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Fall workshop on evidence-based medicine

Oct. 29 & 30 in Washington, D.C.
Learn how to use evidence-based skills to evaluate and report on medical research sent out in press releases, published or presented at conferences.

Get instruction about how to tap into research tools, make sense of statistics and understand screening decisions.

Sign up today: Registration ends Oct. 12.

Open fellowship opportunity

The AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance is a yearlong program allowing journalists to pursue a significant reporting project related to the U.S. health care system.

Fellows pursue the projects with the support of their newsrooms or freelance outlets, which commit to publish or air the work.

The application deadline is Nov. 2.

See other fellowships and career development opportunities...

 AHCJ Fellowship on Comparative Effectiveness Research

First class of Comparative Effectiveness Research Fellows named

Twelve journalists have been chosen for the inaugural class of the AHCJ Fellowship on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

The fellowship program was created with support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to help reporters and editors produce more accurate in-depth stories on medical research and how medical decisions are made.

AHCJ webcastUpcoming webcast

Using NARMS Now, a CDC data tool on antibiotic resistance
Oct. 22: 
Learn how to use a database and visualization tool that makes it quicker and easier to see how antibiotic resistance for four bacteria transmitted commonly through food has changed during the past 18 years.

HOW I DID IT: Latest updates

robotic surgery
Photo: Fort Belvoir Community Hospital via Flickr

Session ideas welcome for
Health Journalism 2016

Local and national planning committees are working on the program for AHCJ's annual conference. Health Journalism 2016 is planned for April 7-10 in Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Now is the time to send us your ideas about what sessions we should offer and speakers you want to hear from.

To suggest topics or speakers, please fill out the suggestion form.

The planning committee, AHCJ board members and staff will evaluate all the ideas and use them to come up with a dynamic and informative conference.

An examination of bundled payment:
How insurers and providers are dispelling the myths

AHCJ webcastRecording now available

While bundled payment initiatives from CMS have been criticized for not taking full advantage of this innovative payment model, in the private sector insurers, hospitals and physicians are demonstrating how to fully develop bundled payment programs and make the operational adjustments needed to ensure their long-term success.

Francois de Brantes of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute talked about how health insurers and providers are making bundled payment programs work.

Tip sheet: Tracking geographic disparities in organ transplants

David WahlbergWhen it comes to organ transplants, where people live has a lot to do with when they receive care.

David Wahlberg, a health reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal, explored geographic disparities in access to kidney and liver transplants in May in the first part of an ongoing series, “Living On: Improving The Odds of Organ Transplants,” supported by an AHCJ Fellowship on Health Care Performance.

In this tip sheet, Wahlberg offers AHCJ members tips on how to look at the organ transplantation divide for their readers.

Find and cover health stories in rural America

Rural Health Journalism WorkshopMore than 70 journalists and experts in health care and policy gathered for AHCJ’s eighth Rural Health Journalism Workshop to focus on the medical challenges of rural areas.

Topics included challenges of rural hospitals, mental health care, underserved places, culture and health, recruiting and preparing providers, and what journalists need to know about rural health.

Watch for speakers' presentations, tip sheets, blog posts and other resources from the workshop as we get them posted this week. 

Freelancers' Corner:
Resources just for independent journalists

Freelance PitchFest at Health Journalism 2015Writers pitch their story ideas to editors during the Freelance Pitchfest at Health Journalism 2015. (Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ)

AHCJ's re-vamped Freelancers' Corner offers resources and advice on topics that our independent members often deal with.

Get tips on pitching to publications, what to look for in contracts, how to make sure you're insured properly, developing business plans and handling finance. Learn more about how and where to spend precious time networking, as well as valuable information about how to build your brand. Successful and experienced members will offer nuggets of advice in our "Shared Wisdom" feature.

The new – and growing – Freelance Market Guide tells AHCJ’s freelancers what assigning editors at specific outlets are looking for from writers. These editors have been kind enough to share the mission of their outlets and set some parameters for pitching ideas.

There is a wealth of information gathered to help you get that next assignment.

Finding the story behind hospital mergers, consolidations

Dan Goldberg

Across the country, health systems are getting larger, gobbling up community hospitals or smaller chains. Some of this has to do with payment incentives in Obamacare, but just as much has to do with changes to Medicare, Medicaid and providers’ desire for leverage as they negotiate payments with insurance companies.

Dan Goldberg recently looked at New York's five large health systems and the strategies they were employing to diversify their revenue base while preparing to play in a post-ACA, value-based world.

In this tip sheet, he shares tips on covering hospital consolidations or mergers, including some key questions to ask and answer in your reporting.

AHCJ members can get data about medical training

In its ongoing effort to shed light on physician residency programs, AHCJ has announced a new benefit for members: Access to national rankings calculated based on 50,000 peer nominations from board-certified physicians, with geographic weighting.

AHCJ has worked with Doximity Inc. to provide members the first comprehensive national research on residency programs. Members can view national rankings calculated based on 50,000 peer nominations from board-certified physicians, with geographic weighting. Individual program data is calculated using a combination of aggregate public sources and Doximity network data.

Tips for covering scientific conferences

Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor

How can journalists make the most of their time and energy when covering a scientific or professional conference?

Mark Taylor recently attended the annual Scientific Meeting of the GSA, which featured more than 500 presentations, symposia and poster sessions. He also has covered other scientific conferences in his two decades as health care journalist, and he shares hard-earned wisdom on successfully covering such massive events. 

His tips include how to prepare before the conference, who to talk to, some key items to bring and how to plan out your coverage.

Six things to remember in reporting on health care costs

health care costsHealth care costs lack transparency and are wildly variable, not just from region to region but sometimes from block to block within the same city.

It is a complex topic, with chargemaster prices, what insurers paid and what consumers pay (if anything). Then there are the administrative rules set by Medicare and Medicaid and the negotiated rates between insurers and providers.

It's daunting, but three reporters have teamed up to offer guidance for reporting on health care costs.

Download CMS data on hospital costs

AHCJ offers federal government data showing what hospitals across the country charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure. The 2011 data includes bills submitted by 3,300 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed treatments. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs.

Reporting on costs requires interview strategy, resources

The cost of medicines, devices, tests and treatment is such an important element of health reporting that it is included in AHCJ's Statement of Principles: "Strive to include information about cost and insurance coverage in any reporting of new ideas in medicine."

To that end, Brenda Goodman and Michael Schroeder have contributed tip sheets to help reporters get that vital information. Goodman focuses on several resources where you might find pricing information, while Schroeder shares his strategy and the specific questions he asks sources about costs.

Association of Health Care Journalists Covering Health: An AHCJ blog

N.J. officials ask attorney general to investigate Horizon’s new tiered insurance network
Hospital administrators in New Jersey have asked state officials to intervene in a disagreement over a proposed tiered network of hospitals and doctors. During an all-day meeting Oct. 5 in Trenton, state officials asked acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman to stop the plan from being launched...

Controversy over blood pressure trial demonstrates danger of relying on press releases
When the headline on a news release begins with “landmark” and includes the words “lifesaving,” “greatly,” and “milestone,” a good health reporter’s Spidey sense should tingle. That holds true even when the announcement comes from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH’s...

How the system spells trouble for one health expert’s Rx
Last week, I shook the medicine bottle and felt just a few pills left. At the same time, weather forecasters were tracking hurricane making its way toward the eastern United States. I picked up the phone, called the 800-number on the bottle, punched in my prescription number and my refill was on my...

ProPublica offers rebuttal to Rand critique of Surgeon Scorecard
Not unexpectedly, ProPublica has published a response to the Rand Corporation’s recent 20-page critique of the journalism organization’s Surgeon Scorecard, a searchable database of complication rates for surgeons performing several elective operations. In a Rand summary of the...

How one reporter re-purposed her broadcast, online work for a new audience
Joanne Silberner did a heavily reported series of radio stories and web posts on cancer in developing countries in 2013. In 2014, Robert Lott, deputy editor of the health policy journal Health Affairs, asked if she would be willing to do a version for his journal. It would be easy, he said –...


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