Put risk in context in covering latest on Delta variant and CDC mask guidance

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: Petra Wessman ia Flickr

I am sure many of you are scrambling to cover the latest about the Delta variant and the leak of data that informed the CDC’s change in mask guidance this week.

The data – leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post Thursday evening (July 29) – showed those vaccinated can still be contagious, and there are more vaccinated people becoming infected than expected: 35,000 a week of 162 million vaccinated.

It sounds scary, but the key thing to remember in your reporting is to put risks in context: “Vaccinated people can transmit Delta if infected, however the majority of transmission is still by UNVACCINATED – that is where the focus should be,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and an excellent health communicator, on Twitter Friday, July 30. Continue reading

Data breaches on the rise: What you need to know

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 by Sai Kiran Anagani via Unsplash

Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani via Unsplash

If it seems as if you’ve been reading more about data breaches of hospitals and health care organizations lately, you’re not imagining it.

Between 2009 and 2020, 3,705 health care data breaches involving 500 or more records have been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, according to an article in HIPAA Journal. Those breaches resulted in the loss, theft, exposure or impermissible disclosure of over 268 million health care records. The average number of breaches per day in 2020 was 1.76. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, and an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

Welcome new membersPlease welcome our newest members of AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Wednesday NIH webinar on women and alcohol highlights obscured problem

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.

While recent headlines have pointed out the disastrous rise in opioid use during the pandemic, less attention has focused on alcohol consumption during the pandemic and relapses among those with alcohol use disorder. Even more under-recognized is the prevalence and burden of alcohol use disorder among women, who too often aren’t included in discussions about the condition.

Yet research from the National Institutes of Health shows that the gender gap between men’s and women’s alcohol consumption is narrowing — and that’s not a good thing. Higher levels of alcohol consumption had already been on the rise in older adults and particularly in women prior to 2020, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this health issue. Continue reading

STAT health tech reporter says speed in the sector is a double-edged sword

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.

Erin Brodwin

Erin Brodwin

Erin Brodwin is a San Francisco-based health tech reporter at STAT. Since 2019, she’s covered artificial intelligence in health care, written breaking news about health tech companies and covered wearable technologies and their impact on digital health. Her recent stories include a profile of the first chief medical officer of a maternal and family virtual care platform called Maven Clinic and an article about Apple’s new features for sharing health data with doctors and tracking trends. She also is one of four co-authors of STAT’s free biweekly Health Tech electronic newsletter. Previously, Erin covered health tech for Business Insider.

I interviewed Erin recently about some of the trends in health tech and her advice to AHCJ members looking to break into this space. She advises us to think about whom tech innovation benefits or harms, its significance more broadly and whether something billed as innovative truly is. (Responses have been lightly edited and condensed.) Continue reading