Category Archives: Tools

Get county-level data to report on competition in insurance marketplace

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.

downloading-and-uploading-data-iconAs large insurers, such as United Healthcare, Humana and Aetna, drop out of the Healthcare.gov marketplace, consumers are left with fewer and fewer choices, especially in certain geographic areas.

Sarah KliffSarah Frostenson and Soo Oh of Vox gathered the data to show us just how little competition there will be:

“There are currently 687 counties on the Healthcare.gov marketplace with just one insurer signed up to sell in 2017 — nearly four times the 182 counties that had one insurer this year.”

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Tip sheet suggests self-guided tutorial on understanding medical research

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.

Photo: ibbl via Flickr

Photo: ibbl via Flickr

If you’re relatively new to reporting on medical studies or looking for a refresher as you dive back in after a long hiatus, Sharon Begley’s blog piece earlier this year and this quick-and-dirty refresher at AHCJ’s Medical Studies core topic area are great places to start.

But as you spend more time reporting on research, you need to learn more of the nuts and bolts and drill down into specifics of study design, drug approval, and related topics.

You need a Medical Research 201 rather than a 101. This new tip sheet explains one way to conduct a self-guided tutorial if you already feel comfortable with the basics. See the tip sheet.

AHCJ update: Three years of Medicare provider payment data for your state

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.

map-with-excelIn 2014, Medicare paid more than $78 billion to surgeons, ambulance services, podiatrists, hospice services, eye doctors, family physicians, speech, physical and occupational therapists, and dozens more.

AHCJ has updated Medicare payment data for its members in an easy-to-use format – spreadsheet files listing specific providers and broken down by state. Journalists can download and analyze these files – covering 2012, 2013 and now 2014 – to find stories for their audiences. Continue reading

It’s not always easy to find the right case history to flesh out your reporting

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Broad Bean Media via Flickr

Photo: Broad Bean Media via Flickr

Where would journalists be without good tips?

It wasn’t long after the AHCJ website increased its focus on LGBT health issues, as part of its core topic section on social determinants of health, that a tip floated in with kudos for some pieces that Lisa Esposito of U.S. News & World Report had written on the issue (notably, the tip was from one of her editors). Continue reading

Assessing a journal’s quality can help assess a study’s newsworthiness

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.

Photo: usabiomedlib via Flickr

Photo: usabiomedlib via Flickr

Perhaps you stumble onto an intriguing study that you haven’t seen covered and want to report on it. Or you receive a press release touting provocative findings that sound pretty astonishing … if they’re true. One potential indication of the paper’s significance and quality is the journal in which it was published.

Publication in a highly regarded journal is not a guarantee in itself that the paper is good – the blog Retraction Watch has hundreds of examples of that. In fact, one of the most famously retracted studies of all time – that of Andrew Wakefield’s attempt to link autism and vaccines in a small cases series – was published in The Lancet, one of the top medical journals in the U.K. (Ironically, that study continues to contribute to The Lancet’s impact factor because it’s the second-most-cited retracted paper as ranked by Retraction Watch.) Continue reading