Cover health care, or any beat, long enough and most journalists will discover that one story leads naturally to another.
Misty Williams (@ajchealthcare), who covers health care for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has taken that concept to another level. She found that one series of articles leads to another.
In a new How I Did It for healthjournalism.org, Williams explained that in the spring of last year, she began work on a series to outline how the Affordable Care Act was affecting Georgia consumers. In that series, she reported that 400,000 state residents made too much money to qualify for Medicaid but also too little to receive tax subsidies for health insurance on the federal marketplace. Georgia is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Continue reading
Reporter Amy Neff Roth (@OD_Roth), of the Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch found an interesting story with the help of hospitalinspections.org.
Roth, who attended Health Journalism 2015 as an AHCJ-New York Health Journalism Fellow, investigated the circumstances around a triple homicide and found that not all emergency room patients in need of mental health evaluations were getting them.
Police brought [Paul] Bumbolo into the ER for an evaluation on Jan. 6 after he reportedly attacked his uncle and beat the family dog. Police said he killed his adoptive mother, uncle and sister several hours after being released.
Photo: Carla K. Johnson(from left) Paul Epner of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Dr. Karen Cosby of Rush University Medical School, and Dr. David Liebovitz of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. spoke to Chicago’s AHCJ chapter.
If you’ve read Dr. Lisa Sanders’ “Diagnosis” column in The New York Times Magazine, you know the process of identifying a patient’s problem can be fraught with opportunities for error. You also know diagnosis is rich territory for dramatic storytelling.
For health care journalists, it’s a great time to write about the topic. Errors in diagnosis are receiving new attention because of the recently released Institute of Medicine report “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.” It’s part of the landmark “Quality Chasm Series” that produced the “To Err is Human” report in 2000 and the “Crossing the Quality Chasm” report in 2001. Continue reading
Source: California Healthcare Compare and Consumer ReportsCalifornia Healthcare Compare provides price and quality data for hospitals and physicians in 18 regions of California.
California has embraced the Affordable Care Act in big way. It launched one of the first and most robust state-run health insurance exchanges, and expanded its Medicaid program (known as Medi-Cal) to enroll the uninsured.
As a result, the state’s uninsured rate dropped from 6.5 million residents in 2013 (which is 17.2 percent of the state’s population) to 4.8 million last year (12.4 percent), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (See AHCJ’s coverage of the bureau’s latest data release here and here.) Continue reading
Efforts to improve health care quality and safety are mostly missing one significant source of concern: diagnostic errors, according to a report Tuesday from the Institute of Medicine. Improving Diagnosis in Health Care is the fourth in a series of IOM reports on patient safety.
In this Sept. 22 report, the IOM said that about 5 percent of U.S. adults who seek outpatient care experience a diagnostic error each year. Diagnostic errors contribute to about 10 percent of patient deaths, and account for about 6 percent to 17 percent of adverse events in hospitals. Continue reading
A recent post by Bruce Japsen at Forbes makes a quick supplement to a post we did recently highlighting how hospitals are faring in Medicaid expansion states vs. nonexpansion states.
Japsen knows a lot about the business side of the hospital industry and has written about the ACA’s impact on hospital finance. Recently he’s been paying attention to second-quarter earnings reports of publicly traded hospital companies. (As he notes, it’s the sixth quarter since ACA coverage expansion began.) Continue reading
Vox’s Sarah Kliff, who has an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, is writing a series about fatal, preventable medical errors.
Not the inevitable tragic things that can happen to a patient – but the ones that we know how to avoid, the lives that should not be at risk. Kliff spent several months on one story – actually a story and accompanying video and graphics – that combined insights about how hospitals think central line infections and a gripping narrative about the death of a 3-year-old girl. You can find the story here.
Kliff wrote a “How I did It” essay for AHCJ that addresses a lot of the nuts and bolts of a vast project like this. She outlines how she reached out to patients/families, how she organized the voluminous – initially not searchable – medical records, how she found researchers who could elucidate things she did not fully understand in those records.
And she talks about the power of a good analogy to both organize a 5000-word narrative and give readers an accessible entry point to her work. Read about how she did it.
We’ve all written a lot about the “Medicaid gap” – the low-income people who can’t get coverage under the Affordable Care Act because their states have opted out of Medicaid expansion. The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that 4 million people fall in this gap.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, nonprofit hospitals in expansion states have seen their bad debt from unpaid bills drop an average of 13 percent as they treated more patients who have coverage. In non-expansion states, bad debt rose.
Reuters’ Robin Respaut recently looked at how the Medicaid gap has affected two iconic urban safety net hospitals who treat a lot of low income people – Cook County in Chicago and Grady Memorial in Atlanta. Continue reading
We’ve told you over and over again on this blog that the Affordable Care Act isn’t just about coverage. It’s also about changing how health care is delivered, moving away from fee-for-service to a more value- and quality-based system. Medicare is aiming to have half of its payments under alternative payment models by 2018.
That means hospitals have to change. But not all of them want to.
Fee-for-service is the preferred business model for many. Why should those hospitals want to go through considerable expense and upheaval to switch to a new system that demands more – and may well pay less? Continue reading
As senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media for more than six years, Cheryl Clark wrote more than 1,300 stories about hospitals’ efforts to improve quality and safety and related issues.
Rates of sepsis seemed to be one more dirty little hospital horror to explore, one that the Joint Commission said cost hospitals about $16.7 billion annually. Yet hospitals’ efforts to tackle it seemed hidden behind improvement initiatives attracting more attention, such as reducing hospital-acquired infections, and preventable readmissions, lowering emergency room wait times and raising patient experience scores.
The story she wrote for the June 2014 issue of HealthLeaders’ print magazine, on how U.S. hospitals are improving recognition and treatment of sepsis — which is diagnosed in 750,000 patients a year and kills 40 percent — won the 2015 National Institute of Health Care Management prize in the trade print category. They said the story was “most likely to save a life.”
In a new article for AHCJ, she explains how she did her reporting, despite a lack of data and sources who didn’t want to talk. Read more.