Michigan joins ranks of states allowing use of dental therapists

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: ktpupp via Flickr

Michigan has become the latest state to approve the use of mid-level dental providers — dental therapists — as part of an effort to expand oral health care to communities that have long lacked it.

Outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation authorizing the new provider model in late December.

In a statement, Snyder said that dental therapists would serve as “a unique tool to target the currently underserved populations in our state.” Continue reading

Medical marijuana’s popularity growing among seniors

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Dank Depot via Flickr

There are plenty of stories about older adults increasingly turning to medical marijuana to combat various ailments — from pain relief to Parkinson’s disease. A recent preliminary retrospective study found that it may be a safe and effective alternative to opioids.

Researchers from the Dent Neurological Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., found that more than two-thirds of study participants experienced at least some relief from pain. However, only one-third of them also reduced their use of opioids. Continue reading

Are we facing a crisis in the direct care workforce?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Anne Worner via Flickr

Over the past few months, we’ve seen a rash of headlines about workforce shortages in home health care and nursing homes. As we all know by now, the population is aging and studies show most seniors want to age in place.

Realistically, many of them need, or will need, some extra help to do so. And those who can’t live out their lives at home will likely wind up in a nursing home.  Time Magazine asked “Who will care for the Baby Boomers?” and called the situation “a growing American crisis. “ Continue reading

Finding stories in the looming primary care shortage

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Photo: Erin Keller via Flickr

One recent workday, I called my primary care physician’s office and immediately was transferred to voicemail. Usually, I’m perhaps the “fifth caller in queue,” or on a lucky day, the second caller. That day — probably because it was a Monday in winter and people were kicking off their week by calling the doctor — the perky robot voice told me that I was the 14th caller. I hung up, determined to call again later. Continue reading

Tip sheet helps journalists cover vaccine hesitancy responsibly

Bara Vaida

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 outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Tara Haelle, AHCJ core topic leader on medical studies, contributed to this post.

Journalists have a tricky role when covering a public health issue like vaccine hesitancy and opposition. We have a responsibility to report medical facts, but we also want to tell stories of these facts playing out in real life – and we must avoid appearing as advocates or taking a “stance” on whether parents should vaccinate their children or not.

The medical evidence is clear – vaccines are safe and effective – but a small minority of people refuse, or remain unable, to accept medical evidence. Since that small minority can have a substantial impact on public health more broadly, journalists have to capture the micro and the macro while balancing storytelling with facts. Continue reading

Researchers see potential for teledentistry to address disparities in care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Matt Madd via Flickr

Telehealth technologies are on the rise, connecting patients and providers, and expanding access to crucial health services that can be scarce and sometimes difficult to reach. Thanks to digital innovations, high-risk infants and stroke patients are receiving specialty care remotely. People coping with anxiety and depression are benefiting from therapist-supported internet cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the field of oral health, teledentistry is proving increasingly useful too, according to the December issue of Health Affairs that explored the transformative potential of telehealth technologies. Continue reading