Category Archives: Health data

Flaws, limits and conflicts: Tips to find study pitfalls #AHCJ16

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.

At Health Journalism 2016 in Cleveland, Andrew M. Seaman and Hilda Bastian discussed shortcuts for weighing the likelihood a study’s answer is right, making sense of shifting bodies of evidence and cutting through researcher spin. Continue reading

Using quality ratings in reporting on health care #AHCJ16

Lisa Aliferis

About Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED's State of Health blog. Since 2011, she's been writing and editing for the site. She has produced health stories for television and written a guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis.

When I told a friend at Health Journalism 2016 that I would be attending and writing a short post on the “health ratings” session, she replied “I do not write about quality ratings!”

I’ve felt this same fatigue myself.

But the four panelists at the session, “Rating health care providers, when journalists measure quality” showed how ratings reports can be an important tool in covering either your local area or getting at national stories. Continue reading

New AHCJ benefit offers wealth of health care data

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.

AHCJ members will now get special access to data tools, thanks to an agreement the organization has made with Carevoyance, a company that provides health care data from public and private data sources.


This new member benefit allows AHCJ members to use data – at no cost – to enhance their health reporting with detailed information about health care providers. AHCJ is working with Carevoyance to provide data covering hospitals, physicians, laboratories and other providers.

You can find information about provider specialties, finances, referrals, affiliations, patient demographics, prescriptions and basic contact information. AHCJ members can search by geography, names, specialties and more.

How two U.S. health agencies are examining social determinants

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 She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at

Photo: CDC/Emily WeyantTwo federal health agencies are tackling social issues related to healthcare. Results from other studies are available at the library of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Photo: CDC/Emily WeyantTwo federal health agencies are tackling social issues related to health care. Results from other studies are available at the library of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data is the new king of journalism, but when it comes to some aspects of the social sciences – such as the social determinants of health – the numbers can be a bit tricky to nail down.

That may be changing. The U.S. Department of Health recently announced two separate initiatives targeting health disparities.

First, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this month announced a pilot program to tie medical services for beneficiaries to housing, food, transportation and other social services. Continue reading

Looking back at 2015 on Covering Health

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

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

top-25Bacon, chocolate, vaccines and Mark Cuban: Those were the topics of some of the most-read Covering Health posts of 2015.

Of course there was plenty of reporting about health reform, the business of health care, medical research and quality of life as the population ages. We also had some important posts addressing special concerns of freelance health and medical writers.

If you find yourself stuck waiting in a line or an airport over the holidays, you might take a look back and see if these posts spark any ideas for your future reporting. Continue reading