The nuts and bolts of solutions-focused health care journalism

About Erica Tricarico

Managing Editor Erica Tricarico is a graduate of Howard University and the master’s program in journalism at CUNY. Tricarico comes to AHCJ from MJH Life Sciences in Cranbury, N.J., where she managed an editorial team producing content on animal care. Before that, she was a freelance health care reporter for Everyday Health.

People are increasingly avoiding the news, largely because they say it’s negatively impacting their mood, according to a 2019 Reuters digital news report. There may be a way to change that through solutions journalism, which doesn’t just report on problems; it aims to inform the public about how people and communities are responding to major social issues.

As Julia Hotz with the Solutions Journalism Network noted Tuesday in an AHCJ webcast, editors are on the lookout for pitches with a solutions focus. During the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, solutions-focused reporting has grown in popularity, said Hotz, a journalist who’s reported solutions stories for multiple publications including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Continue reading

Federal information blocking rule: What health care journalists need to know

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is a MedPage Today contributor and investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Photo by Juhan Sonin via Flickr.

With so much focus — and rightly so — on COVID-19, it’s understandable that even the best health care journalists have overlooked a critically important patient safety story, one that few I know had even heard about.

On April 5, 2021, the federal Information Blocking rule went into effect, allowing basically anyone who provides health care, “defined as “actors,” to release electronic health records in 16 categories such as summary visit notes, lab and pathology reports, and imaging studies to the patient’s health portal as soon as they are available electronically. According to the rule, that means even before the doctor has had a chance to review them, and before the provider has had a chance to explain or discuss what’s in those documents with the patient. Talk about a huge culture shift. Continue reading

Remote patient monitoring the next wave in telehealth

About Karen Blum

Karen Blum is AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT. An independent journalist in the Baltimore area, she has written health IT stories for publications such as Pharmacy Practice News, Clinical Oncology News, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, General Surgery News and Infectious Disease Special Edition.

Photo via Chassey uses a home healthcare kit as part of the COVID-19 Remote Monitoring Program, a joint effort of the Virtual Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Dec. 18, 2020.

Telehealth wasn’t the only health care technology that took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote patient monitoring — the use of mobile devices to monitor patient vital signs at home, plus in-home or virtual visits by health care providers — also has increased due to the public health emergency.

Before the pandemic, a big challenge for remote monitoring was helping large health care organizations, systems and plans to prioritize implementing virtual care technologies beyond just a pilot phase, Drew Schiller, co-founder and CEO of the technology firm Validic, said during a recent webinar hosted by the American Telemedicine Association.

“We were stuck in this endless cycle of trying things,” Schiller said. But once the pandemic hit, remote monitoring, telehealth and other technologies “immediately jumped to the forefront” and showed everyone how they could be used to scale remote care,” he said: “It was obviously a regrettable circumstance … but from a health care technology perspective, it has advanced the industry at least five years, if not a full decade, in a very short amount of time. Continue reading

Editors already on board for virtual PitchFest, set for Oct. 27-28

About Jeanne Erdmann

Jeanne Erdmann is an award-winning health and science writer based in Wentzville, Mo. A member of AHCJ's board of directors, she is the chair of the organization's Freelance Committee. Her work has appeared in Discover, Women’s Health, Aeon, Slate, The Washington Post, Nature, Nature Medicine and other publications.

Although Health Journalism has been postponed until 2022, PitchFest is a go — in a virtual format like last year’s event.

Here is how PitchFest will work: The event will take place over two days, Wednesday, October 27, and Thursday, October 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Participating editors will choose two-hour slots. Some may choose two consecutive hours, while others may select 30-minute slots that work best for their schedule. They may also choose to schedule slots on both days.

Each participant will have up to 10 minutes with each editor. Appointments will be 10 minutes without a break between appointments. Participants will have to keep careful watch on the time and start wrapping up pitches at 8 minutes, so everyone can remain on time. Continue reading

Webinar: What solutions-focused journalism has to offer health care reporters

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Photo by Kristin Wolff via Flickr

Some of my favorite pieces to report have been about solutions to social problems. These stories usually took me out of the office and into the field, which I always prefer to do when time — and pay — allows.

A few stories in particular stand out in my mind as having been great opportunities to learn something new and interesting. One examined how a rural hospital emergency department was able to reduce its prescribing of opioids. Another explored the responses of community health workers who were concerned that large health systems were subverting their mission. Continue reading