Speakers, sessions coming together for Health Journalism 2013 in Boston

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

Boston’s historic waterfront will be the backdrop of Health Journalism 2013, AHCJ’s annual conference March 14-17.

Donald Berwick
Donald Berwick
David Goldhill
David Goldhill
Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman
Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman
Farzad Mostashari
Farzad Mostashari
Deval Patrick
Deval Patrick

Held at the Seaport Boston Hotel and the adjacent Seaport World Trade Center, the conference will gather hundreds of journalists as they take part in skill-building workshops, sit in on panel discussions and visit area research sites. The conference, produced by the association’s Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, features world-class speakers, important news briefings and helpful sessions all aimed at aiding reporters, editors and news producers in better covering the latest health issues.

Kickoff speakers for March 14 will include Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston physicians Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband.

The conference begins early that day with two busloads of journalists who pre- register for field trips to local research and medical facilities, and a series of class-like settings designed to bring hands-on training in two tracks of workshops. The kick- off speakers and opening reception will round out the day.

Patrick has seen the state’s expansion of health insurance coverage, now at 98 percent of Massachusetts residents. Groopman is the Dina and Raphael Recanati Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He writes regularly about biology and medicine for lay audiences as a staff writer at The New Yorker. Hartzband is an attending physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School.

The two have coauthored articles in The New England Journal of Medicine on the changing culture of clinical care. They have addressed the impact of electronic records, uniform practice guidelines, mon- etary incentives, the Internet and economic language used to describe medical professionals. They are bimonthly columnists for ACP Internist, the publication of the American College of Physicians. They have written for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and now their first book together, “Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You.” In 2011, each received the Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

March 15 and 16 focus on panels covering a range of health issues – business, public policy, public health, medical research, clinical health care, journalism and global health. The panels will feature experts in research, policy and practice, as well as experienced and knowledgeable journalists. Some sessions will provide extra advice for freelance writers, and the annual Freelance PitchFest will provide them an opportunity to meet with assigning editors and potentially land assignments.

Other notable speakers include David Goldhill, president and CEO of GSN (formerly the Game Show Network), and author of “Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father – And How We Can Fix It,” and Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M., national coordinator for health information technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Goldhill will speak at the annual luncheon where winners of the latest Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism will receive their prizes. He is a member of the board of directors of The Leapfrog Group, an employer-sponsored organization dedicated to hospital safety and transparency. His book, according to NPR, “tells the story of how he lost his father to hospital-acquired infections. Combining personal experience with research, Goldhill argues against the expansion of insurance coverage while recommending a patient-empowering approach that would make health care transparent, affordable, and effective.”

Mostashari joined HHS’ Office of National Coordinator for Health IT as its deputy national coordinator in July 2009. He previously served at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as Assistant Commissioner for the Primary Care Information Project, where he facilitated the adoption of prevention-oriented health information technology by more than 1,500 providers in underserved communities.Health Journalism 2013

The conference wraps up on March 17 with half a day of popular “How-to Sunday” sessions. The expert instructors will lead the attendees through reporting techniques, with special focus on data and documents, with ideas and information they can take back to their own desks.

The conference hotel and conference center is located in the growing Seaport District, also known as the South Boston Waterfront. It’s near restaurants and museums and is easy to reach. Besides taxis and buses, a water taxi across the street offers connections to downtown and to Logan International Airport. The Silver Line Waterfront (SL1) transit line stops almost directly beneath the hotel and connects travelers to Logan Airport in one direction and South Station, served by Amtrak, in the other direction.