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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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By now you’ve heard about the launch of the new California Healthcare Compare website, which allows users to compare cost and quality on common procedures throughout the state. Less noted, however, are some of the site’s serious limitations. Bill Heisel breaks them down for us.

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How do you find out how skilled a surgeon is? Asking a surgeon's peers for their opinion is one obvious route, since surgeons are adept at spotting colleagues' skill levels. But getting hold of such peer reviews isn't easy for patients. Can a new surgery market change that?

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A revamped version of the website DocInfo promises to be a useful tool for anyone researching doctors' histories with their respective medical boards. Contributing editor William Heisel takes the overhauled site out for a spin.

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A recent White House report noted that there is no evidence that state-by-state licensing improves quality or safety. And yet we have a 50-state system for doctors and for most other health care professionals. Is broad reform possible?

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Strict professional licensing rules don't necessarily translate into higher-quality work, as a recent report from the White House made clear. Might there be a smarter way? One option: directly regulate the companies that employ the people who are being subject to licensure.

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I’d been going to the same woman to cut my hair for five years, and she was always the picture of calm. Until the day she looked at the front door as it was opening and said to me, “I have to run.” Then, her face the picture of panic, she ran.

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Leaders of health organizations rightfully get excited when a big donation appears on the horizon. But long before the shovels hit dirt, it’s critical to have a frank discussion with donors to understand their needs and expectations. Think of Garth Brooks as a warning case.

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Many health care nonprofits rely on the good will of donors to carry out their missions. But when donors start to waver or renege on their committments, it's easy for organizations to prematurely reach for legal remedies, as contributing editor William Heisel explains.

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Saint John’s Health Center in Los Angeles garnered media attention recently with the news that it was suing a donor after her estate refused to fulfill a multi-million dollar donation pledge. William Heisel explores what happens when dream donations turn into legal nightmares.

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A new study on tuberculosis in wake of the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake offers a number of health policy lessons that hold true far beyond the tiny island nation. The country's robust approach to HIV testing is one of them.



The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team. 


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