Category Archives: Tools

A look at a new type of medical research app

Tara Haelle

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.

Those of us who cover medical studies on a regular basis are always looking for ways to uncover new and interesting research aside from the embargoed releases from the major journals and services such as EurekAlert! Using alerts on PubMed is one option, and now there’s a new app called Case.

I first learned about the app in March when Avikk Ghose, Case’s CEO and co-founder, reached out to me on email. I checked out the app at the time but found some features limited for the way I specifically look for research. (Since it’s aimed at researchers themselves, it was at the time still too hyperspecific for me as a journalist.) Continue reading

Pre-existing conditions re-emerge: Find out who might be affected

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: Ted Eytan via FlickrA sign from a 2017 rally in support of the ACA in Washington, D.C.

The latest anti-Affordable Care Act lawsuit from a score of conservative state attorneys general – partly backed by the U.S. Department of Justice – brings protections for people with pre-existing conditions squarely back into the political and policy forefront. (And you should expect this lawsuit and pre-existing condition protection to come up in the Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh in early September).

So how many people really do have pre-existing conditions who are vulnerable to losing coverage?  And where are they?

Continue reading

Checking conflicts of interest: If cutting corners, at least do it right

Tara Haelle

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.

Photo: Hey Paul Studios via Flickr

Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way to get them right the next time – even when you already know better and shouldn’t have made that rookie mistake in the first place.

That’s what this post is about: My haste in covering a story I already know a lot about led me to omit a crucial piece of reporting – checking for potential conflicts of interest. I hope others will learn from my experience and use the resources I provide below to avoid the same mistake. Continue reading

These FDA apps can be helpful for reporting and story ideas

Tara Haelle

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.

If you are familiar with  Drugs@FDA, you know that the website allows you to quickly look up a drug by its name (brand), the active ingredient (generic), or application number. But if you frequently work on the go or need to look up something quickly while away from your computer, you now can download the FDA’s new app, Drugs@FDA Express (iOS/Apple and Android/Google), to see much of the same information.

Released in late March, the app is pretty basic, but often that’s the best kind of app. It loads quickly, isn’t overly cluttered and has simpler user-friendly interface. The opening page is straightforward. 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

Reporter shares tips on how to get good data despite privacy laws

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Annie Waldman

Privacy laws, such as HIPAA, are the bane of health journalism. No matter how fervently you wish to preserve patient privacy, the legal protections often stand between you and a great story.

Unless you know the ways around them.

ProPublica’s Annie Waldman is an expert in overcoming or sidestepping privacy barriers. Continue reading