How I did it

Learn from these journalists how they have covered various aspects of health information technology. They provide valuable tips and sources and explain how they got past the challenges to explain the complex world of HIT to their audiences.

STAT health tech reporter says speed in the sector is a double-edged sword

Erin Brodwin

July 2021
Erin Brodwin is a San Francisco-based health tech reporter at STAT. Since 2019, she’s covered artificial intelligence in health care, written breaking news about health tech companies and covered wearable technologies and their impact on digital health. She advises us to think about whom tech innovation benefits or harms, its significance more broadly and whether something billed as innovative truly is.

Writing about wearable technology turns out to be a winning experience

Andrea King Collier

June 2021
In the fall of 2018, an editor at AARP approached me about doing a health and technology feature for them. The timing was perfect because I am a tech toy geek and was thinking about how I could use all the gear I have to make some lifestyle changes in the coming year.

I jumped at the chance. The story was due in November to run in January.

On AHCJ fellowship to Denmark, a Politico reporter finds parallels to U.S. implementation of EHRs

Arthur Allen

September 2019
Arthur Allen, a health care editor at Politico Pro, was one of four veteran journalists selected for the inaugural 2019 AHCJ International Health Study Fellowship. Supported by the Commonwealth Fund, the six-month fellowship allows veteran U.S.-based health care journalists to pursue a story or project comparing an aspect of the U.S. health system to another country.  Participants were allowed to study a developed European country.

Allen's first article to come out of the fellowship is “Lost in Translation: Epic goes to Denmark." The story is a comprehensive and often critical look at what happened when some Danish hospitals adopted Epic, the leading U.S. electronic health record system, which is headquartered in Wisconsin.

Science background helped student journalist’s reporting on predicting infectious disease outbreaks

Prajalta Dhapte

May 2019
Big data
offers the promise that researchers can develop effective predictive models of infectious disease outbreaks, enabling public health leaders to better allocate resources to prevent and respond to outbreaks.

Scientist and journalism student Prajakta Dhapte became fascinated with this predictive process and decided to delve into the modeling arena for a story published in Georgia Health News. See what she learned in this Q&A with Bara Vaida.

Uncovering the safety flaws in IBM's Watson supercomputer

Casey Ross

Ike Swetlitz

September 2018
IBM enjoyed positive PR on its cancer treatment adviser, Watson for Oncology, until two reporters for Stat looked into whether the results matched the buzz.

Casey Ross and Ike Swetlitz describe that they initially got interested in IBM Watson because there were “a few chinks in the narrative“ the computing giant had been telling. Notably, one big cancer center had scrapped its project with IBM.

Ross and Swetlitz describe their reporting process, and how initial stories on Watson for Oncology generated more leads and additional sources coming forward.

'Don't believe the hype:' Carreyrou talks about reporting the Theranos story 

John Carreyrou
(Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJ)

May 2018
John Carreyrou is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the Wall Street Journal and author of "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup" (release date May 21, 2018), which chronicles the spectacular fall of blood testing technology company Theranos.

In October 2015, Carreyrou began breaking stories on the Palo Alto, Calif.-based start up, which raised questions on its claim to have revolutionized the blood testing industry. Carreyrou was a keynote speaker at Health Journalism 2018. In his talk to fellow journalists, he explained how he got the Theranos story. His remarks have been condensed here.

Turning an insider beat into a feature on ‘frequent fliers’  

Arthur Allen

March 2018
Congress, federal agencies, lobbyists and others are all very interested in where federal dollars are going and how policy is being shaped. As the editor for Politico’s eHealth, Arthur Allen found that his accumulated knowledge allows him to churn out a larger tale for the wider public that goes beyond the beat into other drivers of health care.

Recently, that resulted in "The ‘Frequent Flier’ Program That Grounded a Hospital’s Soaring Costs," a 5,000-word feature that ran in Politico’s magazine about how technology-related health programs were impacting the lives of patients and providers.

Get beyond the hype to cover health IT at conferences 

April 2017
So your editor wants you to cover health information technology at a conference. Whether it’s a product launch, upgrade or the policy implications of health IT, the prospect can be daunting. Veteran health IT journalist Neil Versel explains how he has covered health IT conferences in the past, including the gigantic HIMSS conference that takes place in Orlando every winter. His tips can help health reporters with little tech background break stories and gain confidence, leading to better coverage when they are back at home.

Companies employ telemedicine kiosks to improve worker wellness 

July 2016
Phil Galewitz has done a few telemedicine stories in the past few years for Kaiser Health News, including a story about telemedicine kiosks being installed at some Rite Aid stores in Harrisburg, Pa., and other cities.

But he was intrigued when heard some employers were setting them up for their workers to use without having to leave the office.

Find out what he learned; it might be a jumping-off point for you to find employers in your area who are doing the same thing.

Drilling down into numbers uncovers Marketplace glitch

Don Sapatkin
Don Sapatkin

April 2014
Ten days before the (expected) close of open enrollment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the federal exchange's window-shopping tool – the one that the administration encourages everyone to check before applying for Marketplace insurance – was using the wrong year's poverty-level guidelines. Neither the Obama administration nor any health-care consultants or policy experts that reporter Don Sapatkin could find had noticed it and the site was corrected within hours after the story was posted.

In theory, almost anyone going on the site got slightly incorrect information for 35 days. Most seriously affected, however, were people just above the poverty line in states that have not expanded Medicaid. When they put their information into the tool, it responded: “Not eligible for help paying for coverage.” Many of them may have given up right there and not submitted the actual applications (which were using the correct poverty stats and were assessed correctly). It’s impossible to tell from the notification letter whether errors were made.

Finding wide variations in health reform implementation between states

Beth Kutscher
Beth Kutscher

February 2014
Modern Healthcare reporter Beth Kutscher watched the differences in Affordable Care Act implementation in Tennessee and Kentucky, where the state's online health marketplace was enrolling about 1,000 people a day. 

Tennessee was a stark contrast. The state had defaulted to the federal exchange, which meant that even if consumers – and especially younger, healthier individuals who help dilute the risk pool for insurers – had considered buying a plan, there was a good chance they’d log off in frustration and not return.

She began to think about what it meant for the hospitals in the two states – and she decided to find out. Here’s how she got her story. 

Race to electronic health records may come with a price

Fred Schulte
Fred Schulte

December 2012
Amid all the enthusiasm over increasing the use of information technology in health, politicians and policy makers paid little attention to the implications of a gold rush sparked when billions of taxpayers’ dollars suddenly came up for grabs. Hundreds of medical technology companies scrambled to sell digital systems — often by promising doctors and hospitals they could boost revenues by billing higher rates to Medicare and other health insurers.

The fallout from those early decisions could be coming back to haunt taxpayers, according to a three-part investigative series from the Center for Public Integrity. The series documented that thousands of medical professionals steadily billed Medicare for more complex and costly health care over the past decade — adding $11 billion or more to their fees — despite little evidence elderly patients required more treatment.

Reporter Fred Schulte explains how the project came about, how the Center did its reporting and provides plenty of background on medical coding, Medicare billing and the potential fallout as health care providers install and use electronic systems.

Experts discuss benefits, dangers of telemedicine

Thomas NesbittThomas Nesbitt

August 2010
Telemedicine, telehealth and teleradiology are bringing patients and physicians together, but problems can arise when there are opportunities to cash on the services that make these broadband connections possible.

At a meeting of AHCJ's San Francisco Bay Area chapter, three experts on the highly subsidized practice of telemedicine and telehealth painted a much different picture about the sustainability of programs directed mainly at poor and underserved patients.

This article summarizes the meeting and includes audio of the complete discussion, but also includes the speakers' presentations and a number of relevant resources.