.

Liz Seegert has put together a new tip sheet on the topic based on ideas presented at an event last month sponsored by AHCJ’s New York chapter. A panel moderated by ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein featured Robert Penzer, M.D., chief quality officer at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a steering committee member for the Healthcare Association of New York State; Leah Binder, chief executive of the Leapfrog Group; and Marshall Allen, a reporter for ProPublica.

How oncologists are getting cancer patients involved in discussions about costs, quality

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Physicians and other health care providers are just beginning to talk with patients about health care costs and quality. On the leading edge of this trend are oncologists, some of whom are developing tools to stimulate these conversations with cancer patients.

For journalists interested in this topic, a recording is available of a webcast we did on this topic last month. Continue reading

Reporters learn about wearables, health IT and telehealth

Kimberly Leonard

About Kimberly Leonard

Kimberly Leonard (@leonardkl)is a health care reporter at U.S. News and World Report. She is a co-chair of the Washington, D.C., chapter of AHCJ.

Photo: Tina Reed, Washington Business Journal

More than 20 people came to the July 14, AHCJ chapter event in Washington, D.C., to learn about how technology affects health and what regulatory issues to watch out for.

The conversation was moderated by Politico Pro’s David Pittman (@David_Pittman), who covers health information technology. Pittman, who proposed the event, invited the panelists for their participation, and pitched the idea to the chapter co-chairs. The panelists were: Continue reading

What Pokémon Go could mean for health care

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.

The story angles for Pokémon Go appear to be almost as limitless as the game’s sudden and phenomenal popularity.

Pokémon Go is a fitness story. Pokémon Go is a mental health story. Pokémon Go is a marketing story. And, my favorite, Pokémon Go is a story about tired dogs.

What can Pokémon Go tell us about the future of health care? Continue reading

Rise in obesity among older adults will increase burden on health system

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.

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, CDC

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, CDCPrevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults by State and Territory

Obesity in older adults is a very real and growing challenge. Since 1991, there’s been a steady increase in obesity rates among both men and women in the 55 and older age bracket.

In just one year (from 2013 to 2014), a Gallup poll found that the greatest increase in obesity was among the 65-plus age group (from 26.3 to 27.9 percent). A small annual increase can result in a lot of extra pounds over the years. This likely will put the health system under additional strain as baby boomers age into Medicare and as people live longer with weight-related chronic disease. Continue reading