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Health Journalism 2010: Detailed Schedule

Health Journalism 2010 will be packed with panels, classes and workshops providing story ideas, new resources and insight into the latest health issues journalists have to cover.

Note: Some sessions will be held at the conference hotel, others will be at the adjoining convention center. Rooms that begin with "CC" are at the convention center.



Panel title


8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Field trips

NOTE: Both field trips are full. Please join us for the Thursday afternoon sessions Tools for tracking health care costs from 1-2:50 p.m. and Using data to depict the health of your local population from 3:10-5 p.m. You'll leave with a wealth of new information.

Field trip 1 includes a mini-med school in a state-of-the art, hands-on simulation center at the Feinberg School of Medicine; a visit to the Renee Schine Crown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital; a lunch discussion with leaders of the NUGene Project, a biobank of genetic samples and electronic health records from more than 10,000 volunteers; and a trip to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's world-renowned Center for Bionic Medicine.

Field trip 2 will feature a behind-the-scenes tour of its Mobile Examination Center for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) with embargoed data about hypertension and diabetes. Attendees also will visit Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, one of the most active in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and learn about the approach to veterans recently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Learn more about the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture's computer application that enables clinicians to enter, review and continuously update all information connected with any patient.

1-5 p.m.

Finding untold health story ideas in data and maps
These afternoon sessions cover finding detailed and authoritative sources of online databases and maps to build resources and skills to bring back to your newsroom. The sessions will cover key issues: public and private funding of health care as well as examining the health and health-related issues of communities and neighborhoods. Experts from Dartmouth Atlas and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation will guide you through rich data sources directly related to health. A representative of ESRI will introduce a Web interface that allows journalists to create neighborhood boundaries and examine health-related details.

1-2:50 p.m.

Tools for tracking health care costs
• Kristen Bronner, managing editor, Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care
• Emmanuela Gakidou, M.Sc., Ph.D., associate professor, Global Health; director of education and training, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington
Moderator: Jeff Porter, special projects director, Association of Health Care Journalists

3:10-5 p.m.

Using data to depict the health of your local population

• Ann Bossard, hospital and health systems specialist, ESRI
• Emmanuela Gakidou, M.Sc., Ph.D., associate professor, Global Health; director of education and training, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington
• Jeff Porter, special projects director, Association of Health Care Journalists


5:30 p.m.

CDC Director Thomas FriedenHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Catch two important back-to-back Newsmaker Briefings!

5:30 p.m. - Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

6:15 p.m. - Kathleen Sebelius, M.P.A., secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


7 p.m.

Welcome to Chicago reception

Sponsored by McCormick Foundation

Regency Ballroom CDE



Panel title


Starts at 7:30 a.m.

Breakfast available


8 a.m.

Jeffrey ShurenNewsmaker briefing

• Jeffrey Shuren, director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration

Shuren, recently named director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, will discuss his strategic agenda for 2010.



9:15-10:30 a.m.

Women's health research agenda: The coming decade

This panel will focus on a new 10-year plan for women’s health research being prepared by the government: what it might include, where the process stands, why it’s important and implications for clinical practice. It will look at the state of women’s health and women’s health research for America’s largest minority – Latinos/Hispanics – and examine an often overlooked population, women with disabilities.

• Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., deputy director, Office of Research on Women's Health, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services
• Colleen Fitzgerald, M.D., medical director, Women's Health Rehabilitation program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
• Aida Giachello, director, Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center
Moderator: Judy Graham, health and medicine reporter, Chicago Tribune


Monitoring the safety of the food supply

More than a century after Upton Sinclair’s, “The Jungle,” captured the horror of Chicago’s meat-packing industry, health hazards from tainted meat, produce and other foods are still a national problem. Our panelists will look at why it is so hard to keep the food supply safe, what government is doing how journalists can trace the journey of tainted foods from their source to the consumer.

• Nancy Donley, president, Safe Tables Our Priority
• Michael P. Doyle, Ph.D., professor and director, Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia
• Michael Moss, reporter, The New York Times
• Moderator: Laurie Udesky, independent journalist, San Francisco


Assessing health reform: Does comparative effectiveness research work?

Learn what the new health reform law does to move the U.S. along a path toward learning which medical treatments and technologies really work. What do the comparative effectiveness provisions actually mean for patients, health care providers, and insurers? How can they be used? How transparent? Where does the public fit in? This panel will show how scientific evidence is already being used to make policy recommendations.

• Janet Coffman, M.A., M.P.P., Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor, California Health Benefits Review Program, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco
• Lia Hotchkiss, M.P.H., director, comparative effectiveness research portfolio, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
• Jeffrey C. Lerner, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer, ECRI Institute
Moderator: Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor/columnist, Columbia Journalism Review


Incorporating social determinants into your local health coverage

Money, power and resources control who lives a long and healthy life. That proposition, put forth by the World Health Organization in 2005, has gained currency among researchers and policy experts who are leading a push to measure the roles of poverty, geography and social status in health. What is the latest research on how living and working conditions contribute to health status? How do government programs help or hurt community health? And how can reporters cover these complex issues in their local communities?

• Bianca Alexander, chief executive officer, Conscious Planet Media
• Mari Gallagher, principal, Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group; president, National Center for Public Research; adjunct associate professor, Institute on Urban Health Research, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University
• Anthony Iton, M.D., senior vice president of healthy communities, The California Endowment
Moderator: Mary Chris Jaklevic, independent journalist, Chicago


10:45 a.m.- noon

Preparing for the coming tsunami in aging

Today, well before the Boomer pig-in-the-python has hit, a little more than 12.7 percent of Americans are over of 65 and the health care system is struggling to care for them. The problem is finding people with the high- and low-level skills needed to deliver care. This session will focus on what those in medicine, nursing, rehabilitation and in-home care are doing to maximize resources for increasingly long-lived seniors and what they are doing to plan for the future.

• Valerie Gruss, Ph.D., CNP-BC, clinical assistant professor, Department of Biobehavioral Health Science, University of Illinois/Chicago School of Nursing
• Herbert Sier, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, and associate chief of geriatric medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
• Santiago Toledo, M.D., medical director, Orthopedic Rehabilitation Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
• Linnea Windel, R.N., M.S.N., president/CEO, Visiting Nurse Association of Fox Valley
Moderator: Eileen Beal, independent journalist, Cleveland


How to read medical studies and avoid pitfalls in reporting on them

Find out how to spot poorly designed studies, trials with too many conflicts of interest, and data spinning by researchers – also known as overstating conclusions. We’ll review some good studies too, of course, and highlight what you should know about statistics and study design. You’ll also learn how to find great outside sources. Plus, preview excerpts from a new AHCJ slim guide on the subject.

• Ivan Oransky, M.D., executive editor, Reuters Health
• Gary Schwitzer, health journalism professor, University of Minnesota; publisher,


Assessing health reform: Outlook for the nation’s hospitals

Hospitals are facing the greatest transformation in health care since Medicare was created 45 years ago. Hospital executives will talk about the importance of electronic records, community benefit and outreach and their thoughts on what the future holds for health care.

• Richard L. Gamelli, M.D., dean, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine; senior vice president, Loyola University Health System
• Joseph Golbus, M.D., president, NorthShore University HealthSystem Medical Group
• Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO, Advocate Health Care
Moderator: Bruce Japsen, reporter, Chicago Tribune


Pregnancy and childbirth trends: Issues of safety and choice

Why are cesarean section rates rising? Should more women be encouraged to deliver vaginally after a previous C-section? What can hospitals do to improve care to women during childbirth? These are among the issues that will be addressed during this educational session, aimed at helping health reporters better understand issues of safety and choice during pregnancy and childbirth.

• Mark R. Chassin, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission
• Julie Deardorff, health and fitness reporter, Chicago Tribune
• Alan M. Peaceman, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; chief, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine,Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Moderator: Deborah L. Shelton, health reporter, Chicago Tribune


12:15-2 p.m.

Luncheon session
Influenza! Lessons learned from a year of H1N1

One year ago, the United States and Mexico announced the discovery of the first cases of an illness caused by a novel strain of flu. That strain, pandemic H1N1 2009, went on to cause the first flu pandemic of the 21st century, and to trigger massive public health mobilizations and government spending around the world. But the pandemic turned out to be milder than expected, and over the months public attitudes shifted from disquiet to skepticism. In a moderated conversation, three public health and medical experts will score government, media and private-sector responses to the pandemic, looking for lessons to extract for the next time.

• Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., executive director, Trust for America's Health
• Anne Schuchat, M.D., director, CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
• Litjen Tan, Ph.D., director of medicine and public health, American Medical Association; co-chair, National Influenza Vaccine Summit
Moderator: Maryn McKenna, independent journalist, Minneapolis

Regency Ballroom CDE

2-2:45 p.m.

Visit the exhibitors

Visit our exhibitors and be present for a series of drawings offering some great prizes (must be present to win).


2:45-5:30 p.m.

Freelance PitchFest

Editors from magazines, newspapers, Web sites are coming to meet AHCJ's freelance members! This session has been created to give you an opportunity to sit down and discuss your ideas one-on-one with editors from selected publications. Bring your best ideas and be prepared to sell your work. You will be able to sign up for appointments online in advance and some appointment will be reserved for on-site registration.

Participating editors:

• Sara Austin, Self Magazine
• David Corcoran, The New York Times
• Daniel DeNoon, WebMD
• Deborah Flapan, Medscape Medical News
• Peggy Girshman, Kaiser Health News
• Maureen "Shawn" Kennedy, M.A., R.N.,  American Journal of Nursing
• Kathy LaTour, CURE Media Group
• Meredith Matthews, Current Health 1 and Current Health 2
• Ivan Oransky, MD, Reuters Health
• Colleen Paretty, WebMD Health
• Julia Sommerfeld, senior editor, health,
• Matthew Weinstock, senior editor, Hospitals & Health Networks
• Organizer: Jeanne Erdmann, independent journalist, Wentzville, Mo.


2:45-4 p.m.

Investigating nursing homes

Covering nursing homes and long-term care is more important than ever. As the population ages, new forms of long term care are sure to follow. This panel showcases recent coverage of nursing homes and offers tools and how-to information for covering long-term care in your community.

• David Jackson, reporter, Chicago Tribune
• Patricia McGinnis, executive director, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
•Edward F. Mortimore, Ph.D., technical director, Survey and Certification Group, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Moderator: Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor/columnist, Columbia Journalism Review


Spotting conflicts of interest in medical research

Consider the source. It’s always good advice when weighing what story sources tell you. But reporters covering health care and medical research often must unravel intricate industry-academia ties and try to identify bias that sources may deny they have. Find out what leading medical journals can and should be doing to disclose conflicts and counteract bias. Learn from a reporter who uncovered connections between prominent academic physicians and the industry, revealing some of the subtle ways that financial interests gain shape messages for the public and within medical education.

• Lisa A. Bero, Ph.D., professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy; faculty member, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco
• Catherine DeAngelis, M.D., editor-in-chief, Journal of the American Medical Association
• John Fauber, medical and science reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Moderator: Andrew Holtz, independent journalist, Portland, Ore.


Assessing health reform: Is there a looming doctor shortage?

A panel of experts examines the origins of the growing physician shortage and how the dearth of doctors is affecting health care delivery and health care reform. From expertise in research on the availability of physicians to day-to-day recruiting and educating doctors, the speakers will provide insight in the future of a key component in health care decisions.

• Kevin Barnett, Dr.P.H., M.C.P., senior investigator, Public Health Institute
• Raymond Curry, M.D., F.A.C.P., executive associate dean for education and professor of medicine and medical education, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
• David C. Goodman, M.D., M.S., professor of pediatrics and of health policy; director, Center for Health Policy Research at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice; Co-PI, Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare
• Kurt Mosley, vice president of strategic alliances, AMN Healthcare, Merritt Hawkins, Staff Care
Moderator: Andis Robeznieks, reporter, Modern Healthcare


Meeting the needs of cancer survivors

Today, two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer survive for more than five years, and many for decades. That means millions are coping with the aftereffects of cancer and cancer treatment, which can include chronic pain, depression, and infertility. Yet, until recently, the needs of cancer survivors have received little attention. Most media accounts end when treatment does. Our panelists will reveal the powerful stories in the challenges of living on.

• Richard Boyajian, R.N., M.S. N.P., clinical program manager, Lance Armstrong Foundation Adult Survivorship Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
• Gail Gamble, M.D., medical director, Cancer Rehabilitation Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
• Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., Thomas J. Watkins Professor, obstetrics and gynecology; chief, Division of Fertility Preservation; director, The Oncofertility Consortium; executive director, Institute for Women's Health Research
Moderator: Felice Freyer, reporter, The Providence (R.I.) Journal


4:15-5:30 p.m.

The growing importance of palliative care

Palliative care supports the patients with serious illnesses to receive the kind of care and pain relief they want, whether they’re nearing death or coping with serious and incurable illnesses. It’s a growing field: More than half of U.S. hospitals have palliative care programs and many more are in planning stages. Palliative care also can be provided to patients in their homes or in long-term care facilities.

• Martha Twaddle, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.A.H.P.M., chief medical officer, Midwest CareCenter
• Sean O'Mahony, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., medical director of palliative care service, Montefiore Medical Center; medical director, Compassionate Care Hospice at Montefiore; assistant professor of medicine and family medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
• Msgr. Charles J. Fahey, chairman, National Council on Aging; professor of aging studies, emeritus, Fordham University
Moderator: Irene Wielawski, independent journalist, Pound Ridge, N.Y.


Can reporters raise health literacy in the community?

Are health reporters finding themselves more and more responsible for the literacy of their audience? Can they even tackle the challenge? How should they go about it? We’ll hear from some academics and practitioners who will discuss techniques that might earn us a sharper community. We’ll also talk about the special hurdles facing television.

• Allen W. Heinemann, Ph.D., director, Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; senior faculty fellow, Institute for Health Services Research and Policy Studies, Northwestern University
• Michael Breen, M.D., principal, Dr. Michael Breen Associates
• Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., health literacy and communication director, Canyon Ranch Institute
Moderator: Duncan Moore, independent journalist, Chicago


Tracking health-related stimulus money

Hospitals, doctors, chiropractors and an assortment of other health providers and companies are getting millions of dollars through the federal stimulus bill and much more is to be allocated to the health industry to expand the use of electronic medical records. This panel will tell you how to find out how health care providers and health companies in your community are tapping in to this treasure and suggest ways to follow the money to terrific stories.

• Michael Grabell, reporter, ProPublica
• Fred Schulte, reporter, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund
• Phil Galewitz, reporter, Kaiser Health News




Panel title


Starts at 8 a.m.

Breakfast available

Sponsored by Montefiore Medical Center

Freelancers! Look for the dining table marked Freelance Corner for a chance to network with other freelancers.


9-10:15 a.m.

Understanding health insurance

Reforming the health insurance marketplace is the crux of the reform law. Journalists will have a big job covering the implementation of the new health insurance exchanges and provisions of the law that take effect in the near future. This panel explains the nuts and bolts of health insurance and what journalists need to know about covering the subject. It will also dig into some of the details hidden in the new law and how to translate them for your audiences.

• Tim D. Lee, F.S.A., M.A.A.A., principal and consulting actuary Milliman
• Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor/columnist, Columbia Journalism Review


What we can learn from "superagers"

Research is yielding important information on the oldest-of-the-old, or the “superagers,” those 85 and older. What can we learn from these findings that impact our understanding of health and well-being? Hear from researchers focusing on different areas: cognitive; environmental lifestyle; and genetics. Panelists will address what the study of the oldest-of-the old with healthy brains is revealing about Alzheimer’s disease; how lifestyle changes negatively/positively affect the aging process; and the impact of genetics on quality of life as we age.

• Barbara Hawkins, Ph.D., professor, Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies Department, Indiana University
• Michael Province, professor and director, Division of Statistical Genomics, Washington University School of Medicine
• Emily Rogalski, Ph.D., assistant research professor, Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Moderator: Jennifer Boen, independent journalist, Fort Wayne, Ind.


How many McAllens? Opportunities and pitfalls of spotlighting regional cost differences

For decades, journalists have relied on tools such as the Dartmouth Atlas to write about areas of the country with excessive spending and overtreatment, bolstering the Mayo Clinic’s reputation and taking down McAllen, Texas. The White House and Congress are looking to put this academic analysis into Medicare policy that would penalize high-spending areas. But concerns also are increasing. Would reining in high-spending areas hurt patient care? Do Medicare spending disparities reflect the entire health care market? Is end-of-life spending a fair or fallacious way to judge medical efficiency?

• Elliott S. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., director, Center for Health Policy Research, Dartmouth Medical School
• Mark E. Miller, Ph.D., executive director, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
• Patrick Romano, M.D., M.P.H., visiting fellow, Center for Studying Health System Change; professor of medicine and pediatrics, University of California, Davis School of Medicine
Moderator: Jordan Rau, reporter, Kaiser Health News


Addressing racial and ethnic disparities

Experts will share data that tracks how race and ethnicity influences surgery survival rates and long term care quality measures. We’ll also learn about regional research called the “eight Americas” that shows how health outcomes are tied to race, place and economics. Our panelists will talk about what’s driving a 20-year-life expectancy gap between high-risk urban black males and Asian females. And we’ll explore how one program that’s tailored an organ transplant program to the Hispanic community has reduced disparities.

• Juan Carlos Caicedo, M.D., transplant surgeon; director, Hispanic Transplant Program, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
• Ernest Moy, M.D., M.P.H., medical officer, Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
• Christopher J.L. Murray, M.D., D.Phil., director, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; professor of global health, University of Washington School of Medicine
Moderator: Kelley Weiss, independent reporter/producer, Sacramento, Calif.


10:30-11:45 a.m.

Investigating hospital finances

Hospital finances are poised to be at the top of the news again. The new health bill should benefit hospitals by covering 32 million more people but that won’t take effect for four years. Meanwhile, the poor economy has reduced elective surgeries, and the number of uninsured patients seems to be growing. This session will help you know if your hospital is financially sick and explain the key role that hospital boards play. The session will also focus on five key documents that all health reporters should know about, including the upgraded IRS 990 form, which finally arrives this year. It will require nonprofit hospitals to spell out as never before the benefit they give back to their communities.

• Karl Stark, health and science editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer
• Samuel H. Steinberg, Ph.D., F.A.C.H.E., S.H. Steinberg Consulting LLC


Guidelines for writing about preventive health guidelines

Mammograms, PSA tests, cholesterol levels, even how to perform CPR. Medical groups are constantly issuing guidelines. Which ones matter? How much attention should we pay to critics and potential conflicts of interest? Where can we find context, background and sources in a hurry? What should good stories about guidelines include?

• Robert O.Bonow, M.D.,Goldberg Distinguished Professor, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; chief, Division of Cardiology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
• Phil Fontanarosa, M.D., M.B.A., executive deputy editor, Journal of the American Medical Association
• Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., M.A.C.P., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society
Moderator: Marilynn Marchione, medical writer, The Associated Press


Assessing health reform: What's ahead for state and local governments

Regardless of how national legislation to overhaul the country’s health system plays out, state and local governments have a large role to play – whether implementing reform or taking matters into their own hands. Hear from experts on the efforts states have attempted or made, the hurdles they face and the future of the reform process.

• Justine Handelman, executive director, legislative and regulatory policy, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
• Martha King, health program director, National Conference of State Legislatures
• Marian Mulkey, M.P.H., M.P.P., senior program officer, California HealthCare Foundation
Moderator: Victoria Colliver, reporter, San Francisco Chronicle


Patient safety advocacy: Mining for stories, resources and data

Motivated by medical errors and hospital-acquired infections, a new breed of crusaders is mobilizing to lobby for new laws, encourage hospitals to become safer and push for greater transparency. Three panelists will share their personal stories, discuss their successes and failures and give you ideas of where to turn for information on patient safety.

• Helen Haskell, patient advocate
• Patty Skolnik, founder and executive director, Citizens for Patient Safety
• Jeanine Thomas, president and founder, MRSA Survivors Network
Moderator: Alicia Mundy, reporter, The Wall Street Journal


Noon-2 p.m.

Awards luncheon

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Johns Hopkins University   Quality and Safety Research Group

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Johns Hopkins University Quality and Safety Research Group, will be this year's keynote speaker.

Pronovost, who established the Quality and Safety Research Group (QSRG) to advance the science of safety, is dedicated to improving health care through methods that are scientifically rigorous, but feasible at the bedside. With his landmark study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, he was likely the first to implement a patient safety initiative successfully on a large scale. Using his system of checklist, culture change and measurement he virtually eliminated central line associated blood stream infection in Michigan and is taking his checklist nationally and internationally. Pronovost chose patient safety as a career path after watching his father die as a result of a medical error. He tells that story, as well as the story of his journey from a researcher to an international leader in patient safety in his new book “Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals: How One Doctor’s Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out.”

Regency Ballroom AB

2:15-3:30 p.m.

Assessing claims of functional foods and nutritional supplements

This panel will take a deeper look at one of the most controversial issues today – the often unregulated health claims of so-called functional foods and nutritional supplements. With more and more products on the market claiming to have health benefits for the consumer, this panel will help you better understand how to evaluate these claims and separate fact from fiction. We will hear from experts who will shed light on the federal and state
regulatory landscape covering these issues, as well as strategy and recent data to help you tackle functional food coverage with more accuracy and integrity.

• Neil E. Levin, C.C.N., D.A.N.L.A., programs chair, American Nutrition Association; nutrition education manager, NOW Foods
• Marilynn Marchione, medical writer, The Associated Press
• Bruce Silverglade, legal director, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Moderator: Bianca Alexander, chief executive officer, Conscious Planet Media


Mounting physical and mental health needs of returning vets

Along with the very human stories of returning veterans lies an increasing series of physical and mental health needs that challenge government and community resources. Panelists will lay out the issues unfolding as veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan attempt to reconnect in society, and share resources and guidance for journalists who face covering the relationship of human drama with public policy and community service

• Patrick J. Barrett, M.D., assistant chief of physical medicine & rehabilitation service, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
• Sharon Cohen, national writer, The Associated Press
• John Mundt, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist, Day Hospital Program, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
• Elliot Roth, M.D., attending physiatrist, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; chairman, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
• Moderator: Len Strazewski, acting chair and associate professor, Journalism Department, Columbia College Chicago


Impact of state budget cuts on health of the poor

Almost all states are cutting Medicaid and other health-related programs, or considering such cuts, just as the recession and rising unemployment are driving up the need. How can reporters translate state budget woes into stories about real people?

• Judith Graham, health care policy reporter, Chicago Tribune
• Alison Hirschel, elder law attorney, Michigan Poverty Law Program
• Barbara Lyons, deputy director, Kaiser Commission for Medicaid and the Uninsured
• Joy Johnson Wilson, health policy director/federal affairs counsel, National Conference of State Legislatures
Moderator: Mark Taylor, independent journalist, Chicago


Contest winners: How they did it

Hear from AHCJ’s contest winners. This year’s winners in the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism contest will discuss their work and offer tips on producing winning work of your own.

• Marshall Allen, health reporter, Las Vegas Sun
• Te-Ping Chen, reporter, Center for Public Integrity
• Patricia Callahan, reporter, Chicago Tribune
• Rachel Gotbaum, reporter, WBUR-Amherst
• Joe Carlson, staff reporter, Modern Healthcare
• Trine Tsouderous, science and medical reporter, Chicago Tribune
Moderator: Julie Appleby, senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News


3:45-5 p.m.

Reporting the science behind public health slogans

It’s hardly news that we’re supposed to eat better and exercise regularly. So how can we tell our readers, viewers and listeners something fresh about preventive measures that can help them live longer and be healthier? Delving into the research backing public-health slogans, and probing the vested interests that may be pushing such campaigns, can help us show what works and debunk questionable claims. The data can also help us answer important questions about what drives health problems in the communities we cover.

• Robert J. Davis, Ph.D., author, "The Healthy Skeptic: Cutting through the Hype about Your Health"
• Steven H. Kelder, M.P.H., Ph.D., professor, division of epidemiology, University of Texas School of Public Health
• Jennifer Duke, Ph.D., senior research public health analyst, RTI International
Moderator: Anna Mathews, reporter, The Wall Street Journal


Assessing health reform: The reporting challenge going forward

Whatever the outcome of the health care overhaul debate in Congress, there’s no doubt that reporters who cover health, politics or business will be writing about what happens next. After a year of intense coverage from Washington, how do you keep the topic fresh? How do you tie in local issues to the national debate? How do you write about health policy and not make your readers’ eyes glaze over? Employers, consumers, state and national governments will wrestle with the big three issues in health policy: cost, quality and access.   Three veteran reporters talk about how they cover the topics, suggest stories they see coming, and outline the challenges they face.

• Noam M. Levey, reporter, Los Angeles Times
• Karen Brown, reporter, WFCR-FM, Amherst, Mass.
• Lindy Washburn, staff writer, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record
Moderator: Julie Appleby, senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News


Surviving and thriving as a freelancer

More and more journalists – including members of AHCJ — are electing or being forced to become freelancers. Come talk about what works, what doesn’t and what you’re encouraged by or worried about. The founding members of AHCJ’s new freelance committee (we’re recruiting!), plus conference guests, will lead rapid town hall-style discussions on techniques, tools, tactics, and when to get out of the house.

• Moderated by independent journalist Maryn McKenna and AHCJ freelance committee members


5:15-6:15 p.m.

Membership meeting

Come hear about the latest efforts of AHCJ from your elected board.


6:30 p.m.


Sponsored by Kaiser Family Foundation




Panel title


Starts at 8 a.m.

Breakfast available


9-10:15 a.m.

Personal electronic medical records: What will consumers need to know?

Billions in economic stimulus money are going toward improving health information technology at the nation’s hospitals and doctor’s offices. Companies that include Microsoft and U.S. Health Record have systems that people can use to track their medical information. What do consumers need to know about the trend? Can personal health records actually save lives and make you healthier? And is patient privacy adequately protected?

• Steve Gray, partner, Affiliated Computer Services Healthcare Solutions
• Bala Hota, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical information officer, Cook County Health and Hospital System
• Thomas Layden, M.D., chief, Department of Internal Medicine; professor of medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago
Moderator: Prerna Mona Khanna, M.D., M.P.H.. visiting clinical associate professor, University of Illinois College of Medicine


Using Cochrane Library resources

The Cochrane Library enables those involved with health care decisions to keep up-to-date with all the latest evidence – a challenge that becomes harder each year as the volume of evidence increases. This session will guide journalists to use this tool to explore research on the effectiveness of health care interventions in one place. The library is considered as the “gold standard” in evidence-based health care information and produced by The Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving health care worldwide.

• Tim Powers, account development manager for the Americas, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing


Building a blog/Web site: How to publish and promote your work online

You’ve been told it’s time you have a Web site, but what does that entail? This workshop will cover all the basics, from choosing a content management system to building readership. We’ll also review easy-to-use tools that track what others are saying about the topics you cover and the work you do. Computers will not be available, but there will be plenty of handouts to help you get started and time to answer your technical (and non-technical) questions.

• Christine Cupaiulolo, blogger, Our Bodies Ourselves


10:30 a.m.-noon

Complete reporter's guide to vaccines

Can a flu shot make you sick? How does the HPV vaccine work? What’s the prognosis for an AIDS vaccine in the next decade? These are some of the vaccine-related questions heath writers face routinely, as more vaccines have come on the market in recent years to prevent problems ranging from cervical cancer to swine flu. This panel looks at the growth in available vaccines and an overview of how they work. It also examines nettlesome questions about why some vaccines are so hard to manufacture and why many people remain afraid of them.

• Arthur Allen, author, "Vaccine: the Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver"
• Katharine Kripke, Ph.D.. assistant director, vaccine research program, Division of AIDS, NIAID, NIH, DHHS
• Walter Orenstein, M.D., deputy director for vaccine delivery of the global health program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Moderator: Mike Stobbe, staff writer, The Associated Press


Getting the most out of PubMed and

This session offers training in how AHCJ members can better use Pub Med and in health and medical news reporting and editing. The session includes some usage tips and notes some of the site’s interactive features. The session previews and highlights some of the advanced training offered within the AHCJ-NLM Journalism Fellows Program.

• Holly Burt, M.L.I.S., outreach & exhibits coordinator, National Network of Libraries Greater Midwest Region
• Robert A. Logan, Ph.D., communication research scientist, U.S. National Library of Medicine


Deciphering hospital quality data

In the past few years, there has been a proliferation of Web sites promising data on hospital quality, performance and patient satisfaction. This session will give you a tour of what’s available and help you ask the right questions and put the statistics in context. We will take a close look at the Hospital Compare site run by the federal government, along with AHCJ data tools designed to make comparisons easier. Even if you have been using these sites for some time, this session may teach you new tricks in using them. Bring your laptop.

• Charles Ornstein, senior reporter, ProPublica
• Tracy Weber, senior reporter, ProPublica



Conference ends

Health Journalism 2009
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