TCTMD’s Caitlin E. Cox Wins NIHCM Journalism Award

A jury of healthcare leaders and journalists selected Cox’s story, which explores the shift to OBL-based peripheral procedures.

TCTMD’s Caitlin E. Cox Wins NIHCM Journalism Award

TCTMD News Editor Caitlin E. Cox has won the 2020 National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Trade Journalism Award for her investigative feature Peripheral Vision: As Office-Based Practices Proliferate, Who Is Watching Out for Patients?

Cox’s project, published on TCTMD in May 2019, explores some of the unintended consequences of shifting vascular medical procedures from hospitals to outpatient settings like office-based labs and ambulatory surgical centers.

“Two years ago, I began hearing stories from physicians working in Port St. Lucie, Florida, about a new practice that had opened up in their area—they were worried about what they saw as unnecessary care and complications, but didn’t know what to do,” Cox said. “I decided to dig deeper into how seemingly dry policies on reimbursement can affect what kind of care patients receive and where. And I sought out people with expertise on how things could change for the better.”

Fred Schulte, four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and senior correspondent at Kaiser Health News, was one of the judges in the trade category. In a video announcing Cox’s win, he described the thinking behind the panel’s choice.

“As judges, it’s always difficult to pick from what’s a pretty distinguished list of finalists, but as journalists, we tend to look for really compelling stories that tell us something that we didn’t know and, even better, that make us wish we had written these stories ourselves,” he said. “Caitlin’s story works on both counts. She exposes how some doctors are raking in millions of dollars from Medicare by doing vascular procedures in their offices with little in the way of quality standards or any oversight. While many trade publication articles that we look at tend to focus very narrowly on medical economics, her piece puts patients first and it serves as a reminder that patients always should be first whenever anything is happening in healthcare.”

Finalists for the award included writers at Modern Healthcare, Science, JAMA, MIT Technology Review, IEEE Spectrum, MedPage Today, and Medscape. Joining Schulte on the panel of judges for this year’s trade journalism prize were Eliza Barclay, John Carreyrou, Ceci Connolly, John Fauber, John Inglehart, and Clifton Leaf.

As journalists, we tend to look for really compelling stories that tell us something that we didn’t know and, even better, that make us wish we had written these stories ourselves. Fred Schulte

“The past few months have been a whirlwind for us at TCTMD covering the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was wonderful to get some good news from the NIHCM, especially since the pandemic itself has been a timely reminder of why accurate, balanced medical journalism is so important. I’m grateful to be at an organization that values thorough reporting and allows us the time to pursue it,” Cox said.

The awards, now in their 26th year, recognize researchers and journalists who bring to light “new evidence that advances the health system and the health of Americans,” the NIHCM website notes. The trade journalism award carries a prize of $15,000. Winners in other journalism categories for 2020 included Meg Anderson and Sean McMinn at NPR, University of Maryland Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and Capital News Service for digital media; Gabe Johnson, Christopher Weaver, Dan Frosch, Raney Aronson-Rath, Andrew Metz, Jennifer S. Forsyth, and Mike Shum at PBS News' Frontline and the Wall Street Journal for television and radio journalism; and Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times in the general circulation category.

NIHCM Founding President and CEO Nancy Chockley revealed in a video congratulating the winners that the foundation is offering $1 million dollars in grants to support journalism and research projects—the largest amount in the foundation’s history.

Cox joined TCTMD, published by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF), in 2008. She is currently the website’s news editor and also the producer of the Rox Heart Radio podcast. Prior to her career as a journalist, she earned a BS in Biology at the University of Georgia and did 2 years of bench research on HDL cholesterol at Tufts University. Cox holds an MA in journalism from New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program and has written for a variety of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor and Natural History Magazine.

Photo Credit: James P. Hare

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