Do we need to learn to live with sponsored health care content?

I was going to scan in the front page of today’s Globe, which features a story on Partners staff complaining about how hard it is to learn the new $1.3 billion HIT system. There was a teaser nestled up to it for a story on the first penis transplant. That juxtaposition made me wonder how a slip of the finger on keyboard might impact the noted surgery. But, I decided to be a grown up.

Instead, I’ll let someone else rag on the Globe, or in this case the sort of Globe. That would be the part of the Globe Media Co. that is hiring new staff, not the newspaper itself, which is offering staff buy-outs.

Over at Health News Review, Trudy Lieberman complains about a “serious and rapidly emerging dilemma for consumers of health news. What’s real journalism and what’s “content” masquerading as journalism as we know it?  Examining stories on The Guardian’s Healthcare Network site and on STAT, the fledgling digital news service that’s making a name for itself with loads of daily content, I discovered a blending of traditional stories with advertising and promotion that simply fools the reader.

She goes on: When I first caught on to what STAT was doing, I felt deceived like I was when I read The Guardian’s breakthrough piece. The pooh-bahs at STAT are making it easy for me to read something I don’t want to read and confusing me with look-alike content prepared by some of the biggest names in the healthcare business— Cigna, CVS Health, Johnson & Johnson, Baxalta, a new biopharmaceutical company, and PhRMA whose contributions to Morning Rounds have included “America’s biopharmaceutical researchers and scientists are tireless in the fight against disease” and “Imagine “smart bombs” that fight cancer and reduce side effects.”

First, my conflicts. I was involved in a major sponsored content project once. And I have a family member who works at the Globe.  And while I’m not a big fan of native advertising, I am a big fan of good journalism and we need to pay for it somehow. Or, the folks at STAT will be getting those buy-out offers.

Plus, it looks pretty well-Capturemarked to me with all that orange.  Also, I’m not sure the idea is so much to hide PR in news-sheep’s clothing. My understanding it that the idea is to get this stuff out on social media where the orange banners and disclosures don’t show up — social marketing. That concerns me, along with all these university and hospital publication that look and sound like news but are PR and marketing. Many will argue — we report these stories just like journalist. The difference is — who do they answer to? Who is the customer? That would be the marketing staff at institution or the hospitals, not the reader. But, that stuff gets tweeted out and no one knows the difference. My journalism students don’t know the difference.

Honestly, I hate this stuff as much as Lieberman does. I want to keep that wall between advertising and editorial up. Are native advertising and social marketing, by nature, deceiving the reader?  You could make that argument.  But, I see the dilemma. Here’s hoping we find a better way to support good journalism.

 

 

Boston health interviews: Spotlight on surgery, Lown and Berwick

You correspondent has been tooling around the city lately asking a lot of questions. Three recent Q&A column in Health Leaders with Boston, Brookline and Cambridge, Mass. links.

Also, the staff at the Brigham had a few questions when a VIP guest make some special requests. Check out the story from the Sunday Globe

When state investigators interviewed an employee identified as “nurse director #1’’ in the report, she said the patient interpreted the use of protective gowns as an indication they thought he was “dirty’’ and asked that staff not wear them. A physician told inspectors that he visited the patient five to seven times a week and did not wear protective gear because the patient “found it offensive.’’ And the hospital had no infection control policies in place for the patient’s personal staff, it told the state. 

sox win 07

Go Sox!

Concurrent Surgery Gets the Spotlight treatment: The editor of The Boston Globe’s investigative reporting unit discusses his team’s series raising questions about the practice of concurrent surgeries and patient safety.

 

Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute:”There really needs to be an alliance among patients, families, and communities. At the end of the day, they get to decide what is the right care,”

 

Donald Berwick: The former head of CMS says “we will never solve the problem of cost and finance by focusing on cost and finance.” Instead, it will be resolved “by focusing on the design and redesign of healthcare and the improvement of its quality.”  Part 2

 

 

Health care in Massachusetts: Affordable or not?

Not affordable: From this week’s paper

Rising health care costs have outpaced the incomes of Massachusetts families over the past decade, despite efforts by the state to control medical expenses, according to a report released Wednesday.

Affordable: Two weeks ago.

Despite concerns about rising health care costs, the head of the state’s largest and most expensive network of doctors and hospitals said Thursday that health care is “very affordable” in Massachusetts.partners

Partners HealthCare chief executive Dr. David Torchiana, in remarks to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that health care costs are higher here than in other parts of the country, largely because Massachusetts is home to several large teaching hospitals whose training and research programs make them expensive to run.

But considering the high incomes in Massachusetts, it’s not so bad, Torchiana said: “Health care is very affordable in Massachusetts.”

To help make sense of this and other health policy debates, check out the latest Health Wonk Review.

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