New on WellCommons - national health news

In case you haven't noticed, we've added a new feature to the WellCommons home page. It's national health news from Kaiser Health News.

We've been looking for a good way to include national health news into the site, because we want to make WellCommons your go-to place for anything about health: local health news, state health news, national health news, local databases and resources, etc.

We're still a long way from having WellCommons be what we want it to be. But the national health news is the first of several changes and upgrades we're making to WellCommons over the next couple of months.

Two weeks ago, we met again with the WellCommons advisory group, whose members made

many good suggestions that we've added to our list. The list includes: streamlining the site to make it easier to find all the good content, a goals application, a good resource list of local health care providers, ratings, topic pages, and a more informal way to "chat" on the site. And, of course, we want to do a truly mobile version. That will come sometime next year.

Last Tuesday night, I received more suggestions when I met with chapter IK of PEO -- Philanthropic Education Organization -- at the home of Jill LaPoint in Lawrence. One of PEO's members, Amy Phalen, provided this information about the organization:

PEO was founded on January 21, 1869, by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Originally a small campus friendship society, PEO soon blossomed to include women off campus. Today, PEO has grown from that tiny membership of seven to almost a quarter of a million members in chapters in the United States and Canada. The PEO Sisterhood is passionate about its mission: promoting educational opportunities for women. Our sisterhood proudly makes a difference in women's lives with six philanthropies that include ownership of a two-year women's college, Cottey College, and five programs that provide higher educational assistance.

At the end of the presentation, I asked the group of women what they wanted to see on WellCommons. Top of the list: accurate information about health reform, including a timeline and how the legislation affects us in Kansas and in Lawrence.

Kaiser Health News is a good solution. We chose them carefully. Their mission is to cover health news thoroughly, and in-depth. They hired some of the best and most experienced health editors and reporters in the United States to do so. Here's some information from the editorial policy section of their site:

KHN is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. All editorial decisions are made by KHN’s editors. Neither KHN nor the Kaiser Family Foundation is affiliated with the health insurance company Kaiser Permanente.

KHN publishes in-depth features and news and shorter articles on developments in the health care system and on national and local health care initiatives and issues. In addition to the articles, KHN has columns, video interviews, graphics, and multimedia features.

They break down the coverage into several topics, including health reform, Medicaid, Medicare health costs, and aging. You'll notice that KHN also puts out a daily health policy report. Every weekday, KHN staff review 300 news organizations' articles related to health policy and do their best to provide objective and balanced summaries. They do a weekly video review of health news called "Health on the Hill", and link to some funny and poignant health-related editorial cartoons.

One of the requests of the PEO chapter members was for balanced, non-biased coverage of health reform. [The definition of bias: prejudice in favor or against one thing, person or group, compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Partiality is favorable, or fair, bias. Prejudice, bigotry and intolerance are on the negative continuum past bias.]

We do our best on WellCommons to provide the best resources for the best information, and strive to provide that coverage ourselves locally. That means covering those who are partial, because they usually have reasons based in experience and data to support their approach, as well as covering those who are biased, in as many forms as bias takes, because they are part of the whole equation.

How we as a community address and solve our issues is to provide a forum where as many points of view as possible are presented, then begin compromising and whittling down the suggestions to come to a consensus for a plan of action (which sometimes means a vote for a person who favors a certain plan of action), implement it, and then carefully assess how we're doing, so that we can tweak and adjust as circumstances change.

The good news about WellCommons is that it is a place that everyone in the community can access, within our boundaries of civil discussion and identifying ourselves (i.e., no anonymous post or comments). So, if we're missing a piece of information that you think is important, by all means, post it, or contact us so we can assist you.

At the bottom of every page in WellCommons, there's a place to send us information, a question, a bug, etc.. That goes to at least four people, and one of us will get back to you.

Tagged: Medicare, Medicaid, Kaiser Health News, health reform

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