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William Heisel's Antidote: Investigating Untold Health Stories

William Heisel, former investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, writes about investigative health reporting. He is currently the director of global engagement at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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Medicare made a huge step forward this week in announcing that it would no longer pay for health care without taking into account whether the care was any good. The move could dramatically accelerate changes to how we pay for health care in this country.

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Learning how to locate and use patient discharge data will make your reporting stronger and provide you with objective evidence for evaluating hospitals' claims. Such data can also lead to new story threads. Here's a quick-start guide.

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When you’re searching for a question to guide your data reporting, it's worth thinking about scope and impact. How big or small is the problem you are trying to explain or expose?

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A recent Sac Bee investigation revealed disturbingly high staff turnover rates at a number of California nursing homes. You can discover similar trends by learning how to navigate the data in California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and similar agencies nationwide.

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Every time someone famous dies after a medical error, hopes rise that we will see a meaningful response that will improve patient safety conditions. Joan Rivers' death has, in an incredibly quick time frame, led to some significant consequences for those involved.

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In California, the range of physician performance is surprisingly wide, according to a recent survey that ranked groups on a 100-point scale. More than 40 physician groups scored below 60. Where might we find insights into how to help these low-performers improve?

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Embarking on a data-driven story? Don’t just compile gigabytes of data and hope that a story will emerge. Decide what the question is that’s most crucial to your audience right now.

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A recent California survey found that even the highest-rated provider group received only a C+ rating from its patients. Does this reveal deep flaws in the way care is delivered or have patients come to expect too much from health care providers?

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Health care providers aren't perfect. None of us are. But in a recent report on patient experiences, California physician groups were assigned a rating on a scale of 0 to 100. Not one group managed to score in the 80s or 90s. What's going on here?

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Three high-profile deaths that occurred over the past year are worth noting as reminders of the larger topics that should be top of mind for health writers.

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