2/12/2014

At Healthwise, the News Is Only Part of the Story

Monica Rhodes, Medical Content Manager

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two posts honoring American Heart Month. Next week look for a blog post from Dr. Adam Husney, Healthwise medical director, on how the new guidelines for reducing cardiovascular risk will change discussions between patients and their doctors.


In our information-saturated world, headlines about medicine and health care have to be loud to be heard. This means that complicated issues are overly simplified, and consumers get only part of the story. Many times the stories are shaped by the political climate. And many times the reality is much less exciting than the headlines would have you believe.

An example of this is the recent uproar over new guidelines for reducing cardiovascular risk, published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. The media story became “AHA and ACC want everyone to be on statins!” or “Recently published guidelines will dramatically increase the number of people taking medicines for cholesterol!”

Predictably, the recommendations in these guidelines are much less sensational. And at Healthwise, it’s never about the news story. That’s because Healthwise has a team of experts—medical content specialists—who monitor the medical news every day. They use rigorous criteria to evaluate the research behind the headlines. Our medical content specialists focus on specific fields of medicine, ensuring that they immediately recognize meaningful changes to medical practice and understand how those changes might influence Healthwise content, clients, and consumers.

So immediately after these guidelines were released, our medical content specialist for cardiology, Robin Parks, was reading them and preparing for a discussion with our associate medical directors: two primary care physicians and one cardiologist. Robin read not only the new guidelines, but also the editorials and responses published in the weeks and months after.

Using her expertise in her subject matter, and keeping the patient and provider in mind, Robin was able to distill the guidelines. Then, after collaboration and consensus with the medical directors, a cross-team group at Healthwise quickly went into action. Robin continued her work to find all the places in Healthwise content that we would need to change. Leaders from the medical, content, and product teams came up with a strategy for getting changes into our products.

By January, Robin had worked with writers, editors, and physicians to make changes in about 150 documents, and she had evaluated and recommended changes to another 250 Healthwise documents.

So the next time you see a sensational news story about health care or medicine, be assured that the Healthwise team of experts is already at work, evaluating the research behind the headlines and making sure that changes to our content remain evidence-based, actionable, and meaningful for consumers and clinicians.

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