Category Archives: Hospitals

Pharmacy access story gains stronger local angle from inventive use of study’s own data

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at

Photo: Ben Husmann via Flickr

Photo: Ben Husmann via Flickr

Local pharmacies have limited hours? Turns out that this is way more than an inconvenience. It may also be a factor in hospital readmissions. Patients who can’t easily get their medications from an accessible, nearby – and open! – pharmacy are more likely to end up back in the hospital.

Experts have been exploring possible reasons why so many patients bounce in and out of the hospital, and why it’s been hard to bring down the 30-day readmission rates, even with new financial incentives under the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

Journalist finds state budget cuts adversely affected patient care

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

Anyone who has started a new reporting job knows the feeling: You want to find some story somewhere on your beat that you can crank out to show you know how to deliver good copy on time.

It’s unlikely that you’re thinking you’ll uncover a big story that turns into a five-part series. But that’s what happened to Megan Hart, a reporter covering health care for KHI News Service in Topeka, Kan. Continue reading

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, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages 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 Panzer, 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.

For AHCJ members: Comparison tool for hospital Medicare charges

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.

downloading-and-uploading-data-iconAHCJ just updated its version of Medicare inpatient charge data covering hospitals across the United States.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its data, showing what hospitals charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure. Government data files include bills submitted by 3,500 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed inpatient treatments in federal fiscal years 2011 through 2014. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs and services. Continue reading

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, New America Media, 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