Author Archives: Carla K. Johnson

Carla K. Johnson

About Carla K. Johnson

Carla K. Johnson (@CarlaKJohnson) is a medical writer at The Associated Press and has covered health and medicine since 2001. A former member of AHCJ's board of directors, she leads the Chicago AHCJ chapter.

Chicago panel explores the world of drug pricing

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonCraig Garthwaite, assistant professor, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management (left); Roy Guharoy, Pharm.D. vice president and chief pharmacy officer for the Resource Group at Ascension (middle); and independent journalist and AHCJ member Duncan Moore (right) spoke at the Chicago chapter event “Drug Pricing: Covering the Controversy” at Columbia College in Chicago on Feb. 23.

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonCraig Garthwaite, assistant professor, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (left); Roy Guharoy, Pharm.D. vice president and chief pharmacy officer for the Resource Group at Ascension (middle); and independent journalist and AHCJ member Duncan Moore (right) spoke at the Chicago chapter event “Drug Pricing: Covering the Controversy” at Columbia College in Chicago on Feb. 23.

A blockbuster hepatitis C drug costs $84,000, straining state budgets. Martin Shkreli acquires the rights to a generic and raises its price 5,000 percent. Presidential candidates react to the public outcry, claiming they know what to do about the drug prices.

What does it all mean? Until recently, “there’s been an equilibrium in the public mind between a free market regimen of the market setting prices and what the public and payers are willing to pay,” said independent journalist Duncan Moore,  “but there are indications this informal tradeoff has begun to swing out of control.” Continue reading

Journalists learn about efforts to improve diagnostic process

Photo: Carla K. Johnson(from left) Paul Epner of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Dr. Karen Cosby of Rush University Medical School, and Dr. David Liebovitz of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. spoke to Chicago's AHCJ chapter.

Photo: Carla K. Johnson(from left) Paul Epner of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Dr. Karen Cosby of Rush University Medical School, and Dr. David Liebovitz of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. spoke to Chicago’s AHCJ chapter.

If you’ve read Dr. Lisa Sanders’ “Diagnosis” column in The New York Times Magazine, you know the process of identifying a patient’s problem can be fraught with opportunities for error. You also know diagnosis is rich territory for dramatic storytelling.

For health care journalists, it’s a great time to write about the topic. Errors in diagnosis are receiving new attention because of the recently released Institute of Medicine report “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.” It’s part of the landmark “Quality Chasm Series” that produced the “To Err is Human” report in 2000 and the “Crossing the Quality Chasm” report in 2001. Continue reading

Experts make some predictions about SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonBruce Japsen, Dan Yunker, Marilyn Serafini and Stephani Becker (l to r) discussed the possibility of 8 million people losing health insurance, during a Chicago AHCJ chapter event.

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonBruce Japsen, Dan Yunker, Marilyn Serafini and Stephani Becker (l to r) discussed the possibility of 8 million people losing health insurance, during an AHCJ Chicago chapter event.

Will fretting over King v. Burwell be remembered in the same breath as worries over Y2K?

Or will the calamity of 8 million people losing health insurance come true if the plaintiffs win their case at the U.S. Supreme Court? A ruling is expected in June.

With Alliance for Health Reform’s Marilyn Serafini acting as moderator, the Chicago chapter of AHCJ gathered on May 13 for a panel discussion on “The outlook for health insurance subsidies.” Continue reading

How close are we to meeting the promise of electronic health records?

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonA panel of experts discusses health information technology at an AHCJ Chicago chapter event on March 3 in Chicago. From left: Dr. Arnold “Ned” Wagner Jr., chief medical information officer, NorthShore University HealthSystem; Dr. Diane Bradley, senior vice president, chief quality and outcomes officer, Allscripts; Eric Yablonka, vice president and chief information officer, University of Chicago Medicine; and moderator Neil Versel, an independent journalist.

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonA panel of experts discuss health information technology at an AHCJ Chicago chapter event on March 3 in Chicago. From left: Dr. Arnold “Ned” Wagner Jr., chief medical information officer, NorthShore University HealthSystem; Dr. Diane Bradley, senior vice president, chief quality and outcomes officer, Allscripts; Eric Yablonka, vice president and chief information officer, University of Chicago Medicine; and moderator Neil Versel, an independent journalist.

Yes, technology is transforming health care. No, we haven’t come anywhere close to realizing the vision.

Smooth patient handoffs, data-driven performance improvement and real-time analytics are still mostly dreams, although those ambitions have been talked about for years.

Independent journalist Neil Versel, who specializes in health information technology, moderated a panel on March 3. The AHCJ Chicago chapter event was held at AMA Plaza, the new headquarters of the American Medical Association.

Electronic medical record systems “need to play nicer together so they can use each other’s information as if it was natively generated,” said Arnold “Ned” Wagner Jr., M.D., chief medical information officer of NorthShore University HealthSystem. “Can we talk to each other transparently? Well, partly. The success of communication depends on human behavior and (technology’s) job is to help understand the reality of what motivates people to do things.” Continue reading

Freelancer concerns: You might get caught in your pajamas

Photo by  Carla K. Johnson.

Photo: Carla K. Johnson.Independent writers Cindy Kuzma and Jenni Prokopy and accountant Deborah Conatser (left to right) speak to the Chicago chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists on Nov. 11 in Chicago.

Freelance journalist Jenni Prokopy recently agreed to do a podcast interview, not realizing that it would include video. Working at home, she was wearing pajamas. “I immediately lifted the camera, so you could just see from here,” Prokopy said gesturing to her neck. “Busted! Now even for podcast interviews, I will be putting on a blouse.”

Prokopy and two other panelists shared their sometimes-humorous experiences and hard-earned wisdom about setting up and maintaining a healthy freelance business at a recent AHCJ Chicago chapter event. Continue reading

Health care industry reacting to overtesting, overtreatment

Photo: Carla K. Johnson Chicago Tribune reporter Julie Deardorff chats with health writer Evelyn Cunico at the May 12 event in Chicago.

Photo: Carla K. Johnson
Chicago Tribune reporter Julie Deardorff chats with health writer Evelyn Cunico at the May 12 event in Chicago.

The American health care system wastes an estimated $750 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine. At a recent AHCJ chapter event in Chicago, four panelists discussed one source of that waste: unnecessary tests and procedures.

Moderated and organized by AHCJ member Kevin B. O’Reilly, senior editor of CAP Today, the panel looked at the issue through the lenses of doctors, journalists, health system executives and academics.

Holly Humphrey, M.D., dean for medical education at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and vice chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s board of trustees, discussed the foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign. Continue reading