Category Archives: Conference

Health Journalism 2019 sets attendance record

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

Drawn by an influential lineup of speakers and panels – plus an intriguing offering of field trips – more than 800 conference-goers helped make AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore a record-setter in attendance.

In AHCJ’s 20 years of annual conferences, the increase in attendance has mirrored the public’s level of interest in health news and need for clear, accurate health care reporting. Today, health-care pocketbook issues, partisan politics and worrisome matters such as the re-emergence of measles and stubborn drug dependence epidemics are seen as topics likely to be front and center in upcoming elections.

From May 2 to May 5, health journalists attended more than 60 panels, including a carefully curated lineup guiding independent journalists toward success and informative sessions on how to cover aspects of the scientific revolution of genetics.

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Panel learns why there’s no easy fix for high drug prices

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJMartin Van Trieste

One of the best sessions at Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore was the panel discussion about drug prices on May 3, “Of price spikes and shortages: New initiatives to increase patient access to generic and biosimilar drugs.” Wendy Wolfson, an independent journalist from Irvine, Calif., moderated the discussion.

Perhaps the most interesting of the four panel members was Martin Van Trieste, president and CEO, Civica Rx, a nonprofit manufacturer of generic drugs for hospitalized patients. Seven of the nation’s largest health systems have invested in Civica and their representatives will serve on its board of directors along with representatives from three philanthropies: the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, and the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Continue reading

Panelists explain how to begin mastering medical studies

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Comic by xkcd.com

At some point almost all health care journalists will need to cover a medical study or two. When that happens, you’ll want to have at least a passing understanding of p values and statistics and you’ll need to know that correlation does not imply causation.

For a session on May 2, AHCJ’s medical studies topic leader Tara Haelle moderated a panel, “Begin mastering medical studies.” Haelle and two experts in the topic explained some of the finer points of covering studies: Ishani Ganguli, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Regina Nuzzo, Ph.D., a freelance journalist and professor of science, technology and mathematics at Gallaudet University. Continue reading

Scientists look for new antimicrobials and urge government incentives

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.

Photo: CDC/ Melissa Dankel

Researchers are looking to old drugs, plants and viruses in a race to find new ways to kill disease-causing microbes before they become resistant to all existing pharmaceuticals, but their work will flounder if the federal government can’t figure out how to incentive companies to turn their work into commercially viable drugs. Continue reading

Diversifying your sources can improve your reporting

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.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: call the hospital public relations department and ask to speak with an authority about your topic. Chances are good you will end up interviewing an older, typically white, male doctor.

And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, if you’re only talking to one group of experts, you’re missing out on vital sources which can add rich, diverse perspectives to your stories, according to the journalists who participated in the “Finding diverse sources for your story” panel at Health Journalism 2019. Besides, diversity is just good journalism. Continue reading

Panelists break down the realities of precision medicine and immunotherapy

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

Otis Brawley, M.D., and Matthew Ong, of The Cancer Letter, were on the panel “How precision medicine and immunotherapy are redefining the approach to cancer treatment.”

Are precision medicine and immunotherapy overhyped as cancer treatments, or do they hold such tremendous promise that we are only just starting to see the potential?

That was the overarching question for the panel discussion at Health Journalism 2019, “How precision medicine and immunotherapy are redefining cancer treatment.”

“I do worry that precision medicine and immunotherapy are overhyped,” said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., Bloomberg distinguished professor of oncology and epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Brawley also was the Thursday night speaker at Health Journalism 2019. Continue reading