Category Archives: Health data

‘Walking through history to truth’ – health and the American Indian

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Donald Warne, M.D., M.P.H., comes from generations of traditional healers on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

He became a primary care physician – and grew frustrated that so much of what he was treating could have been prevented.

Racial disparities, social determinants and perverse decisions – paying to build a ramp at an amputee’s home, for instance, but not paying for the good health that would have prevented diabetes in the first place – are not unique to Indian country, he said at the opening session of Health Journalism 2018 in Phoenix. Continue reading

Loss of local newspapers worries infectious disease trackers

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.

Image: courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine) – Pandemic Influenza: The Inside Story. Nicholls H, PLoS Biology Vol. 4/2/2006, e50 https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0040050, Public Domain, Link

In February 1918, a Haskell County, Kan., paper, the Santa Fe Monitor, reported almost a dozen people were “quite sick” with pneumonia. At the time, the stories may not have seemed significant. Many people get sick in the winter.

Decades later, however, the stories became hugely important. The Monitor’s report helped disease detectives piece together the trail of the world’s greatest influenza pandemic and its epicenter, according to “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History” by author John Barry. The 1918 flu, which ultimately killed about 50 million people globally, likely began in Haskell County, where scientists think the deadly flu virus jumped between animals and humans and then to troops at a nearby army base readying to fight World War I.

Why this matters today was highlighted in a Stat story this week by Helen Branswell, “When Towns Lose Their Newspapers, Disease Detectives are Left Flying Blind.” Continue reading

AHCJ updates searchable hospital inspection data

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

The Association of Health Care Journalists just updated its HospitalInspections.org website. The site now has 27,985 records of hospital inspection results, covering from January 2011 well into December 2017. Most of the records show details of each deficiency found in hospitals.

Continue reading

Nonprofits, tax breaks and getting hospitals to keep people out

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: John Heppolette via Flickr

Kaiser Health News and Capital News Service have been publishing a series called “Baltimore’s Other Divide” – the state of health in a city which has vast disparities in health status, and some of the country’s best known hospitals.

The latest installment, by Jay Hancock, Rachel Bluth and Daniel Trielli, focuses on asthma “hot spots.” Drawing on rich hospital data, they identified the worst places for asthma in the city – ZIP code 21223. People there, like 9-year-old Keyonta Parnell, go the emergency room more often, and call 911 more often. The hospitals know that. But it’s not in their financial interest to fix it. Continue reading

Tussle over CMS data shows the importance of getting all the facts, without delay

Sabriya Rice

About Sabriya Rice

Sabriya Rice (@sabriyarice) is the business of health care reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She’s an AHCJ board member and vice chair of the association’s Right to Know committee.

When the federal government in June began to post a series of maps that showed how many health insurers would participate in the marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act, reporters quickly noted that one key element was missing from the posts: the data.

Health care journalists across the country sent inquiries to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requesting the numbers behind the weekly health insurance coverage maps, which projected how many insurers would make options available, county-by-county, for 2018. Continue reading